Philosopher, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, Revueltas was a contemporary of Octavio Paz, who considered him to be the best novelist of his generation. Marxist since his youth, he was educated in the streets, in campesino and workers’ organizations, during strikes, and in prison. EARTHLY DAYS (1949) is his most accomplished and controversial novel.
Like Joyce, Revueltas allows the reader to view the inner depths of his characters; like Proust, he meticulously examines memories, thoughts, and feelings; like Dostoyevsky, he focuses his gaze on the darkest passages of the soul; like Sartre, he dwells on the nausea of existence; and like Simone de Beauvoir, he reflects on the possibility of a new woman, leftist and liberated.
Revueltas preceded writers of the Latin American boom such as Cortázar, García Márquez, and even Juan Rulfo, authors who achieved the reputation and fame that Revueltas was denied. If one may have differences with his style or ideology, the structure of the book is impeccable. Each chapter is a perfect story, woven together by an Ariadne-like thread that unites all parts. To conceptually define the book, I would have to coin the oxymoronic term “existentialist Marxism,” because Revueltas never ceased to be a disciple of Marx; nevertheless, his vision of humanity is brutally negative and ferocious. In a world bereft of God, all that was left for him to describe was our earthly days, “atrocious human life.”