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Winter is Not Eternal. Review of the book : Paraguayan writer Juan Manuel Marcos "Gunter´s Winter" (Juan Manuel Marcos. El invierno de Gunter / Juan Manuel Marcos. – Asunción : Criterio Ediciones, 2012. – 368 pp.) : English translation Jose Antonio Alonso Navarro, PhD.

 © The Editorial Team of Linguistic Studies

Linguistic Studies
Volume 30, 2015, pp. 149-151

Winter is Not Eternal. Review of the book : Paraguayan writer Juan Manuel Marcos "Gunter´s Winter" (Juan Manuel Marcos. El invierno de Gunter / Juan Manuel Marcos. – Asunción : Criterio Ediciones, 2012. – 368 pp.) : English translation Jose Antonio Alonso Navarro, PhD.

Igor Protsenko

Article first published online: August 1, 2015 

Additional information

 Author Information: 

Igor Protsenko, Doctor of Philosophy, Candidate of Philology, Coordinator Academico Asociado working for a doctoral degree in Universidad del Norte (Asunción, Paraguay); Candidate of Philology, Associate Professor at Department of Roman Languages in Donetsk National University (Vinnytsia, Vinnytsia region, Ukraine). Correspondence: protsent2002@mail.ru

Protsenko, IgorWinter is Not Eternal. Review of the book : Paraguayan writer Juan Manuel Marcos "Gunter´s Winter" (Juan Manuel Marcos. El invierno de Gunter / Juan Manuel Marcos. – Asunción : Criterio Ediciones, 2012. – 368 pp.) : English translation Jose Antonio Alonso Navarro, PhD. [Text] / Igor Protsenko // 
Лінгвістичні студії : міжнародний зб. наук. праць. – Київ – Вінниця : ДонНУ, 2015. – Випуск 30. – С. 149-151. / Linguistic Studies : international collection of scientific papers / Donetsk National University Ed. by A. P. Zahnitko. – Kyiv – Vinnytsia : DonNU, 2015. – Vol. 30. – Pp. 149-151. 

Publication History:
Volume first published online: 
August 1, 2015

Article received: 5 January 2015, accepted: February 10, 2015 and first published online: August 1, 2015


  1. 1 Article.




Review of the book :

Paraguayan writer Juan Manuel Marcos

Gunter´s Winter

(Juan Manuel Marcos. El invierno de Gunter [Text] / Juan Manuel Marcos. – 

Asunción : Criterio Ediciones, 2012. – 368 pp.)


In 2014, a novel titled Gunter´s Winter, written by the famous Paraguayan writer Juan Manuel Marcos, ideological inspirer of a new direction in contemporary Latin American literature of the so-called postboom movement, was translated into Ukrainian for the first time. The translation was carried out by Igor Protsenko, a PhD, candidate in Philology at the Department of Romance Languages at Donetsk National University, and currently working as an Associate Academic Coordinator at the Norte University, Asuncion, Paraguay (Хуан Мануель Маркос. Зима Гюнтера [Текст] / Хуан Мануель Маркос. – Київ : Час друку, 2014. – 248 с.). We introduce readers to the author and his novel.

In 1989 the bloodthirsty and vicious fascist dictatorship imposed by Alfredo Stroessner was overcome by a military coup d´état. After 35 years of censorship, torture, exile, political murders, public theft and sale of national interests, a new era of restricted liberties emerged, an era in which you can still find sequels of ignorance, violence, human degradation and official lies. Just like in the past, any current attempt to struggle for the truth, dignity, culture and freedom in Paraguay is still a high-risk adventure.

After relinquishing the security and comforts enjoyed by his social and family position and recklessly facing up to repression, prison, and torture, Juan Manuel Marcos (Asuncion, 1950) was forced to exile in Spain and the United States. In these countries he was able to obtain two doctorates, in Madrid and Pittsburgh, and to work on postdoctoral studies at Yale and Harvard. In addition, he obtained a tenured professorship and the permanent residence in the United States, as well as many academic and literary awards. He created an important academic journal and an annual symposium, published extensively articles, papers and books, and became a renowned international scholar.

As soon as he received the news that a coup d´état had taken place in Paraguay, he gave up his position at the University of California, in Los Angeles, renounced his economic and professional privileges, and returned to Paraguay, where he was elected congressman, senator, and councilor of the Ministry of Education, and founded Norte University (1991), today the biggest and most prestigious private higher-education institution in the country.  

From the beginning till now, Juan Manuel Marcos´s work has been radically dysfunctional in relation to the general corruption climate, the politicians´ conspiratorial cynicism, and the intellectual mediocrity used as a shield to support them.  

There are few cases in the world in which a multifaceted personality has arisen as the main cultural reference in his own country. Juan Manuel Marcos is the most outstanding literary member of the generation of Criterio and the New Paraguayan Cancionero movement which have changed the Paraguayan contemporary poetry and theatre since the 70s. Both national and international criticism has pointed out alike that his novel Gunter´s Winter (1987) has started off the renovation of the Paraguayan narrative, and has caused the coinage of the concept of postboom as a new paradigm of genre at a continental scale. Juan Manuel Marcos´s University has revolutionized the scientific activity in the country with its academic journals, respected publishing house, five international symposia, and conferences delivered by twelve Nobel Prize laureates and other remarkable researchers.  

