Isabel Allende, a Chilean Journalist and short story writer, was born in Lima, Peru on August 2, 1942. Allende often blended elements of realism and fantasy in her works to examine the tumultuous social and
political heritage of South America. She frequently drew upon her own experiences as well as those of her family. During her adolescence she became a journalist, working on television programs and newsreels, as well as writing for a radical feminist magazine. Her life changed abruptly in 1973 when a military coup resulted in the assassination of Salvador Allende. Allende, the president of Chile, also was her uncle and godfather whom she contacted after her parents' divorce. Her efforts to assist the opposition of the new regime ultimately endangered her safety, and in 1974 she escaped with her family to Caracas, Venezuela.
Allende's literary career began when she started to write a letter to her dying grandparent, a nearly one-hundred-year-old man who had remained in Chile. Allende had explained that, "My grandfather thought people died only when you forgot them. I wanted to prove to him that I had forgotten nothing, that his spirit was going to live with us forever." Allende never sent the letter to her grandfather, who soon died, but her memories of her family and her country were the genesis of her first novel, The House of the Spirits (1982; The House of the Spirits).
This work, set in an unnamed South American country recognizable as Chile, spans six decades and tells the story of three generations of a family shaken by domestic and political conflicts. Several reviewers
have considered her first novel to be closely imitative of the magical realist style introduced by the "Boom," a literary movement of the 1960s. De Amor y de Sombra (1984; Of Love and Shadows), also occurred in a country where citizens are repressed by the policies of a military regime.
Allende's novels and short story collections have been translated into many languages and have achieved international popular acclaim. Furthermore, critics have generally come to value Allende not only as a commentator on the turbulent nature of Latin-American society but also as an author of powerful, humanistic fiction. Some have even placed her in the ranks of the "Boom" tradition novelists she resembles.
De Amor y de Sombra:
"Esta es la historia de una mujer y un hombre que se amaron en plenitud, salvandose asi de una existencia vulgar. La he llevado en la memoria cuidandola para que el tiempo no la desgaste y es solo ahora, en las noches calladas de este llugar, cuando puedo finalmente contarla. Lo hare por ellos y por otros que me confiaron sus vidas diciendo: toma, escribe, para que no lo borre el viento."
The novel of Isabel Allende, Of Love and Shadows, begins almost humorously with the switching of two baby girls. The story becomes more complex, however, when one of the babies grows up to become the focus of a journalist's investigation. After a reporter and photographer expose the political murder of the girl, they are forced to flee the country. Above all, this is the love story of two young people who are sharing the fate of their historical circumstances, meeting the challenge of discovering the truth and determined to live their life fully but accepting their world of love and shadows. In this novel similarly as her other novels, Allende incorporates her past into her work by setting the novel in a country where citizens are repressed by the policies of a military regime.
(De Amor y de Sombra, Isabel Allende p.5)
For more information onIsabel Allende check out these websites: