Bernal Díaz del Castillo
I had Bernal Díaz del Castillo buried under my bed. Playing in front of my house as a boy, in the ruins of the cathedral of Antigua, in the subterranean passages that reached the foundations of our bedrooms, beneath the rear chapel, behind the high altar, there were tombs which mainly pertained to the Kingdom of Goathemala. We would hide in the crypts lining the north and south walls of the basement, presided over by a crucifix that was neglected at the time, but always with a few lit candles nowadays.
Díaz del Castillo's original manuscript, held in the National Archive, is one of our relics. The Library of Congress in Washington has ensured its safekeeping: each page was cleaned, fumigated and covered with transparent cellulose. On one occasion when I was consulting the manuscript, the director of the National Archive, J. Joaquín Pardo, showed me where Díaz del Castillo had crossed out the section where he writes of planting the first orange trees. Pardo was skeptical of the chronicler's assertion, but might the deletion not simply mean that Díaz del Castillo considered the detail insignificant, absorbed as he was by battles and events that seemed of greater value? Holding Díaz del Castillo's manuscript in my hands and leafing through this New World Iliad, seeing his signature and deciphering his sentences, was truly enthralling for me. A book I loved very much, about my world, and written in Antigua by the Spanish people who were slipping toward the other side without noticing it, very sixteenth-century, with the arrogance of a musketeer and the popular vigor of the language. We are both his sword and the flesh it pierces. There is a whole world contained in his lucid longevity and talent: he is the conquistador, chronicler, colonizer, lord of the manor, the first gachupín and, likewise, the first criollo, because this is where he was reborn. Unsatisfied with the Indians and lands he was allotted, he traveled to twice Spain to register his complaints. At the 1550 Junta of Valladolid, we see him defending the continued existence of the feudal system of the encomienda against Father Bartolomé de Las Casas. The conquistadors and their successors swelled archives with petitions and claims regarding the Indians they had won over to Christianity, and the lands they had won for the King, describing in detail all their vigils, fasts and battles. Time and again, Bernal Díaz del Castillo repeated the litany of his wounds, with such picturesque boasting-leaving out nothing, not even mythology-that we overlook his intrepidity to smile at his whining. Posterior to the Popol Vuh, this book is another giant of our culture: it belongs to the universal literature. When I read it for the first time, I felt its Amazonic flow and sailed, buffeted by its incessant reverberations.
During my first years in Paris, a French friend spoke to me enthusiastically and in detail of Díaz del Castillo's work, translated into French by the poet of Trophées. I had never even heard of it by name. Ashamed, I started to look for it. I found a Spanish version published in Paris by Louis-Michaud. How terrible our schooling was! And how terrible it continues to be! Our "education" consists in severing us from what belongs to us. We were taught little or nothing of aboriginal civilizations-the main trunk that could not even be felled by the bolt of lightning that was the Spanish Conquest. No effort whatsoever to build up any kind of national sentiment. My teachers had had an even more backward schooling, immersed in Father Ripalda's catechism. If those of us who spent our childhood and adolescence in Guatemala are not able to see ourselves, why should we be surprised that in allied or neighboring countries, the essence of what we are is widely forgotten or unknown? In Paris, I was made aware of the significance of Mayan culture. On discovering Díaz del Castillo, I experienced a true revelation. I traveled even further back in time. I examined my millenary interior. As I reached an awareness of myself and of my country, I suffered with the knowledge that my people did not possess that same awareness. I discovered Guatemala in Europe.
I started leafing through The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico at my student's desk, at night by lamplight. I skimmed summaries, the odd page, then began my reading in an orderly fashion. Tirelessly, I penetrated further and further into the enchanted forest, mesmerized by the story and by this encounter with my warrior culture, with the conquest. I was entering a distant and fascinating world. I witnessed and experienced the legendary campaign. I saw and heard it. I smelled its odor of iron, gunpowder and tired bodies. I was awed by the descriptions of Tenochtitlan, the markets and Moctezuma's court. The blood looked fresh on the steps of the pyramids. As Humboldt points out, the exhilaration of a newly discovered world is better transmitted by chroniclers than by poets. My first contact with this work was positively prodigious. Exhaustion came after reading for many hours without being able to stop. Captivated by descriptions and memories, I kept going, reading a little more, just a little more. I finally left off when the light of the new day began singing in my window.
