This biting commentary on the follies of mankind by a noted Mexican author cuts deeply yet leaves readers laughing—at themselves as well as at others. With his surgical intelligence, Juan José Arreola exposes the shams and hypocrisies, the false values and vices, the hidden diseases of society. Confabulario total, 1941–1961, of which this book is a translation, combines three earlier books—Varia invención (1949), Confabulario (1952), Punta de plata (1958)—and numerous later pieces.
Although some of the pieces have a noticeably Mexican orientation, most of them transcend strictly regional themes to interpret the social scene in aspects common to all civilized cultures. Arreola’s view is not limited; much of his sophistication comes from his broad, deep, and varied knowledge of present and past, and from his almost casual use both of this knowledge and of his insight into its meaning for humanity. His familiarity with many little-known arts and sciences, numerous literatures, history, anthropology, and psychology, and his telling allusions to this rich lode of fact, increase the reader’s delight in his learned but witty, scalding but poetic, satire.