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Love and Politics in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel

By Aníbal González

Publication Year: 2010

The Latin American Literary Boom was marked by complex novels steeped in magical realism and questions of nationalism, often with themes of surreal violence. In recent years, however, those revolutionary projects of the sixties and seventies have given way to quite a different narrative vision and ideology. Dubbed the new sentimentalism, this trend is now keenly elucidated in Love and Politics in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel. Offering a rich account of the rise of this new mode, as well as its political and cultural implications, Aníbal González delivers a close reading of novels by Miguel Barnet, Elena Poniatowska, Isabel Allende, Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Gabriel García Márquez, Antonio Skármeta, Luis Rafael Sánchez, and others. González proposes that new sentimental novels are inspired principally by a desire to heal the division, rancor, and fear produced by decades of social and political upheaval. Valuing pop culture above the avant-garde, such works also tend to celebrate agape—the love of one’s neighbor—while denouncing the negative effects of passion (eros). Illuminating these and other aspects of post-Boom prose, Love and Politics in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel takes a fresh look at contemporary works.

Published by: University of Texas Press

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-ix

In his celebrated essay “Our America” (1891), after analyzing the social and political conflicts that bedeviled the Spanish American nations after their independence, José Martí offered a hopeful vision of the continent’s situation: “They tried hatred, and every year the countries were worse off. Tired of the useless hatred of book against lance, of reason against the...

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Introduction. From Testimonial Narrative to the New Sentimental Novel: Barnet and Poniatowska

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pp. 1-39

In the first pages of Miguel Barnet’s Biografía de un cimarrón (Biography of a Runaway Slave, 1966), Esteban Montejo, the protagonist, narrator, and co-author, recalls how he never met his parents because he had been separated from them after his birth, and when he had the chance he was already a runaway and would not risk his precarious freedom in the...

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1. Patriotic Passion: Isabel Allende's Of Love and Shadows

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pp. 40-61

The search for communion through writing has been a constant element in the narrative career of Isabel Allende, whose books hold an ambiguous place in the canon of Spanish American literature. This is due to the fact that, even as they evoke certain aspects of the Boom, they also tend toward a “lighter” and more easily consumed kind of writing. In this...

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2. Love or Friendship?: Tarzan's Tonsillitis by Alfredo Bryce Echenique

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pp. 62-79

A true original among the Post-Boom authors, the Peruvian Alfredo Bryce Echenique must be regarded as the founding figure of the new sentimental narrative in Spanish America. The novels by Barnet, Poniatowska, and Allende discussed so far, although significant, are by and large individual experiments in the creation of a new sentimental discourse. In...

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3. Journey Back to the Source of Love: Garc

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pp. 80-101

The rise of testimonial and sentimental narratives, along with the sociopolitical circumstances mentioned in the introduction, soon affected the production of some of the most celebrated authors of the Latin American narrative Boom. Thus, starting in the late 1970s, major Boom authors such as Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Gabriel Garc

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4. Recipes for Romance: Laura Esquivel, Luis Sep

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pp. 102-125

The notion that love is a founding myth of narrative fiction and has even become a formula that serves as a framework for a vast category of fictions is implicit not only in García Márquez’s Of Love and Other Demons but also in the novels by Barnet, Poniatowska, Allende, and Bryce we have already analyzed and in practically all of the new sentimental...

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5. The Importance of Being Sentimental: Antonio Sk

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pp. 126-146

A dilemma faced by the authors of the new sentimental novel in Spanish America in their attempt to forge a new relationship with their readers was the seemingly trivial nature of this type of fiction, its relative unimportance when compared to the great political and social questions that polarized the Latin American continent and the world as a whole. Until recently...

Appendix: Some Spanish American Novels with Amorous or Sentimental Themes (1969–2003)

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pp. 147-148


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pp. 149-162

Bibliography of Works Cited

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pp. 163-171


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pp. 173-177

E-ISBN-13: 9780292793033
E-ISBN-10: 0292793030
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292721319
Print-ISBN-10: 0292721315

Page Count: 189
Publication Year: 2010