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92 Western American Literature She told about catching this fish who was GRINNING under some rocks when she caught it. It was the first fish she ever caught. She grinned all through the telling. The transformation in these lines, like the trickster’s changes of form, gives tribal poetry its alien magic. Norman’s marvelous translations follow with mimetic care and fidelity Cree song and story, commemorating the inter­ change between consciousness and the natural world. JOHN TRIMBUR, Rutgers University, Camden Mexico and the Hispanic Southwest in American Literature. By Cecil Robinson. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1977- 391 pages, $5.45.) Mexico and The Hispanic Southwest in American Literature is a revised edition of With the Ears of Strangers which was published in 1963. The 1977 edition contains a chapter entitled “Chicano Literature” which brings up to date the subject of Mexico and the Hispanic Southwest in American Literature. The theme of the book is stated in its title and pursued in the book from the time Mexico was conquered by Spain in the sixteenth century (1519-1521) to the present. The influence of Mexico, of Mexicans, in American literature, really literature of what is now known as the American Southwest, is traced almost encyclopedically by the author by referring to works which are, probably, unknown to most readers — except by only the most informed specialist. The scope of the book is too vast to be encompassed in a review restricted to a relatively few words. Therefore, comment will be restricted to the starkest observations, to the skeleton, as it were, with the hope that the reader will provide the elaboration, the fleshing out required to do justice to the book’s richness. The first observation about the subject of Mexicans and the Southwest in American literature is that only English-language sources were consulted by the author. Such selection may be excused on the ground that the author was concerned with American literature which by definition is an English language literature. However, the inclusion of available Spanish-language publications concerned with the Southwest might have saved the book from presenting a point of view, unconscious and probably not by design, that the only persons concerned with the theme and thereby the only ones writing about it were the Anglo-Saxon journalists, soldiers, explorers, mountain men, and novelists. One is left with the idea that it was not until well into the Reviews 93 middle of the twentieth century that Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, or Chicanos wrote about Mexico/Mexicans and the Southwest. Such is simply not the case. If we restrict our observations to Mexicans writing about Mexico and the United States/Southwest at the present time, as well as the recent past, we note the absence of such writers as Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz and Samuel Ramos each of whom has interesting observations to make about Mexico and the United States, and the fact that the reader is not informed of them impoverishes him. The second point to be made about Mexico and the Hispanic Southwest . . . is the we/they antagonistic dichotomy cultivated by the majority of Anglos writing about Mexicans and the Southwest. The majority of Anglos writing about Mexicans in the Southwest up until the very recent past insisted upon writing about Mexicans in derogatory, stereotypic terms. Even when the treatment was sympathetic it was almost always patronizing. Indeed, one of the contributions made by Professor Robinson in this book is to let the Anglo authors speak for themselves and reveal just how antagonistic they were to the Mexicans. There are probably reasonable explanations offered for this antagonism as the author himself suggests. Texas was settled by whites from the Southeastern United States who were very much influenced by the slave culture in which they were brought up. The attitudes on race and slavery held in the Southeastern Southern States were brought to Texas and the Southwest by the ante and post bellum whites and applied to the browns (Mexicans) living there. The end result was the we/they antagonistic dichotomy so clearly revealed in most of the literature reviewed by the author. The third observation concerns the writings about Mexicans and the Southwest by themselves...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 92-94
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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