This is the most comprehensive work on the conquest of America, though it speaks only of New Spain. It contains a wealth of information, and details of all orders, that we do not find in posterior writings on related events-not even adding them together. It was written in Antigua Guatemala, where Díaz del Castillo took up residence in 1545 at the age of forty-nine, and where he died in 1584 after having lived there for about thirty-nine years. He was an old man when he wrote his Discovery and Conquest, nearly half a century after the siege of Mexico Tenochtitlan and the conquest of Guatemala.
Bernal Díaz del Castillo's chronicle is the most important and engaging of all, the most truthful and comprehensive account of the conquest of America. He wrote it not only in his quest for truth, to refute the chronicles of Cortés's chaplain, Gómara, and his followers, but out of a need to relive the conquest, out of the same hunger that engendered Don Quixote in Cervantes.
(As of this the year 1568 in which I am transcribing this relation, there are five of us [here he refers to the survivors of the Mexico campaigns who arrived with Cortés]. We are very old and suffering from illnesses, and very poor, and burdened with sons and daughters to be married off, and grandchildren, and with little income, and this is how we spend our lives, in hardship and misery.)
Old wounds were opened as he wrote: he himself confesses that he slept with his arms loaded, and that in his old age, he slept fully dressed, accustomed to the exhausting days he spent in Mexico. He was twice conqueror, but the true conquest was the one he carried out seated at his desk, still wearing armor, but no longer wielding the saber.
-furthermore: I do not glorify myself as much as I could and should, and for that reason, I write so some record of me might remain; and I wish to make a comparison here, and though it may be very lofty on the one hand, and on the other a poor soldier like myself, those who recorded the statements of the Emperor and great warrior Julius Caesar affirm he was defeated in fifty-three battles; I declare that I fought many more battles than Julius Caesar·; so it would not be inordinate for me to expound upon the battles I fought and all that occurred, so that in years to come, people might say, this is what Bernal Díaz del Castillo did, so his children and descendants might hear praise of all his heroic deeds· I have fought in one hundred and nineteen battles and military encounters, and it is not overmuch for me to be praised for that, as it is the simple truth; and these are not tales told by poets, as the numerous and outstanding services I have performed firstly for God, and then for His Majesty and all Christianity, are quite clear and truthful, and I offer many thanks and much praise to Our Lord Jesus Christ for allowing me to escape danger so as to write so clearly now.
There are very close ties between this work and the author's life. There was nothing else he could have written. His heart was spilling over with it. Chroniclers would write of the Peru campaigns, campaigns against Turkey, Flanders or Italy, of strangers fighting strangers. Díaz del Castillo wrote about his life and about the land where he placed it at risk countless times. That is what makes his work unique, superior to the writings of historians for the perfect spontaneity of his testimony. He is the unknown soldier, the sweating troops bearing their arms and spoils, walking alongside the chief's mount; through him, they were given a voice, immorality. Pen in hand, he became the great adventurer, with the same fury as when he wielded his sword, with the faith that made his companions envision St James slaughtering Indians in the name of the Lord. He left us the conquest, fresh and bloody, gasping for all eternity.
Like many classic works, it is at once history, memoir, epic and novel. It is a chronicle brimming with anecdotes, descriptions, episodes, incidents, astute and opportune observations. He remembers everything-the one who was sheriff in his town, the one-eyed man, the one who died of buboes, the one who died in battle, or who died of his own death; the one married to a beautiful woman; the one whose horse was such-and-such a color and who played a crooked game of craps; their nicknames and moral and physical characteristics-all with such clarity that, simultaneously, he provides us with an infinity of perspectives on events retold in the orderly disorder of his memory. The manuscript often lacks correct syntax and spelling. He wrote words as they were pronounced, and pronounced them like a soldier from Old Castile who barely knew how to write. His punctuation consists solely of the period, which he places wherever he feels it pertinent: profusely and incongruously, with a devil-may-care attitude. These defects are like virtues to me. They permitted the creation of the work just as it is: guileless, exempt from any moralizing.
New adventurers-heirs to the conquistadors, influential politicians who did nothing to acquire the new land for Spain-reaped, as always, the benefits of the victories. And, too, the chroniclers who buried them alive, who dealt them the true deathblow by forgetting them. Like any good Spaniard, Bernal Díaz hungered for immortality. Sickness, relative poverty, old age, the facile and hollow victories of the newcomers were of little import. He took Don Quixote's lance from the wall and began writing, spurred on by that hunger that was so apt, so Spanish. He rights wrongs with simple bellicose determination. He never questions the mission of the invaders for a moment. He is categorical, inflexible. His name is justly written alongside those of his captains. He coveted military glory for himself and for his comrades, who found their own voice through him. And he won that glory for himself and for them, for those who found their way into his memory, for those who were not confused there. He won the definitive battle when-already an old man, but still vigorous-he committed this formidable adventure to writing.
