Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Zorro

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Zorro

A Novel

by Isabel Allende

Zorro by Isabel Allende
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 390 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 416 pages

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Allende was approached by John Gertz, who owns the rights to Zorro, to write a literary book about the famous character.  Gertz's father had bought the rights to Zorro from McCulley in 1920 and, in conjunction with Disney, had developed Zorro into a TV series, comic book and feature film.  When Gertz Jr bought the rights back it occurred to him that Zorro had never been portrayed in a 'serious' work of literature, so he started searching for a writer to hire - someone who knew California well, could think in Spanish and had a track record in historical research. 

Initially Allende brushed him off but rather than take no for an answer Gertz left her with a boxful of artefacts - tapes of old movies, comics etc, and so Allende says, "I fell in love again with Zorro .... because I had been in love with him when I was a child. He's the father of Batman and Superman. He's the father of all the action heroes with the double personality. Most of those guys have magic tricks. Zorro has only his own skills."   She goes on to say, "I had so much fun writing this. There was no stress involved. My agent was horrified. Everybody was. Why would I do this? For the same reason I would wear the mask and the costume and take fencing classes ..... Sometimes people interview me about Zorro with this intensity, this seriousness, and I say, look, we're talking about Zorro, not Che Guevara. Calm down!"

For more about Allende, visit her very comprehensive website.

This article was originally published in June 2005, and has been updated for the May 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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