- Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Vicente Blasco Ibáñez
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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by Vicente Blasco Ibañez and translated into English by Charlotte Brewster Jordan, depicts two branches of a family with its roots in the pampas of Argentina. The wealthy Argentinian, Julio Madariaga, comes from Spain and raises himself from poverty, becoming a self-made, wealthy cattleman. He is a man of extremes; an honest man with a rascally knack for taking advantage of others; a self-made man with overweening pride, prejudices, and a sharp, flinty temper that can spark into violence, he is at the same time given to great generosity toward those who are under him. This almost feudal lord has two daughters who marry expatriates, a Frenchman and a German.
Julio Madariaga leaves his stamp on these two families who, after his death, return to the native countries of his two sons in law. At that time, the mood of Europe is in many ways similar to that of the old gaucho, a mixture of generosity, explosive anger, romanticism, strong prejudices, and wounded pride, a mood composed of extremes painted on an oversized canvas. World War I is waiting in the wings and will leave its own stamp on the old gaucho's lineage, pitting them against each other on opposite sides in the violent first year that many think will last only a few months but will, in fact, result in improbable destruction and loss of lives. An old Russian visionary given to drink, looks out on red skies one day and experiences its coming in a vision: hoofbeats; and riders. --Summary by Tony Oliva and released to public domain.