David E. Johnson receive his Ph.D. in English from SUNY at Buffalo in June 1991. He has essays published or forthcoming on Juan García Ponce, Octavio Paz, Chicano narrative, Hernán Cortés's Cartas de relación and Roland Joffé's The Mission, and the new historicism.
1. Juan García Ponce (Mérida, 1932) is one of Mexico's most prolific writers, having published at least thirty books. His writing encompasses the following genres: drama, art criticism, literary-philosophical essays, short story, novel. He has also translated William Styron, Pierre Klossowski, and Robert Musil into Spanish. To date only a handful of his essays and short stories have been translated; recently Eridanos Press issued a collection of four novellas under the title Encounters. His publications include La imagen primera (1963), Figura de paja (1964), La casa en la playa (1966), La vida perdurable (1970), El Libro (1971), La invitación (1972), Trazos (1974), La errancia sin fin (1981), Las huellas de la voz and Crónica de la intervención (1982), De ánima (1984), and his most recent work, Immaculada o los placeres de la inocencia (1990).
4. As early as 1971, Paz noted the limitations of the notions of underdevelopment and third world. At a round-table discussion held at Harvard, Paz remarked, "México es un país subdesarrollado y dependiente del imperialismo norteamericano. O sea, un país del tercer mundo. Esta definición no es falsa pero es simplista y primaria. Desarrollo y subdesarrollo [s]on conceptos exclusivamente socio-económicos con los que se pretende medir a las sociedades como si fuesen realidades cuantitativas. Así, no se toman en cuenta todos esos aspectos rebeldes a la estadística y que son los que dan fisonomía a una sociedad: su cultura, su historia, su sensibilidad, su arte, sus mitos, su cocina, todo eso que antes se llamaba al alma o el genio de los pueblos, su manera propia de ser. Además, el concepto de desarrollo afirma implícitamente que sólo hay un modelo de desarrollo: el de Occidente tal como lo ejemplifican las sociedades industriales contemporáneas" (quoted from El ogro filantrópico [México, D. F.: Mortiz, 1978], 126).
5. It is interesting that the current spokespersons for the Latin American third world have tended to be novelists. Interesting and paradoxical, for as Timothy Brennan has pointed out, the novel has been anything but a truly national genre: "For under conditions of illiteracy and shortages, and given simply the leisure-time necessary for reading one, the novel has been an elitist and minority form in developing countries when compared to poem, song, television, and film. Almost inevitably it has been the form through which a thin, foreign-educated stratum (however sensitive or committed to domestic political interests) has communicated to metropolitan reading publics, often in translation. It has been, in short, a naturally cosmopolitan form that empire has allowed to play a national role, as it were, only in an international arena" ("The National Longing for Form" in Nation and Narration, edited by Homi K. Bhabha [London: Routledge, 1990]: 44-70; here page 56).
6. The case of Fuentes is especially difficult to determine; Enrique Krauze, for one, has argued that Fuentes is a mere dandy, a North American in Mexican dress. See Enrique Krauze, "La Comedia Mexicana de Carlos Fuentes," Vuelta 138 (June 1988): 15-27.
7. I might also add that the work of reinscribing the European language was announced as necessary by Paz as early as 1950 in El laberinto de la soledad. See, in the 1959 edition, the chapter entitled "La 'inteligencia' mexicana," 147ff.