Penguin Books publishes Noli Me Tangere

noli_me_tangereGoodNewsPilipinas – Penguin Books has published the newest translation of Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” for the global market. This establishes the Rizal novel as one of the world’s classics, an epic novel that contends with Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.”

Penguin uses a lurid cover — it’s as if it was designed to illustrate the fact that the book ignited our 1898 revolution against Spain. On the contrary, the new cover merely tries to emulate Rizal’s original distinguished cover design.

This translation, from the original Castilian by Rizal, is by the Latin-American scholar, Harold Augenbraum. It is “a labor of love” for Augenbraum who gives it a solid foundation. He back its up with the import of the introduction and expounds. All the work he poured into this book speak of that love!
Rizal’s Castilian is rendered into today’s accessible English (how Rizal would have written it in English now). Gone are the “Victorianisms” of previous translators – like Derbyshire’s.The first-time reader is given language with an endearing sparkle, intelligent, civilized , sometimes lively, racy, hewing closely to Rizal’s exact meaning, form and verve.

In effect, Augenbraum offers us a “modern” novel of prophetic education, this, Rizal’s target-objective, to be relished, enjoyed, thought about.Pondered!The novel, a national treasure, is a blueprint of our present and future.Rizal the architect of our nationhood, the father of our race.

Says Augenbraum: “The story is simple; the main part of the action runs from just before All Souls’ to Christmas, with an epilogue that takes place later. Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, a young, affluent, second generation Filipino of mixed ancestry, returns to the Philppines after seven years of European travel and study.”

His memories of the friars, who control the Church and much of Filipino polity, are inconsistent with the current situation. He has comeback for several reasons: to see his father, to claim his heritage as a force for moral and social good in his own country, and to marry his childhood sweetheart, Maria Clara.

Ibarra has purity of heart despite his naivete; he wills the goodness of his heart to be for the moral and social goodness of his own country; topping this, to marry his ideal love, Maria Clara, who symbolizes Inang Pilipinas.

Rizal first gives us the event; then the consequences follow. The characters are the event that birth the consequences!

Evil exists. It is delineated by its performances, its acts, under many aliases and disguises.

Part of the roster is: Padre Damaso (observe the puns); Padre Salvi; Padre Sybila; then Capitan Tiago (cuckolded by Padre Damaso);Elias; Pilosopong Tasio; and other minor actors.To borrow the words of another writer, Rizal created a new and terrifying mythology of our present venal, deteriorating, corrupt times.

In “Noli Me Tangere,” demonic Friarocracy (so well-starred by Fray Damaso, so ironical for a Franciscan) is the full bedfellow of Oligarchy (read Pornocracy). The Friar is the incomparable tyrant, abominable religious yeti, the savage sole power wielding the cross like a sword upon whose bloodied hands the fate of Filipinas lies.

Rizal is playful with his use of mockery, irony, paradox,satire, the comical, disdain; he sets all this up like chess pieces.

Rizal’s omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence in “Noli Me Tangere” to be the sole potent, nay, impregnable authority in his characterizing his chaste, pure love story, though unrequited, sharply contrasted with the sacrilegious, profane abuse of power civil and religious of the Friar; the corruption, the abominations, the utter immorality of his usurpation of the Potentate God!
And the Friar’s lightning bolt to the Indio’s disobedience, making him obsequious, to his commands and demands, plunging him down into hellfire and damnation. In short, the friar is the best practitioner of Priestcraft (like selling indulgences, for instance); isn’t that Witchcraft?

Rizal exposes the hideous, hypocritical ugly face of evil, both religious and civil. You’ll learn how the Clergy landgrabbed our ancestral lands; how it maltreated our natives.By coercion of fear. By keeping us ignorant and uneducated; not teaching us to speak Spanish, not learning to speak Tagalog.

Rizal absolutely wanted to sow the seeds of the best in European Enlightenment education in our fertile innocent minds; that we will not be free when educated: But Will Be Educated When Free! The debilitating, poisonous, killing air of the past is still very much with us. Read “Noli Me Tangere” for its prophetic education. We have to dig all this up in the book. Very much of what it says there is still very much with us (its cast of characters is very much around).

The solutions to all our economic, social, moral, political problems do not lie beyond the seas. They are all here, within each and every one of us. We are equipped with the spiritual wisdom to resolve all this. All This Rizal Avers, Avows!

Unless the Filipino acts; NOW. He will suffer the eternal recurrence of the same. As he suffers the Amnesia Of Our Past!

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