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Álvaro Cunqueiro: Un hombre que se parecía a Orestes [A Man Who Was Like Orestes]

Another fine novel from Cunqueiro, using and updating an old myth. This one was written in Spanish, not Galician, but it is still a Galician novel. It takes the Greek myth of Orestes and makes it a Galician myth. Cunqueiro does two things, as he did in earlier works such as Merlin e familia (Merlin and Company). Firstly, he sets his story in Galicia, not Greece. The characters have the Greek names but are clearly in Galicia. Not only are they in Galicia but they are in a Galicia that has no temporal boundaries. It could be the Middle Ages, the Renaissance or it could be earlier or later or it could be all of them. Secondly, he changes the story. In the Greek myth, Orestes returns to slay Aegisthus, his step-father, and Clytemnestra, his mother, who had killed Agamemnon, his father. He does this, with the aid of his sister, Electra. In this novel, they have been waiting for years for Orestes to come and seek his revenge but he does not come. They check all strangers, make inquiries in neighbouring kingdoms but to no avail, except for a few unsubstantiated rumours. When he does finally arrive, he does not, as has been forecasted, come armed with a sword. Indeed, this is not the vengeful Orestes but the Orestes who likes to travel around and enjoy life. Is he a threat to Aegisthus or is he just a regular guy? For Cunqueiro the answer is clear, Orestes is a regular Galician and not a vengeful Greek.

Publishing history

First published in Spanish 1969 by Destino
No English translation