Carlos Fuentes

Literary Critique - Aura

Carlos Fuentes
Photo Credit: Abderrahman Bouirabdane
(Wikimedia Commons)

Altered Consciousness and Supernatural Phenomena

Published in 1962, during a decade obsessed with youth, “Aura” by Carlos Fuentes is a psychological thriller with occult undertones. Felipe Montero, a historian, responds to a newspaper ad for a job. An elderly matriarch hires him to write the memoirs of her deceased husband. Felipe is required to live with her during the course of the project.

Aura is the matriarch’s niece, a beautiful, young caregiver. Felipe falls in love with her and engages in a romantic relationship. Then threatening visions intermingle with bizarre behavior. The strange affair progresses, and Felipe notices similarities between Aura and the old woman as this spine-tingling tale spirals into madness.

Fuentes writes, “…a ray of moonlight shines in and surprises you, shines in through a chink in the wall that the rats have chewed open, an eye that lets in a beam of silvery moonlight. It falls on Aura’s eroded face, as brittle and yellowed as the memoirs, as creased with wrinkles as the photographs… You love her, you too have come back…”

The creepy, second-person viewpoint lends a Gothic tone. This supernatural story addresses the common fear of getting old.

In Fuentes’ plot, it is the paranormal presence of a ghost brought to life through time-altering immersion in a woman’s memories that acts as the catalyst. A cross between literary drama and commercial horror, “Aura” remains a fantasy subject to interpretation.