RÃ³mulo Gallegos is best known for being Venezuelaâ€™s first democratically elected president. But in his native land he is equally famous as a writer responsible for one of Venezuelaâ€™s literary treasures, the novel DoÃ±a Barbara. Published in 1929 and all but forgotten by Anglophone readers, DoÃ±a Barbara is one of the first examples of magical realism, laying the groundwork for later authors such as Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez and Mario Vargas Llosa.
Following the epic struggle between two cousins for an estate in Venezuela, DoÃ±a Barbara is an examination of the conflict between town and country, violence and intellect, male and female. DoÃ±a Barbara is a beautiful and mysterious womanâ€”rumored to be a witchâ€”with a ferocious power over men. When her cousin Santos Luzardo returns to the plains in order to reclaim his land and cattle, he reluctantly faces off against DoÃ±a Barbara, and their battle becomes simultaneously one of violence and seduction. All of the action is set against the stunning backdrop of the Venezuelan prairie, described in loving detail. Gallegosâ€™s plains are filled with dangerous ranchers, intrepid cowboys, and damsels in distress, all broadly and vividly drawn. A masterful novel with an important role in the inception of magical realism, DoÃ±a Barbara is a suspenseful tale that blends fantasy, adventure, and romance.
Hailed as â€œthe Bovary of the llanoâ€ by Larry McMurtry in his new foreword to this book, DoÃ±a Barbarais a magnetic and memorable heroine, who has inspired numerous adaptations on the big and small screens, including a recent television show that aired on Telemundo.