India’s Mythology in the Novel El Alhajadito (the Bejeweled Boy) by Miguel Angel Asturias

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This monograph documents for the first time in publication the Guatemalan Nobel recipient’s intentional substratum of Hindu mythology. El Alhajadito is the dream of the god Vishnu creating our illusory world. The Asian identity of characters and incidents lies veiled in metaphorical language, but with knowledge of Hinduism the design emerges and the reader can perceive the Indian connection necessary for a cohesive understanding of this unusual work. Asian deities and beliefs then come to life in Asturias’s colorful metaphors, reflecting his conviction that mythology is the ancient literary means for expressing the doubts, desires, and conflicts of human experience. This monograph joins the few studies extant about this novel, and broadens the field that has only focused so far on the language. Indologists and others attracted to the religion of India will find their field unexpectedly serving as the basis of a novel epitomizing literary creativity.


“…constitutes a genuine revelation within Asturianist studies, not only because it proposes a reading which breaks through the vanguard limits that criticism has traditionally imposed on the work of Asturias, but also because it shows a very important relationship with esoteric contents in the mythologies of ancient peoples…. This book is a thorough journey through esoteric Hindu meanings which interpenetrate and transfigure each other, showing the rich spectrum of deities whose virtues often change into their opposite, and revealing the elaborate philosophical concepts that underlie the fantastic stories, myths, and ancient legends…. This proposal for reading El Alhajadito has enormous importance not only for the renovation of Asturian studies but also for understanding the meaning and literary uses of ancient mythologies….the work here evaluated seems to us an intelligent and fruitful restatement of the literary criticism applied to Latin American vanguard movements and the use they made of popular indigenous culture to forge the diverse literary languages that characterized 20th century literature. In this regard, Prof. Callan’s book is an authentic ‘breakthrough’ which revitalizes the possibilities of literary criticism as a useful undertaking for the comprehension of human history and creativity, something very appropriate in an epoch in which literary theories have acquired more importance than the literature itself.” – Dr. Mario Roberto Morales, University of Northern Iowa

“…a ground-breaking exploration of terra incognita, a luxuriant and tangled garden of Eastern mythology and spirituality. It is a bold attempt by a sympathetic and perceptive Western literary critic to demonstrate the impact that this mythology has made on one of the great writers of Hispanic America. Callan’s work may also induce Indologists to examine the evidence he presents, thereby initiating a dialog which can lead to further studies concerning the influence of Eastern mythology on the West.” – Charles H. Leighton, Professor Emeritus, University of New Hampshire

“Callan demonstrates a profound and exhaustive knowledge of that mythology and weaves a complex tapestry with techniques of comparative analysis involving the substratum which sustains the text: life as an illusion of the senses, with minutes, detailed connections between characters and objects from both Alhajadito’s and the Hindu world….This innovative interpretation, highly creative in the best sense of the work, is nevertheless based on solid not arbitrary arguments which demonstrate Callan’s deep knowledge of both the Hindu and Asturian world.” – Prof. Lucrecia Mendez de Penedo, Vice Dean, School of Humanities, Rafael Landivar University, Guatemala

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Foreword; Preface
1. Plot, Asturias in India, and Relevant Indian Concepts
2. Alhajadito: A Tripartite Deity (Azacuán and Mal Ladrón)
3. The Circus: Arrival of the Aryans (Agni; Indra; Tent – The World and Sakti; Story of Indiga – Sri Yantra Diagram; Bell of the Mal Ladrón – Lotus and Vajra)
4. The Curate’s Nautical Voyage: Brahma, Death, and Reincarnation (Gandhi, Food, and Lust; Nirvana; Karma; The Absolute)
5. Mothers, Brothers, Serpents: Alhajadito-Krishna (The Goddesses Aditi and Diti; Balarama – Sesa and the World’s Dissolution)
Bibliography – Works Cited and Studies on El Alhajadito; Index

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