Leyendas de Guatemala (Legends of Guatemala, 1930) was the first book to be published by Nobel-prizewinning author Miguel Ángel Asturias. The book is a re-telling of Maya origin stories from Asturias's homeland of Guatemala. It reflects the author's study of anthropology and Central American indigenous civilizations, undertaken in France, at the Sorbonne where he was influenced by the European perspective.
The nature of oral tradition is evident in Leyendas de Guatemala, as shown in the dedication: “To my mother, who used to tell me stories.” This reflects the traditional character of the origin of the stories, in which Asturias takes collective memory to a higher level of awareness through his fictionalization.
In critic Jean Franco's description, the book "gave lyrical recreations of Guatemalan folklore many of which drew their inspiration from pre-Columbian and colonial sources".
The writing style of Leyendas de Guatemala is the product of a fortunate experiment, which established a structure that can be called poetic intuition, and a style which can be seen as a pre-cursor to the future literary movement of magical realism. Leyendas de Guatemala can be read not only from an anthropological perspective, but also as an aesthetic experience that confirms the originality of the style.
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