Friday, April 27, 2007

Malinche - novel by Laura Esquivel

The book was a gift from the Mexican Ambassador Rogelio.
This is the first book of the Mexican author Laura Esquivel, I have read.
I found that she is the same author of the story" Like water for chocolate" which I have seen as a movie and liked it.

Malinche is a historical novel about the Malinalli, the mistress and interpreter of Hernan Cortez, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico. Born to the native Mexican tribe, she ends up as a slave to Cortez the conquistador. She takes him for the reincarnation of her god Quetzalcoatl and serves him loyally.But she realises that Cortez is just a human, greedy for gold and conquest. Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor also mistakes Cortez for reincarnation of his god and hands over the throne to him. Cortez marries off Malinalli to his loyal deputy Jaramillo alter. She gets one a son from Cortez, said to be the first mestizio of Mexico.

Laura has done deep research on Indian history and religion and has given an authentic Indian flavour to the book. She gives a vivid, objective and respectful account of the beliefs, customs and thought process of the native Indians. The book is full of Indian names of gods, people and cities such as Quetzalcoatl, Axayacatl, Tenochtitlan, Huitzilopochtli, Tetlepanquetzal,Tlazolteotl, Cuitlahuac,Cuauhtemoc and other such tongue twisters.

Malinalli who is brought up to believe in life and worship live forces such as wind, water and butterflies is at a loss to understand the opposite approach of christianity symbolised by cross and death. Malinalli talks to water, wind and butterlfies and through these Laura has brought out out the harmony of life of the natives with nature.When Cortez conquers, kills and destroys the Indian idols, the natives lose faith in their own gods who were powerless to protect them

The native Indians consider Malinalli as a traitor. But this has to be seen in perspective. While she helped the conquest of Cortes, she was simply a poor girl sold twice as slave as a child and later to Cortez.

Malinche was originally the name given to Cortez by the natives in their language Nahuatl. Today Malinche is a pejorative term to describe someone who denies his heritage, valuing other cultures above his own. Malinchismo means betrayal.

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