The Indians fought with extraordinary heroism, but history has no remorse, and marches onward. They passed from their own tribal organizations into slavery, under the regimen of a superior culture: that of Europe's declining feudalism. Backward with respect to Europe, our cultures developed the societal differentiation typical to precapitalism, and thus, painfully, beginning in the sixteenth century, by way of colonialism (the only route known then, now a facet of late capitalism), they completed an evolutionary stage spanning the period from tribalism to the bases of modern society. Much of the sorrowful literature written in their interest is mestizo, produced by Latin Americans with a new awareness, a certain pride in their ancestry, mixed with shame over the abuse they were subjected to. The very name America is a conquest. And what beautiful barbarous clouds covering my complex, delicate ancestors! Since that time, it began to figure in the world we call civilized. There you have the troops: Christ, swords, gold, crosses. The troops found their identity in Bernal Díaz del Castillo. And with their blood, in the impregnated belly of the Indian woman, they identified themselves with what had been conquered. And they also attempted to identify themselves with the spirit, with the faith, imposing it with the same brutal Christian charity they had brought us. Their bones, their spirit, remained here for eternity. On every one of Díaz del Castillo's pages, we see them toppling idols and erecting other ones, stabbing, raping, incinerating, marking their territory like animals, and enslaving and burning and strangling the owners of the land, officiating at masses and baptizing in the name of the Lord.
The conquerors, in turn, began to succumb to their own conquest. The Indian remains-nearly unchanged, only more wretched and destitute, with no memory of his former power, retaining only a vague nostalgia for remote gods. The brutality of Christian charity was incapable of destroying this world it discovered intact: it thrust it into an indecisive cultural phase. The Spaniard ceased to be Spanish, but much of the Indian lived on within us, confused and contradictory. Two forces, manifest and recondite, as powerful as instincts, motivated the conquistadors: gold and religion. The conquest emerged as the last medieval crusade and an outgrowth of the Renaissance-fused, alloyed, they made up the conquistadors' armor. Since then, we have tried to remain true to broken traditions, though we no longer have faith. We lack religion and ethics, but we have a sense of the infinite. Or we wish to be integrated into distant traditions. Our social and political structures have all been false: a true republic has never existed among us; almost invariably, our Congress and House of Representatives have been mere gatherings of the puppets of a dictator in the service of landowners and foreign monopolies. These tendencies began with the first conquistadors. Díaz del Castillo was already a little of this world, just a little, still firm in his initial brutal position, convinced of the Spaniards' mission, while sliding through time toward us, embracing the same aborigines they slaughtered in these lands and elsewhere.
We experience the fatigue, the weight of his armor along with him. We live their life. He recounts the events plainly, graphically, combining the most varied and unexpected details, of a seemingly inexhaustible informativeness and utility. Freshness, candor, and, despite his repetitions, errors, contradictions and probable exaggerations, the most truthful, the most genuine, and incomparably the best chronicle of the conquest. His relation is the most complex and most complete. It defines the age and the conquistadors. We live side-by-side with the invading Spaniards, the brash troops on a quest for gold, assisted by arquebuses and scapulars. They burst through the convoluted sentences in full force, in the naive and valuable details that make the text what it is:
they killed my horse and it cost me 600 pesos...I declare I have lusted not for gold but for saving lives; because our own were in great danger; but this did not stop me from seizing a small pouch because it contained four chalchihuis, which are very precious stones among the Indians; I quickly hid it in my bosom, among my arms...and even the four chalchihuis I took, had I not hidden them in my bosom, Cortés would have demanded them of me, but their value was sufficient for healing my wounds and for food.
