The Death of Artemio Cruz

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The Death of Artemio Cruz
La muerte de Artemio Cruz.jpg
Cover of first edition
Author Carlos Fuentes
Original title La muerte de Artemio Cruz
Translator Sam Hileman, Alfred MacAdam
Country Mexico
Language Spanish
Set in Mexico, 1889–1960
Publisher Fondo de Cultura Económica
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print
Pages 316
OCLC 221360824

The Death of Artemio Cruz (Spanish: La muerte de Artemio Cruz, pronounced [aɾˈtemjo ˈkɾus]) is a novel written in 1962 by Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes. It is considered to be a milestone in the Latin American Boom.

Plot summary[edit]

Artemio Cruz, a corrupt soldier, politician, journalist, tycoon, and lover, lies on his deathbed, recalling the shaping events of his life, from the Mexican Revolution through the development of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. His family crowds around, pressing him to reveal the location of his will; a priest provides extreme unction, angling for a deathbed confession and reconciliation with the Church (while Artemio indulges in obscene thoughts about the birth of Jesus); his private secretary has come with audiotapes of various corrupt dealings, many with gringo diplomats and speculators. Punctuating the sordid record of betrayal is Cruz's awareness of his failing body and his keen attachment to sensual life. Finally his thoughts decay into a drawn-out death.

Themes and significance[edit]

The Death of Artemio Cruz is today "widely regarded as a seminal work of modern Spanish American literature".[1] Like many of his works, the novel used rotating narrators, a technique critic Karen Hardy described as demonstrating "the complexities of a human or national personality".[2] The novel is heavily influenced by Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, and attempts literary parallels to Welles' techniques, including close-up, cross-cutting, deep focus, and flashback.[1] Like Kane, the novel begins with the titular protagonist on his deathbed; the story of Cruz's life is then filled in by flashbacks as the novel moves between past and present. Cruz is a former soldier of the Mexican Revolution who has become wealthy and powerful through "violence, blackmail, bribery, and brutal exploitation of the workers".[3] The novel explores the corrupting effects of power and criticizes the distortion of the revolutionaries' original aims through "class domination, Americanization, financial corruption, and failure of land reform".[4]

The Death of Artemio Cruz is dedicated to sociologist C. Wright Mills, who Fuentes called "the true voice of North America and great friend in the struggle for the people in Latin America."[citation needed]

Film rights[edit]

In 2012, Chatrone LLC optioned both film and television rights to the novel.[5]



  1. ^ a b Howard Fraser; Daniel Altamiranda & Susana Perea-Fox (January 2012). "Carlos Fuentes". Critical Survey of Long Fiction. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ Marcela Valdes (May 16, 2012). "Carlos Fuentes, Mexican novelist, dies at 83". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Death of Artemio Cruz". Masterplots. November 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ Genevieve Slomski & Thomas L. Erskine (January 2009). "The Death of Artemio Cruz". Magill's Survey of World Literature. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ Fleming, Mike (2012-06-15). "Mexican Novel 'Death Of Artemio Cruz' Set For Film". Retrieved 2013-04-14.