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Early Spanish American Narrative

By Naomi Lindstrom

Publication Year: 2004

The world discovered Latin American literature in the twentieth century, but the roots of this rich literary tradition reach back beyond Columbus’s discovery of the New World. The great pre-Hispanic civilizations composed narrative accounts of the acts of gods and kings. Conquistadors and friars, as well as their Amerindian subjects, recorded the clash of cultures that followed the Spanish conquest. Three hundred years of colonization and the struggle for independence gave rise to a diverse body of literature—including the novel, which flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century. To give everyone interested in contemporary Spanish American fiction a broad understanding of its literary antecedents, this book offers an authoritative survey of four centuries of Spanish American narrative. Naomi Lindstrom begins with Amerindian narratives and moves forward chronologically through the conquest and colonial eras, the wars for independence, and the nineteenth century. She focuses on the trends and movements that characterized the development of prose narrative in Spanish America, with incisive discussions of representative works from each era. Her inclusion of women and Amerindian authors who have been downplayed in other survey works, as well as her overview of recent critical assessments of early Spanish American narratives, makes this book especially useful for college students and professors.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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p. vii


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p. ix

Introduction and Background

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The Framework of This Study

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pp. 1-6

The time span covered here is, fundamentally, from the Spanish arrival in the Americas until 1900. While the primary works examined are from this relatively early period, the research about them that I cite is, in great part, quite recent. One motive for writing this book has been to show how early Spanish American literature has been reread...

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Research into Native American Writing Systems and Narrative

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pp. 7-12

Relatively few specialists are qualified to study in any detail the narratives composed by members of the ancient Amerindian civilizations. A number of indigenous-authored narratives date from after the Spanish conquest and represent the efforts of a culture to preserve its most important information...

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Chapter One. Narrative Accounts of the Encounter and Conquest

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pp. 13-46

The accounts that Spanish conquistadors, clergy, and Amerindians composed to tell of the early years of the conquest, known as cr

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Chapter Two. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: Literary Life in the Colonies

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pp. 47-77

It was in the seventeenth century that Spain’s New World cities clearly emerged as centers of literary life, and narrative prose was cultivated with artistry by writers based in the Spanish American colonies. Before looking at the relatively settled seventeenth and eighteenth centuries...

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Chapter Three. The Struggle for Nationhood and the Rise of Fiction

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pp. 78-108

While the eighteenth century provides relatively few outstanding narrative works, the nineteenth offers an abundance. It was during the first half of this century that the novel and the short story emerged in Spanish America. Fictional narrative was beginning to win a place as a serious form of expression...

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Chapter Four. The Mid-Nineteenth Century: Romanticism, Realism, and Nationalism

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pp. 109-143

By the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the novel was well established as a form of both art and social commentary. Romanticism continued to exercise a powerful hold on writers as well as the reading public, although it was usually a heterogeneous type of romanticism. It is characteristic of Spanish American narrative, and of Spanish American literature...

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Chapter Five. Late-Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Social Commentary and National Self-Reflection

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pp. 144-176

As the nineteenth century moved into its latter decades, literary life continued to grow more organized in Spanish American capitals. Increasingly, the writers of a given nation established journals, salons, and literary circles, to learn from one another and to promote the idea that they were carrying out serious work. Writers of fiction were eager to win greater respect...

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Chapter Six. Naturalism and Modernismo

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pp. 177-202

During the last years of the nineteenth century, literary life changed at a swifter pace. Writers initiated literary innovations and took up new influences more rapidly than in the early years of the century. With faster communications and travel, trends moved swiftly between regions and nations. This chapter looks at two tendencies that began in the 1880s...

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Conclusion: Then and Now

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pp. 203-206

This survey comes to an end in 1900, although many of the tendencies characterized in the sections on the late nineteenth century are still going full force as the nineteenth century ends. In conclusion, I would like to consider briefly the relations between, on the one hand, early Spanish American narrative and, on the other, scholarship, creative writing...


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pp. 207-228

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 229-232


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pp. 233-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780292797451
E-ISBN-10: 0292797451
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292747203
Print-ISBN-10: 0292747209

Page Count: 247
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 560333508
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Early Spanish American Narrative

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Spanish American fiction -- History and criticism.
  • National characteristics, Latin American, in literature.
  • Literature and history -- Latin America.
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