Luckily, Bernal Díaz del Castillo was no historian. Luckily, he barely knew how to write. Later there would be men to give us the conquest in harmonic order; to give us a dried and dissected version of what Díaz del Castillo delivers to us still throbbing-the marvel he preserved alive forever in the reality of his rapt, ardent memory. His narrative is more than just history. It is the epic voice in the most grandiose of Spanish exploits. Its errors do not take away from the book's perfection; its defects become assets. Indeed, the warmth and life of these pages reside in their simplicity, their vehemence. Its ability to revive those days is not affected in the least by the errors it contains. They are secondary to the vast spirit of the work, and many remain open to question even after having been corrected. Who could correct someone who participated in one of the most dramatic and prodigious adventures in history, years after the fact, and relying on posterior chronicles-for the most part, obviously politically motivated and written with a specific goal in mind? Díaz del Castillo proposed merely to narrate the insurgent memories fighting to leap from his head to the written page. This is a document to which one returns either for pleasure or for study. Its manifold riches are barely perceptible; evident are his sincerity and practicable forthrightness amid the tangle of events. Opposing narratives were born, even within the lifetime of protagonists and witnesses: each wrote commentaries, hypotheses, and differing interpretations of the same events. These equally valid testimonies were superimposed by contradictory proofs and new solutions.
Free of any hint of politics, despite his explicit intent, the work of this brilliant chronicler resists the sharpest criticism. His pomposity is evidence in his favor, as is his lack of education. His loyalty to and love for Cortés were not blind, but rather, shrewd or wise. Some of his oversights are glaring, though not at all suspect. He contradicts himself at times. For example, the figures he cites on the army's withdrawal from Mexico: he states that the rear guard was made up of 120 Spaniards, but in the same paragraph, 150 of those Spaniards were killed. How widely do the versions of different chroniclers vary! The Yankee historian Prescott set out those differences out in the form of a table.
The same occurs with chronological data and the appallingly disfigured indigenous names that are sometimes even unrecognizable. Prescott's efforts resulted in the most precise synthesis possible of the same events. Nevertheless, on Bernal's pages I see the conquest more clearly, more vigorously, as if on film. There can be no comparison between two texts such as those of the soldier and the historian-works from two different worlds. But incomparable as they may be, each one's perfection is enhanced when they are placed side-by-side. In the end, however, the conquistador's testimony is more believable than Prescott's synthesis, for its humanity and its spirit. The epoch emerges with such a degree of reality that it seems like fiction-as unreal and as truthful as a dream. From the heights of a temple, we contemplate white cities among lagoons, droves of horses; we hear arquebuses, the market's hum, and the strange, mournful hum of the sybaritic Emperor's court.
He tells us he showed his chronicle to two scholars who wished to know more about the episodes of the conquest:
...and I loaned it to them, because something of wise men always sticks to uneducated fools like myself, and I told them not to amend a single detail of the conquests, neither adding to them nor taking anything out, because everything I write is very truthful...the licentiates told me that in terms of rhetoric, it corresponds to our common tongue of Old Castile, which these days is considered more gratifying because it does not fall into embellished or beautified arguments such as those generally composed by chroniclers who write of things of war...curious readers take note of occurrences as they are written and take no note of either rhetoric or fineries; for it is clear that those accounts are more amenable than my uncouth one; but its truthfulness makes up for the lack of eloquence and little rhetoric, let us cease to speak of and bring to mind declared erasures, as I am still more compelled to speak the truth of all that occurs than blandishments.
Here he stole a march on his future critics, challenging chroniclers such as Gómara and Solís; he criticized his critics and commentators. The licentiates descended on him-as many of his glossators would do later-brandishing their ridiculous grammatician's swords. The confessions at which they take aim are like virtues to me. Díaz del Castillo cannot be judged as history. He is a soldier recounting his battles-and what a manner of recounting them! His life, his work, sculpt him entirely. When the judges in a Cuban court refused to listen to him, he drew his sword, ready to attack. The guards disarmed him. Traces of the great man of La Mancha and his squire can often be detected in him. His work will never be a mere historical document, a simple chronicle of memorable matters. If we were to suppress his arrogance, his unwonted though opportune observations, and his coarse but precise language (though the popular expression of Old Castile, the richest and most capitoso language in Spain, also dwelled within him in the most perfect and natural way, as it did in Teresa de Jesús); in short, if we were to provide him with either a professor's mortarboard or the pen of a graduate student, the book would be just that: a history, a chronicle, a memoir, when in fact it is memoir, novel, epic, chronicle and history all rolled up into one, and written with pure, innate linguistic genius. The conquest is represented here with all its complex currents. The conquest: Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, the cross, gold·forces that Spain channeled into the mystics, poets and painters of the Golden Age, and into the navigators and conquistadors, all of whom were driven by the same impulse, but in different directions-to action, or to the essence of action: dreams.
