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The Malinche; on the edge of two worlds


MEXICO CITY.

Although Malinche is considered the champion of feminism or the black beast of history, she would first have to be seen as a survivor, says writer and researcher José Luis Trueba Lara, author of Malinche, the novel that tells the life of a woman ” who was swept away by the conquest and who proposed something difficult at that time: to survive. Furthermore, she was the woman who learned to handle an unknown game, that of the Spanish, the Aztec nobles and a war that she had never seen ”.

For the author, La Malinche, in addition to being a survivor, is a character who walked between two worlds, since she kept one foot in the pre-Hispanic and the other in the Spanish, that is, she was a kind of borderline that at this time could help reconcile us with our past, within the framework of the 500 years since the arrival of Cortés and the consummation of the conquest that will take place in 2021.

Narrated in the first person, Malinche –published by the publishing house Océano– begins with the last moments of the character, while doing an exercise of introspection and confessing without fear, that she feels the watchful gaze of death, affirms that she is cursed and that she has no nothing to regret.

I survived and advanced through the world without anyone being able to stop me. Men could not kill me and the jungle did not poison my body with the poison of green madness while I was in Las Hibueras ”, says the character who alternates between Mesoamerican and Catholic gods.

And it is defined as follows: “I am the one who walks on the wall and does not belong to any people. I can no longer even know what my name is: I am oblivion, I am the Navy, I am Malinche, I am Malinalli; I am also the whore and the lady, the tongue and the survivor, the one who can do everything and the one who always ends up defeated ”.

Despite everything, Trueba acknowledges, Malinche never stopped being a slave. “No, she never stopped being linked to her men, because she was a woman of her time and, no matter how valuable and survivor she was, she was tied to the male world.” It does not matter if it was with whom she bought it, with her father or Cortés. In spite of everything, “she tried to survive the decisions, because a mistake would have destined her for the worst. Let’s not forget those women who died after tumultuous rapes ”.

Why in this novel is there no romantic sentiment of Malinche for Cortés? “In many novels in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it is seen from a romantic point of view, where she falls in love with Cortés and is left by the conqueror, but I doubt that something like that has happened, because romanticism will come centuries later.”

THE TREASONS

For Lara Trueba, La Malinche places Mexicans in front of something very important: “finding a way to reconcile with our past. Because the past has become a place of disputes and I understand disputes as the fact of apologizing to the Spanish government, of making the speech of Benito Juárez or Leona Vicario their own ”.

However, he explained, “that speech does not seem to be able to reconcile us with the past, because the past seems a place of good and bad, where we want to judge. What I would like is for us to stop judging the past and ask ourselves a different question, that is, why not instead of judging we try to understand the past and, to the extent that we are able to do so and understand that that past is embedded in our bodies, we can consider the possibility of discussing the present and the future we want. But if we turn that past into a mirror for confrontations, we will not be able to sit down and talk ”.

What often happens is that, by looking into the past, we turn some into enemies –as happens with Hernán Cortés and Malinche, who is seen as a traitor– and we turn others into pristine heroes, like Cuauhtémoc, “and in that sense we deny the existence of indigenous people and blacks, without thinking that the miscegenation was not only of indigenous and Spanish, but of many types of indigenous, Spanish, black and Asian, and it is in these differences that our truth lies ”.

What historical sources did you find the most unexpected in creating this narrative? “From the time of Malinche there is one that seems to me the worst, but it is the most beautiful. I am referring to the true history of the conquest of New Spain, by Bernal Díaz del Castillo. It seems to me that it is absolutely false, but it is beautiful and you cannot stop reading it, because he invents that Malinche was a princess and elaborates a whole history of chivalry. I think she doesn’t hit anything, but she’s very pretty.

And another that I found very interesting is in the works of the American historian Camilla Townsend. She has written quite a bit about Malinche and it forced me to rethink the character. However, when you sit down to write, what you have to do is commit a betrayal of your sources and if you don’t betray them… well, who knows what you’re doing ”, she said.

What do you mean? “Because, if it were a history book, I would have to be very faithful to my source, but Malinche is not a history book, but a novel and this encourages that in the plot there is something of what really happened, but also about what could have happened and what is not known or perhaps did not happen, because my interest was to create a credible character who would have a complete life, which we do not know about Malinche ”, concluded Trueba Lara.

  • TITLE: Malinche
  • AUTHOR: Jose Luis Trueba Lara
  • EDITORIAL: Ocean, Mexico, 2020; 284 pp.

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