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  • "Mátala, Mátala":Notes on Enrique López Albújar's Matalaché
  • Mark David McGraw

Matalache (1928), a short novel by Enrique López Albújar, is set in Piura, Peru, in 1816. The setting of the novel is the La Tina plantation that produces soap and tans animal hides. Tina is Spanish for the large tub or vat in which animal fat is reduced to tallow for soap—hence La Tina, which is owned by Don Juan Francisco. The operation of the plantation is powered by the labor of enslaved Africans, black people who, like their counterparts in the United States, were subjected to continuous moments of horror and unspeakable atrocities.

Don Juan Francisco's daughter Maria Luz—the young, headstrong woman with a sense of justice contrary to the ideology that maintains a plantation—arrives at La Tina from the capital city of Lima. She soon meets José Manuel, a spectacularly handsome mulatto slave who, in addition to being a laborer, serves as a breeding stud for Don Juan Francisco's and neighboring plantations. It is from José Manuel that the book's title is derived. So impressive and well-known is José Manuel's sexual prowess that some of the other slaves sing a ditty about him that goes:

Cógela, cógela, José Manué;mátala, mátala, mátala, ¡che!No te la comas tú solo, pití;deja una alita siquiera pa mí.

Get her, get her, José Manue;kill her, kill her, kill her, hey!Don't eat her all up for yourself;Leave just a little wing for me.

The undeniably misogynistic and rhythmic "Matalaché" is José Manuel's nickname on the plantation.

Maria Luz falls in love with José Manuel and, dressing herself as her slave girl, Rita, visits his room one night for a tryst. The result is a pregnancy which, once revealed to Don Juan Francisco, leads to José Manuel's imprisonment. What happens next is the subject of the novel's final chapter, published in this issue.

Matalache appeals to the reader by appearing to be the account of a scandalous affair between a handsome, enslaved mulatto and a beautiful, young, white woman who shames her aristocratic family. In reality, the enslavement of blacks and the lurid veneer of forbidden [End Page 273] interracial love are stories of the effects of white patriarchy: the obscene ownership and exploitation of other human beings, the domination of a young woman in a strongly patriarchal society, and the effects of the nefarious dependence of a white aristocrat on his own hatred and racism.

Mark David McGraw
Texas A&M University
  • "Mátala, Mátala"Notas sobre Matalaché de Enrique López Albújar
  • Mark David McGraw

Matalaché, una novela escrita en 1928 por el peruano Enrique López Albújar está ambientada en Piura, Perú de 1816. La historia tiene lugar en la hacienda La Tina que produce jabón y pieles curtidas de animales. La operación de la misma, cuyo dueño es Don Juan Francisco, se realiza por medio de la labor de esclavos africanos, lo que implica todos los horrores y atrocidades de esta "peculiar institución" en los Estados Unidos de la época.

María Luz, hija de don Juan Francisco, llega a La Tina desde la capital de Lima como una mujer joven y testaruda con un elevado sentido de justicia que está fuera de lugar en la hacienda. Muy temprano en su estadía allí conoce a José Manuel, un hermosísimo mulato que, además de ser esclavo y capataz, sirve de semental para impregnar a las esclavas de la hacienda de Don Juan Francisco y de las haciendas vecinas. Tan impresionantes y bien sabidas son las proezas sexuales de Jose Manuel que los otros esclavos cantan una cancioncita que dice:

Cógela, cógela, José Manué;mátala, mátala, mátala, ¡che!No te la comas tú solo, piti;deja una alita siquiera pa mí.

Del verso innegablemente misógino y rítmico "Matalaché" resulta el apodo de José Manuel en la hacienda.

Eventualmente, María Luz se enamora de José Manuel y, una noche, vestida como su propia esclava, Rita...


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