We find ourselves in the midst of the conquest as though in a living myth. The conquest: a dragon with the wings of an angel. It resembles an abstract motif, out of time and space, so real it strikes one as implausible. Díaz del Castillo left that buried world alive and fresh and within reach. Whenever I read his book I am surprised and delighted anew. To be impartial, one must be passionate: his transparent, deep-seated passion truly forms an almost unreal reality-at times, one would even say fantastic episodes, mythological stories, and spectacular, superhuman battles. But then we learn the heroes' names, we fraternize with them, we see them pitted with smallpox scars, we find out they cheat at cards, we are told the color of their steeds, and that the one who was sheriff of his hometown had a good voice, or that he was blind in one eye, or married to a beautiful woman. The story flows smoothly and simply, a mighty river neither stemmed nor diverted by any eminence. He does not try to prove anything; rather, he makes us forget his designs. He reports what happened, just as he remembers it; he tells it conversationally, confident in his memory which appears infallible. If he did not take part in the battles or expeditions he describes, he forewarns us. He figured in the chief exploits, but even when he did not, he possessed thorough knowledge of all he relates. His book is the Conquest of America. It is the era of Ponce de León and the fountain of eternal youth; of Vázquez de Coronado and Fray Marco de Niza; of the wondrous islands, of Cortés, the Alvarados and their armadas that would voyage to mythic lands.
The charges he lays against Cortés seem just. Doubtless he expresses the thoughts and feelings of the troops. He holds Cortés in great esteem, but not blindly: his vision is open and alert. The accusations against Cortés and other leaders are not in the least suspect. Despite their defense on the part of historians, the charges hold good. Gold kept them splintered into groups-factions that were quick to turn on one another. The history of conquest and colonization revolves around the dispute over the land and its government. His allegations are sound, yet he zealously leaps to the defense of the chief, exalting him, comparing him to the greatest of commanders. Consider certain suggestive passages where it is necessary to read between the lines. During the siege of Mexico City, he fought in the column commanded by Pedro de Alvarado. Díaz del Castillo wrote the most accurate account of that army's activities, and he was fully informed of everything he related regarding other columns, as well as the brigs, because of the constant contact that existed between them. The failure of a few meant the death of the rest. The column captained by Pedro de Alvarado carried out maneuvers very similar to those of other columns. Prescott undertook to establish a correspondence between the versions of conquistadors and chroniclers, without much luck. His comprehensive and simultaneous perspective of the siege of Mexico City is one of the best attempts at reconstructing the events. The contradictions between chronicles are so huge, the discrepancies so marked, that any correspondence must necessarily be factitious. The siege is preserved in all its intensity, with the greatest possible accuracy, in this soldier's tale. Facts are not the same for every witness, and more so in an event of such magnitude as the conquest of a people. The different testimonies are nearly impossible to coordinate. Cortés wrote his Letters from Mexico with a determined aim, for his interest in the Spanish cortes, his quarrels with Diego Velázquez, and out of a sense of his own responsibilities. The facts shift and are oriented to his advantage. Everything is seen from his position as leader: these are political letters. Pedro de Alvarado's Account of the Conquest of Guatemala are written in an immensely laconic, military style. They are rigid, expressionless letters, totally lacking in humanity: communiqués from one soldier to another. Pedro de Alvarado saw everything through the slits in his helmet, from inside the armor that never permitted the beat of his heart to be sensed. Of all the chronicles of America, perhaps only those of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega are comparable to Díaz del Castillo's Discovery and Conquest, but they are not endowed with the same virtues.
I have taken care not to yield to my enthusiasm, fearful of surrendering a considered assessment of the work to laudatory phrases with neither wings nor roots. Every work must be approached with a fresh memory, but never overly innocent; we must be agile and flexible. But this is one that must be embarked on with excessive care. Bernal Díaz del Castillo's relation can now be read without dumb passion, without interference by religious sentiment and romantic laments for the fate of the Indians. The idealism represented by someone like Philip II was substantial. But it is not the process of conquest and the men who carried it out that interest me: I do not wish to either exalt or belittle Cortés and the Alvarados; nor do I wish to approve or reprove the invaders and their fanaticisms, which were even blinder than the local ones. It is only natural for our voice to sound severe at times when speaking of our own conquest and colonization: we have risen above these events partly from the imperialist point of view, but primarily from an indigenous one. Going back to Bernal Díaz del Castillo, by way of Prescott and his contemporaries, there has been a desire to idealize the Malinche, to create a kind of heroine of her. But in the Americas, her true significance has remained unchanged: un malinche, a traitor; malinchismo, a preference for things foreign; malinchista, one who displays this preference; and so forth.
