Spanish Practice for our Advanced Spanish Students

Enlarge and deepen your knowledge about the Spanish Language. Read a narrative and poetic masterpiece of one of Costa Ricas most well known authors Carlos Salazar Herrera.

Are you an advanced Spanish student and looking for a challenge to practice your Spanish? Why not try reading some national work such as the stories of the famous Costa Rican writer Carlos Salazar Herrera. His “Cuentos de Angustias y Paisajes” are particularly suitable for those who want to learn more about Costa Rican literature, the origins of the language and former lifestyles.

A little introduction to the work of Carlos Salazar Herrera:

He was born in San José, Costa Rica in 1906 and died in 1980. Salazar was a writer, sculptor, draftsman, printmaker and journalist.

From the early 1900's Costa Rican literature can be classiefied as realistic. Works from this period reflected the almost grim lifestyle in Costa Rica and how the population was insistent on seeking change.

The work of Carlos Salazar Herrera is considered within realism. It reflects landscapes, societies, and languages ​​of different regions of Costa Rica. In them, there is the realization that produces literary figures such as metaphor, with impressionistic background. Emotions appear as precipitated entities.  In his literary expressions, we can see the representation of what Costa Rica is about: Man, event, and landscape. At the same time, it accomplishes to infuse the universality expressed through sensitivity.

The realistic features of Salazar’s tales are reflected with the peasants’ dialogues. He avoids the crush of regional terms and phonetic exaggeration. The feeling and soul in speech of Costa Rican peasant village is reflected a lot. However, in his dialogues, he accurately reproduces phonetics and syntax of the peasant people of Costa Rica. An example of this is found in La Calera:

“- Bueno Eliseo, ¿Qué vamos`hacer? Voyir haciendo viaje, pues.”

Tales are small scenes that come together in a daily reality in Costa Rica. The issues raised are insignificant, but they are presented artistically and with certain indifference. His aim was to show the contingency of human beings and their pain. The everyday situations which moves the hearts with its unique smallness, is the argument of most of Herrera Salazar’s tales.

The author always demonstrates a special endeavor to destroy, with irony, the mystery of the supernatural, as he does so in The Witch and A Night.

The narrator is a witness to the story that the character refers to him in his own circumstances. It is a way to introduce in the scene, with a friendly gesture, men and landscapes, through fiction from what is really lived.

Spanish Practice with famous Costa Rican authorsWhen analyzing the prose used by the author for the narrator, it is discovered that his poetic work is singularizing. He reproduced what was seen with an artistic perception. He talks with surprises, with symbols, and mixing the soul with the landscape. It is considered that Salazar's work is both poetic and narrative.

Herrera Salazar's characters are passive and weak. They are easily impressed by the outside world. They embody the combination that forms the title of the book (anguishes, which is a negative part of human beings, and landscapes, which define the fate of the characters). Two valid examples for the defeat of man to nature (landscape decides the fate of the characters) are given in The Road and The Storm. These characters surrender to their environment, and give themselvesaway resigned to the indifference of the landscape, which are features of Impressionism.

Although in most tales a negative pattern predominates, The Bridge (El Puente), The Window (La Ventana), and The Bull (El Novillo) should be taken into account as stories with a positive ending (although there is anxiety as part of the background). Herrera Salazar tales are dominated, as the title says, by anguish.

If you are looking for a Costa Rican narrative and poetic masterpiece, try to read “Cuentos de Angustias y Paisajes”! You will not only practice your Spanish but also deepen your undestanding of Costa Rican culture!

If you want to learn more about Salazar and other Costa Rican authors, stop by at Ericka´s office in our school in Heredia or drop her a message at