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Writing Pancho Villa's Revolution

Rebels in the Literary Imagination of Mexico

By Max Parra

Publication Year: 2005

The 1910 Mexican Revolution saw Francisco “Pancho” Villa grow from social bandit to famed revolutionary leader. Although his rise to national prominence was short-lived, he and his followers (the villistas) inspired deep feelings of pride and power amongst the rural poor. After the Revolution (and Villa's ultimate defeat and death), the new ruling elite, resentful of his enormous popularity, marginalized and discounted him and his followers as uncivilized savages. Hence, it was in the realm of culture rather than politics that his true legacy would be debated and shaped. Mexican literature following the Revolution created an enduring image of Villa and his followers. Writing Pancho Villa's Revolution focuses on the novels, chronicles, and testimonials written from 1925 to 1940 that narrated Villa's grassroots insurgency and celebrated—or condemned—his charismatic leadership. By focusing on works by urban writers Mariano Azuela (Los de abajo) and Martín Luis Guzmán (El águila y la serpiente), as well as works closer to the violent tradition of northern Mexican frontier life by Nellie Campobello (Cartucho), Celia Herrera (Villa ante la historia), and Rafael F. Muñoz (¡Vámonos con Pancho Villa!), this book examines the alternative views of the revolution and of the villistas. Max Parra studies how these works articulate different and at times competing views about class and the cultural “otherness” of the rebellious masses. This unique revisionist study of the villista novel also offers a deeper look into the process of how a nation's collective identity is formed.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-11

On March 6, 1913, Francisco Villa and eight followers crossed the border into Mexico from El Paso, Texas, with the aim of overthrowing the dictatorship of Gen. Victoriano Huerta. They had nine rifles and nine horses, “500 cartridges per man, two pounds of coffee, two pounds of sugar, one pound of salt.”1 By the end of that year, Villa’s forces had swelled to...

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Chapter 1. The Politics of Incorporation: The Calles Era, 1925 –1935

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pp. 13-22

The Calles era, the years when Gen. Plutarco El

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Chapter 2. Villa and Popular Political Subjectivity in Mariano Azuela’s Los de abajo

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pp. 23-47

In October 1914, physician and novelist Mariano Azuela joined the troops of Villista general Julián Medina in Guadalajara with the rank of colonel. “I then satisfied one of my greatest longings,” he wrote many years later, “to live together with the genuine revolutionaries, the underdogs, since until then my observations had been limited to the tedious world...

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Chapter 3. Reconstructing Subaltern Perspectives in Nellie Campobello’s Cartucho

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pp. 48-76

Few towns during the revolution saw events as bloody as those that occurred in Hidalgo del Parral, a mining center in the state of Chihuahua that was one of the gravitational centers of Villismo. In the course of ten years, Parral suffered the violence of being taken no fewer than twelve times by contending revolutionary forces.1 Its inhabitants lived...

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Chapter 4. Villismo and Intellectual Authority in Martín Luis Guzmán’s El águila y la serpiente

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pp. 77-97

Martín Luis Guzmán’s Iconografía, a book of photographs published in 1987, reveals a certain attachment to Mexico’s presidents, perhaps like no other intellectual of his generation, or since.1 To be sure, his journalistic work and political career, his literary prestige, and the fact that he lived a long life may reasonably explain the inordinate number of photographs...

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Chapter 5. Soldierly Honor and Mexicanness in Rafael F. Muñoz’s ¡Vámonos con Pancho Villa!

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pp. 98-119

In 1930, the literacy rate in Mexico was 34.4 percent, up from 23.1 percent in 1910.1 The increase was largely due to the expansion of public education and the literacy campaigns launched in 1921 by Jos

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Chapter 6. The Battle for Pancho Villa During Cardenismo, 1935 –1940

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pp. 120-136

The Cardenista period (1935–1940) brought new life into the debate over the uncertain status of revolutionary hero Pancho Villa and his movement in the nation’s memory. The regime’s reorientation in political matters created a space in public discourse for the reevaluation of Villa’s role in the revolution and his historical legacy. It did not overturn the...

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Chapter 7. Villismo’s Legacy

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pp. 137-140

By the end of the Cárdenas presidency, in late 1940, Gen. Francisco Villa had yet to be included in the pantheon of official heroes of the Mexican Revolution, despite the president’s reconciliation and inclusion policy. Villa’s political and military enemies who were active in the revolutionary government, particularly in northern Mexico, apparently obstructed his...


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pp. 141-164


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pp. 165-178


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pp. 179-185

E-ISBN-13: 9780292796201
E-ISBN-10: 029279620X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292706972
Print-ISBN-10: 0292706979

Page Count: 197
Publication Year: 2005

OCLC Number: 632739065
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Writing Pancho Villa's Revolution

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Subject Headings

  • Villa, Pancho, 1878-1923 -- In literature.
  • Mexican prose literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Mexico -- History -- Revolution, 1910-1920 -- Literature and the revolution.
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