He published only one novel , La feria ; The Fair. His collection of stories Confabulario has been reprinted in several expanded editions and was translated into English as Confabulario and Other Inventions. One of 14 children, Arreola had to leave school at age eight. He tried his hand at several professions, including journalism, teaching, and editing. When he returned to Mexico City , he took an editorial position with a respected firm. He was obsessively drawn to the absurd and enjoyed satirizing modern technology and its monstrous by-products.

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Return to Book Page. Jill Hartley Illustrator. The switchman tells how in some places the train tracks are nothing more than chalk lines and how elsewhere no bridge exists so that passengers must take the train apart and carry the pieces to be reassembled down the line. The passenger eventually becomes so confused that he forgets where he intended to go, at which point the switchman and his toy lantern disappear into the distance.

Whether it is interpreted as an allegory of the pitfalls of the Mexican train system or as an existential horror story of life's absurdities and human limitation, readers will enjoy this classic tale of Mexican magical realism. Get A Copy. Paperback , 48 pages. More Details Other Editions 1.

Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about El guardagujas , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. Sort order. Start your review of El guardagujas. A cute story that's enjoyable solely for its amusement factor, let alone its allegorical levels.

Man needs to take the train, but encounters a switchman - a retired one at that - that tells him the incredible things about the railways. For instance, that many of them don't exist. It's all so odd and bewildering, but it does make sense to relate it to society itself - as far as I've been able to read, anyway.

Worth the read and probably worth a deeper study. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers also enjoyed. Short Stories. Barrault y Pierre Renoir. Related Articles. Diverse voices and sparkling debuts dominate today's contemporary short story collections. For this roundup, we took a look at the Read more Trivia About El guardagujas. No trivia or quizzes yet. Quotes from El guardagujas. Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.


Juan José Arreola

His best-known and most anthologized tale, "The Switchman" exemplifies his taste for humor, satire, fantasy, and philosophical themes. The story, first published as "El guardagujas" in Cinco Cuentos in , is translated in Confabulario and Other Inventions Briefly summarized, "The Switchman" portrays a stranger burdened with a heavy suitcase who arrives at a deserted station at the exact time his train is supposed to leave. As he gazes at the tracks that seem to melt away in the distance, an old man the switchman carrying a tiny red lantern appears from out of nowhere and proceeds to inform the stranger of the hazards of train travel in this country. It seems that, although an elaborate network of railroads has been planned and partially completed, the service is highly unreliable. The horrified stranger, who keeps insisting that he must arrive at destination T the next day, is therefore advised to rent a room in a nearby inn, an ash-colored building resembling a jail where would-be travelers are lodged. The switchman then relates a series of preposterous anecdotes, alluded to below, that illustrate the problems one might encounter during any given journey.


The Switchman (El Guardagujas) by Juan José Arreola, 1951

The short story was originally published as a confabulario , a word created in Spanish by Arreola, in , in the collection Confabulario and Other Inventions. It was republished ten years later along with other published works by Arreola at that time in the collection El Confabulario total. A stranger carrying a large suitcase runs towards a train station, and manages to arrive exactly at the time that his train bound for a town identified only as T. As the man speculates about where his train might be, he feels a touch on his shoulder and turns to see a small old man dressed like a railroader and carrying a lantern. When he asks if the train has left, the old man wonders if the traveler has been in the country very long and advises him to find lodging at the local inn for at least a month. The stranger is very confused; he has no plans to stay. The "switchman" tells the stranger that the country is famous for its railroad system; though many timetables and tickets have been produced, the trains do not follow them well.


El guardagujas


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