Juan Manuel Marcos has boosted a vast cultural movement which has caused the revival of the symphonic music, the opera and the ballet in Paraguay. His university comprises three artistic companies made up by 200 professional artists from 22 different countries. To provide for that huge cultural private investment, the largest in the nation’s history, Dr. Marcos has never applied for public funds, not even when he served several years as the powerful chairman of the Senate Education and Culture Committee and Majority Leader. Norte University has educated and helped many of the most honest, qualified, and innovative professionals, entrepreneurs, communicators, and leaders of the last two decades in Paraguay.  

But beyond all this, in his small place of the planet, Juan Manuel Marcos arises today, especially for the youth, as an unstoppable ethical symbol, at the level of the most heroic examples and intellectual testimonies of our times. As Augusto Roa Bastos (winner of Cervantes Prize in 1989, and his compatriot and friend of his), once said about him: “Juan Manuel Marcos´s struggle is the triumph of courage and intelligence over desperation and cynicism”.

Gunter´s Winter describes the journey of a cold and thick-skinned executive of the World Bank, a Paraguayan citizen of German origin, with his wife Eliza, a fairly sensitive Afro-American Hispanist, to the hub of the South American State terrorism, in the time of the Falkland Islands War, in order to save his niece Soledad, a young poetess who is being tortured just because she writes poems. A landmark in the evolution of the Latin American narrative towards the polyphonic or postboom novel, Gunter´s Winter (Year Book Prize of 1987), considered the main Paraguayan novel of the last four decades, selected by a group of experts as one of the most important ten books in the history of Paraguay, and declared to be of national educational interest by the Ministry of Education of the country, has been written ten times for thirteen years.  

Its plot is based upon the dramatic experiences and unexpected events lived through by Juan Manuel Marcos from 1973 to 1987, in the harsh years of the military dictatorship in Paraguay, and upon the different destinations caused by his political exile in Spain and the United States. The novel, which is spiced with some humorous notes focused on the paradoxes of our time, contains both real and fictional settings such as those of Asuncion, Corrientes, Buenos Aires, Mexico, Pittsburgh, New York, Oklahoma, Madrid, Paris and Bucharest. Woven with the most refined techniques of the vanguard narrative art and shaken by a profound lyricism, acclaimed by readers and the international scholarly review, and translated into more than 30 languages, Gunter´s Winter is a chilling tribute to the idealism of the Latin American youth, and a revolutionary aesthetic renovation of the paradigm of the worldwide narrative. 

Juan Manuel Marcos´s literary, social and personal position is very well couched in an interview: "The mission of the writer's double. You both need to create beauty as well as constantly worry about the cultural, social, political and economic life of the improvement of their country”. Such a union of aesthetic and social is, apparently, the brightest feature of Latin American literature in general. Its main genre is tagged magic realism, a concept that is more sensual and metaphorical than rational. This concept is particularly felt in the magical union of the fact that European culture has a common, problematic even conflicting – indestructible alloy that fuses the personal and intimate with the public and collective. In some sort of irrational way, there is love in the most intimate manifestations in terms of love for the homeland, God, and people.

Even in the most extreme form of revolution, war or anarchy, there is a manifestation of a comprehensive, passionately-primitive, natural and genuine love. Therefore, the lack of love in general in Latin American literature is the most terrible sin of man. And Juan Manuel Marcos´s novel, Gunter´s Winter, is a shocking confirmation of this. Breaking the cycle of human alienation, the main issue has to do with the heroes of the novel and its problems. In the story, we encounter issued related to the mythical syncretism, legends, fairy tales of Guarani Indians (indigenous people of Paraguay) and the intricacies of modern life pragmatic, super-tech XXI century. In this sense, the author seeks (and finds) solutions to all problems. The identification of our contemporary characters with the characters of legends of ancient Paraguay is clear. In the novel the reader finds the repeated names of heroes and historical figures. The love for growing geraniums, chess game, rebellions and poetry is repeated in the lives of the characters, as if inherited. The novel displays symbolic images from the Genesis associated with the women´s homeland, freedom, poetry, revolution, flowers, Jaguar, mystery, love, sex, and death. All these symbols are presented like mosaics when it comes to describing life. Likewise, all these images are filled with different colors (from white to deadly emerald green eyes) and other additional elements such as water, trees, cries of love, pain, fear, cold and heat, sun and snow, etc. A mysterious system of unexpected metaphors jumps in time to reflect a kind of implacable hostility and transform reality. On the other hand, only a few techniques are used by the author to cause a great impact on the reader. Apart from the dramatic decision of characters to change their destiny, to start their lives from the scratch, or free themselves from their shackles, they intend to take revenge on other people by killing them if necessary. In some cases, the resurrection of the dead does not seem surprising. Because wintertime (which is associated with the Stroessner dictatorship in Paraguay) is not to be eternal, man does not live in captivity, love conquers death, and the master creates a word that embodies the hope of the beauty of life.

Igor Protsenko (Asunción, Paraguay).

English translation – Jose Antonio Alonso Navarro (Asunción, Paraguay).


Available 5 January 2015.