This book was crazy.I embarked upon this read because an important lady in my life happened to have written her senior thesis on it and Alejo Carpentier s Explosion in a Cathedral The book follows the Peregrinations and ill fated they are indeed of a 17th century Mexican priest as he is hounded throughout the world following and inflammatory and, by some accounts, blasphemous speech The book reads like a series of hallucinations and very rarely makes a whole lot of sense But as I learned from reading an excellently though out and written thesis, this was intentional In a reaction to Carpentier s very grand and historical style, Arenas treats history as uncertain and the accounts of it merely one possibility This revelation did make sense however, it did not make the book any easier to read.Fray Servando is, for the most part, a very sympathetic character, and I found myself curious as to what strange misfortune would befall him next I never was quite sure if that misfortune did ever befall him though, since often the next chapter was written in the second person telling either me or Servando that what had just transpired had not just transpired.As confusing and meandering and I ll say it seemingly nonsensical this book was, I did find myself enjoying it Maybe that s just how much I dig this girl who had me read it, or maybe it s actually interesting to read such a strangely and unorthodoxly written book. Captivating at times, but overall not that great. This is an imagined biography of the real Dominican Friar Servando Teresa de Mier 1765 1827 written in 1966 by the author of The Doorman It starts very much in the magical realism mode but does rather tend to lose steam to standard Latin America novel near the end This is like many of Mario Llosa s e.g Feast of the Goat, The War of the End of the World, Way to Paradise or Souza s e.g Mad Maria work in that it is a brilliant narrative where you begin to wonder about the true facts rather than clever fiction The magical realism style, is a mixture of first and third person, is in deed like a hallucination reflecting the inner and outer struggle of this real life revolutionary priest.It starts in Mexico with Sevando childhood and education in Monterrey then preaching in 1794 that the Virgin of Guadalupe who originally appeared 1541 actually visited New Spain as part of the indigenous religion many years earlier Arrested and exiled to a Spain, he was given the chance to plead his case but got lost on the way to a council meeting Rearrested and escaping so starts his remarkable journey from escapades in France where he meets Sim n Rodr guez, Sim n Bol var s former teacher Rome then Spain arrested for his Mexican Independence views escaped, recaptured escaped, released for converting Rabbis military priest in the Franco Spain war captured and escaped the French met General Blake witnesses the Battle of Trafalgar and moves to London writes Revolutionary newspaper travels to New Spain captured by the Royalists ends up in Havana and escapes to USA revisiting Mexico after independence is arrested by the Spanish released by the Mexicans but is then arrested for his anti federal views and yes escapes his seventh Dies Mummified body sold to circus in 1861 and exhibited in Brussels but is soon lost never to reappear.You can imagine what could be made of this history and this book does not disappoint.Some quotes There s just no way out It s as if I was realising the whole time how useless all this running away is All the time I keep telling myself do everything you can, do everything you can And I do But the trouble is you never know how much you can do And if everything were possible it might as well be impossible, simply because it can be done and nothing is gained by it Routine would be the only thing left, routine and routine Summer I ask God to grant me proof of His existence by letting me die But I doubt that He can hear me If God were here He would have gone mad Not for me, but Servando s memoirs, in translation, are available to read This, though not a perfect attempt, is another 5 star magical realism tale. I rate this book a 3.8 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being best This novel, banned in Cuba, was first published in Paris after being secreted out between the pages of a biological dissertation The book, and the author s difficult plight, are a testament to what Faulkner called the indestructible will to freedom The protagonist of El mundo alucinante, Servando, is based on the historical figure of Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 1763 1827 , a Dominican friar who spent much of his life in and out of prisons in Spain and its New World possessions In terms of stylistics, the novel s most notable quality is its verbal inventiveness Word play, punning and ridiculously absurd humor run rampant throughout the work. In the brilliant tradition of Don Quixote and Candide, this passionate novel by the author of Before Night Falls is a modern masterpiece of Latin American fiction Fray Servando priest, blasphemer, dueler of monsters, irresistible lover, misunderstood prophet, prisoner, and consummate escape artist wanders among the vice ridden populations of eighteenth century Europe and the Americas, fleeing dungeons, a marriage minded woman, a slave ship captain, and the Inquisition Whether by burro, by boat, or by the back of a whale, Fray Servando s journey is at once funny and romantic, melancholy and profound a tale rooted in history, yet outrageously hallucinatory An impenitent amalgam of truth and invention, historical fact and outrageous make believea philosophical black comedy The New York Times Just a year before 100 Years of Solitude, Reinaldo Arenas wrote his own magical realist novel El Mundo Alucinante, or Hallucinations Surreal, picaresque, historical, satirical, and hilarious, Hallucinations comprehensively represents the best of Latin American literature at this time Drawing parallels between the onset of Mexican independence and contemporary revolutionary movements, Arenas focuses on the experiences of one man, Friar Servando Teresa de Mier, a true historical figure who was persecuted for much of his life for his strange preachings on liberation, independence, and the fact that Christianity had already been brought to the Americas by St Thomas before the Spanish conquista, a theory which helped open the door for Mexican independence from Spain Thousands die in ridiculous and often funny ways, the friar ends up naked most of the time, and is constantly escaping prison This book makes fun of government, the church, and our interpretations of history It is brilliant. Reinaldo Arenas s The Ill Fated Peregrinations of Fray Servando is a picaresque novel about the real life Mexican friar who is persecuted for his religious opinions and hatred of the Spanish monarchy and episcopate Almost half the novel is set in various prisons where Fray Servando Theresa de Mier is imprisoned and from which he escapes or is freed There are numerous very improbable hijinx, such as Fray Servando s witnessing the Battle of Trafalgar, but twice locating it in diferent bodies of water The author himself was a prisoner in Castro s Cuba for two years It was only with the Mariel boatlift that he made his way to the United States, where he died of AIDS in 1990.Arenas intersperses his text with quotatiojns from the real Fray Servanto s diary and other documents, though the veracity of the Cuban author s own contributions is not quite at the same level. Simply wonderful book, the poetic power of its words reminds me of Walter Benjamin s essays And after reading it I don t need to read the local political news any, because it s all already there, inequalities, corruption, all kinds of misery which generally happen to human beings. This book is soo fun to read I really enjoyed it and discovered a lot of things about my country and one of the most ignored heroes Fray Servando Teresa de Mier I think Arenas could develop this amazing novel because of the emotional and circumstantial link he established with this character As Arenas suffered repression from Castro s system and was imprisioned several times, Fray Servando was also sent to jail a lot of times because he questioned religion and politics.Awesomely well written, I introduce you to the most ignored but also most amazing writer of the Magic Realism Let s not exclude Rulfo A seminal reading experience The most amazingly constructed, dazzling story I ve ever approached 15 pages into this book I was asking myself what the hell am I reading I couldn t put it down for a second I don t want to say why, because that will ruin it for you I envy anyone reading this for the first time And this is nearly the only Magic Realism I ve read, besides The Ex Magician and Other Stories by Murillo Rubaio, which doesn t beg to be compared to Garcia Marques.