This is the introduction to a vocabulary list and reading aids for reasonably advanced readers of works by the Chilean writer, film director, journalist, and political activist, Luis Sepúlveda (1949 – present), including:
La sombra de lo que fuimos is a relatively complex book, both because of the historical context in which it is set and because of its highly personal, and sometimes humorous, account of the impact of a 30-year exile on the main characters (and author). For that reason, I include several supplementary materials that may help in understanding the book:
- A list of historical characters and acronyms mentioned in the novel, along with brief descriptions of their significance.
- The epilogue begins with a brief stanza from the song, Tonada de Manuel Rodríguez, whose lyrics are from a poem by Pablo Neruda and whose music is by Vicente Bianchi. Manuel Rodríguez was a famous national hero in Chile during the wars of independence with Spain from 1810-1818, and later became a legendary figure.
- Mural painting and graffiti became important tools in the Chilean political upheaval of the 1960s, 1970s, and Pinochet’s subsequent dictatorship. I include some background and examples of this art form.
- Claudia Gatzemeier published a recent paper (2011) that explores the contribution of narrative literature to (re)constitute a collective memory of the most recent Chilean socio-political history. She analyzes two prize-winning novels: La sombra de lo que fuimos by Luis Sepúlveda (2009) and Espejos quebrados by Ángel Saldomando (2009).
The aggregate vocabulary and other materials to assist in reading and understanding the context of Sepúlveda’s works were collected and developed by TC Rindfleisch. The vocabulary is focused on unfamiliar words, local idioms, and words that appear to be English cognates but really are not. A pdf version of this vocabulary list is also available on-line.
These materials are for non-commercial educational or personal use. Please contact me with corrections or additions.
(Last update 5/7/2015)