Isn't it fabulous, never better said, that a finished, round, be so short that it serves as a title to a text about herself?
The author of this mini-story titled it The dinosaur. "When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there." The brevity of Augusto Monterroso, which he considers a burden, since he would like to be able to write extensive works, has nevertheless been pointed out by some critics as essential element of originality and quality. «Laborious and impoverishing delirium to compose vast books; that of expanding in five hundred pages an idea whose perfect oral presentation fits in a few minutes ”, as Jorge Luis Borges would say (as he wrote in the prologue to his Fictions).
Photo by jerryr924 / Jerry Russell.
The fact that the character was sleeping only increases in the reader precisely that feeling of having missed something. In fact: What is more disturbing? That a dinosaur appear, or what happened to the character while he was asleep? It is impressive how many reflections can arise (and which arose and continue to arise, of course) around just seven words. So much so that it is not surprising that this story is used as a starting point for class exercises. It serves as an excuse to ask kids direct questions such as "What are dinosaurs?" "As they are?" but also for others that are not so direct, and that carry intrinsic literary efforts: «What happened before? And then? What was the situation like? 'The ability to choose a task and the absence of correct answers can lead to imagination and many individual responses in which students can take advantage of the associations and vocabulary established between them,' explains Professor Ingunn Hansejordet.
The weight of the narrative falls on the unsaid, which precisely encourages the multiplicity of interpretations. The reader is overwhelmed by surprise, ambiguity, often confused by the short narrative. The feeling that something escapes us forces us to turn on the machinery of interpreting, the imagination. «The story would have a fantastic cut if we take the dinosaur as something real, as a conjunction of the prehistoric past, where this creature lives, with the present of a logical and rational world, where man lives. In other interpretations, we would be facing a mystery or police narrative, if the dinosaur were a nickname for some man. It could also be a comedy, or even have political content, if we give this connotation to the term 'dinosaur' ”. This is how Faustino Gerardo Cerdán Vargas explains it in the article Augusto Monterroso and the mini-story. The literary work is always the medium of the person who writes it, the medium of the person who reads and interprets it.
Monterroso's transgression went well. Whoever still claims that the short story or the micro-stories are a minor genre, will have to give many more arguments to support themselves after the publication of The dinosaur. And whoever does not want to believe it yet, take a look at the list of followers, from the writer Pablo Urbanyi (he did something that is, at the same time, a parody and a tribute: «When he woke up, he sighed in relief: the dinosaur was no longer there.») To the many and varied authors who have been inspired by it and can be found on the same internet in which he triumphs Twitter.
- Faustino Gerardo Cerdán Vargas. Augusto Monterroso and the mini-story. In: The word and the man. Magazine of the Universidad Veracruzana number 125.
- Ingunn Hansejordet. Work with literary texts in class.
- Paul Urbani
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