Bless Me

next in line is Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima. when i started to read it, knowing that it deals with magic, i immediately thought of Eliade. but these two authors share nothing in common, especially when it comes to style. only, perhaps, the idea that the sacred elements of life are deeply hidden in the profane ones and are waiting to be discovered, revealed.

what i have noticed from the beginning of the novel is the fact that the author seems to deliberately explain every single detail to us. he exposes his culture with all its customs and beliefs and translates them to us; he translates the meaning hidden behind the tradition (the past) of his culture.

one event following another, we join Antonio in action; we accompany him in his journey of initiation and we, too, feel the protective soul of Ultima. Like every protagonist of a bildungsroman (or a rite-of-passage novel), Antonio experiences an epiphany: "Take the llano and the river valley, the moon and the sea, God and the golden carp – and make something new," I said to myself. That is what Ultima meant by building strength from life. "Papa," I asked, "can a new religion be made?" [...] If the old religion could no longer answer the questions of the children then perhaps it was time to change it. (Grand Central Publishing, New York, Boston, 1999, pp 261-2)

building strength from life, this is what Anaya wants to teach us. respecting and accepting life, with all its tragedies and beauties; having sympathy for people; never forgetting our past or the heritage of our primordial ancestors, the archetypes of our culture. on the contrary we should combine all these components, creating a synthesis out of apparent contradictory elements.

"I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Always have the strength to live. Love life, and if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evenings when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills. I shall be with you"
(p. 276)


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