I have tried to read Discovery and Conquest as if the events it related were unreal, as if it dealt with lunar voyages, as a myth of origins. A myth that is even more astounding for its sound basis on a reality very close at hand, tangible within me. It was written by a soldier with no other desire than that of providing an accurate account of events. He expresses himself with such perfect aplomb that his words are never shaken: they are nailed down, candidly firm. He does not question, he does not waver an instant as to the mission of the invaders; he does not think of objecting to it; he does not recognize the possibility of it containing a large measure of iniquity. He is clear, he is frank; he speaks from the pinnacle of his candor. One would say impersonal, but with naive, diaphanous passion, with mineral certitude, the way a peninsula does not pass judgment on the ocean.
It is not a memoir; it is not a novel; it is neither a history book nor a chronicle. Having spilled out of these molds, they cannot accommodate it. It is perhaps one of the most consummate monuments of folk art. It is the work of the people, of the troops of the conquest. If we seek the kind of precision that cannot be demanded of it, if we attempt to measure it in standard units, we are shown up as fools. It would be like trying to correct the drawing techniques on an ex-voto or the language of a folk song. As insensitive as we may be, we will soon notice that we knock down invisible structures of glass at every step, however carefully we tread. How I would love to own an edition of this book in its true language, with its nearly illusory punctuation, faithful to the original-what a labyrinth! We know his chronology and itineraries to be questionable. He was neither a historian nor a chronicler. I do not know what he was, nor do I trouble myself about it. I will read the book again, without troubling to classify it. In one man, I discovered an entire epoch and a sense of universality. I am reminded of Benvenuto and his exquisite Memoirs. We are drawn by this universality more than by any historical interest. And add to this other elements such as extraordinary scenes, moments, individuals and episodes from history. Any comparison is virtually irrelevant. This work remains untouched, original, unique. I read back through the Night of Sorrow, and Pedro de Alvarado makes an unexpected appearance:
Because later we found Don Pedro de Alvarado badly wounded, with a lance through his hand, on foot because the sorrel mare had died, and he was accompanied by seven soldiers, three of ours and four of Narváez's, also badly wounded, and eight Tlascaltecs with blood flowing from their many wounds· They said to us, "O! O! the huilones" which means, "O! you sissies, here you are still alive, have the brave soldiers not killed you yet?"
The book's heaven is its humanity. Díaz del Castillo's reflections were simple and passionate, with restrained vehemence. The conquering army, the people that writes folk ballads, or hauls stone for the cathedrals-all of them sing with his voice. One is hard put to find anyone who dislikes him, because he is always within everybody's reach, for one reason or another. Like the clouds, he takes on any form we are able to give him. There are so many routes through his madreporic structure that it is up to each traveler to find what he is seeking. Whatever is sought is found-in complete disarray, but pure.
The significance of any judgment is linked to the creativity of the commentator. Criticism is creation. Clouds possess a thousand forms at once; they change according to the tone of our voice. But not everyone appreciates the ubiquity of clouds; not everyone is able to sculpt them, and they appear to them as promontories. Díaz del Castillo's target moved and he shot his silver bullets in all directions. The stray bullets hit other targets. His work's historical transcendence is immense, but nevertheless, it is like an add-on. The cloud, like a mass of viscera, entrails. Bernal, gored through the belly. He is old, he walks bowed down; he kneels, piously licks his throbbing organs, crosses himself, and does not die. He feared death: he was truly brave. He wrote his impartial work drawing on all kinds of passion, because he was a passionate person. Little by little, he dragged the stones toward the cathedral. The cloud begins dancing and singing folk ballads. For moments, it is the flight of doves. A cumulous of the armor and arrows of troops, and shouts. Books are valued for reasons that have no weight nor influence for anyone but ourselves.
The book's sky is its humanity. Clouds· Events come to life within their own atmosphere. Pages into the book, one truly finds oneself in the midst of the conquest. Memory persists at the point where one can no longer be sure whether it is memory or a dream-sheer reality. History, legend: truth that defies time. Anything pure tends toward the mythical, toward the sky of clouds. This book must be read with a fresh mind that takes pleasure from in the popular muses. On Captain Díaz del Castillo's branches, during a mental springtime, those delicious fruits are never overripe.

 


 

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