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The Twentieth-Century Spanish American Novel

By Raymond Leslie Williams

Publication Year: 2005

Spanish American novels of the Boom period (1962–1967) attracted a world readership to Latin American literature, but Latin American writers had already been engaging in the modernist experiments of their North American and European counterparts since the turn of the twentieth century. Indeed, the desire to be "modern" is a constant preoccupation in twentieth-century Spanish American literature and thus a very useful lens through which to view the century’s novels. In this pathfinding study, Raymond L. Williams offers the first complete analytical and critical overview of the Spanish American novel throughout the entire twentieth century. Using the desire to be modern as his organizing principle, he divides the century’s novels into five periods and discusses the differing forms that "the modern" took in each era. For each period, Williams begins with a broad overview of many novels, literary contexts, and some cultural debates, followed by new readings of both canonical and significant non-canonical novels. A special feature of this book is its emphasis on women writers and other previously ignored and/or marginalized authors, including experimental and gay writers. Williams also clarifies the legacy of the Boom, the Postboom, and the Postmodern as he introduces new writers and new novelistic trends of the 1990s.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xi

In 1966, Octavio Paz wrote that since the nineteenth century, the Latin American writer desired to bemodern: ‘‘Modernity has been our style for a century. It’s the universal style.To want to be modern seems crazy: we are condemned to be modern, since we are prohibited from the past

Part I: The Literary Tradition and Modern Science, 1900–1921

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pp. 1

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One: Novelistic and Cultural Contexts at the Turn of the Century

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pp. 3-18

In Latin America, the early twentieth century really belonged culturally to the nineteenth in many ways, particularly at the immediate turn of the century, when Spanish American modernismowas, among other things, the Spanish-language version of the Parnassian and symbolist...

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Two: Rereading Spanish American Classics

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pp. 19-33

Gamboa, Mariano Azuela, José Rafael Pocaterra, and Manuel Gálvez suggest the major directions for the Spanish American novel during this period, including the modernistas and the positivists. Díaz Rodríguez’s Sangre patricia (1902) was one of the most outstanding examples of modernista fiction;...

Part II: Traditional and Modernist Aesthetics, 1922–1940

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pp. 35

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Three: Novelistic and Cultural Contexts in the 1920s and 1930s

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pp. 37-52

Many of the Latin American writers publishing before the 1920s were so deeply concerned about national culture debates and so intensely engaged in political dialogue that aesthetics were secondary. This was not the case for short story writer Horacio Quiroga or for many of the novelists of this second moment of desiring to bemodern who were...

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Four: Rereading Spanish American Criollista Classics

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pp. 53-68

The traditionalist writers pursued their search for the modern in the form of criollista novels. Canonical works written in the traditional (realist-naturalist) mode in Spanish America were La vor

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Five: Rereading Novels of Vanguardia

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pp. 69-85

The avant-garde fiction writers of the 1920s and 1930s were a cultural minority who nevertheless pursued a modernist aesthetics inspired by the new European and North American modernist trends. For them, this new writing involved a multifaceted cultural activity. Vicente Huidobro, more recognized...

Part III: The Rise of the Modernist Novel, 1941–1961

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pp. 87

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Six: Novelistic and Cultural Contexts of Latin American Modernism

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pp. 89-104

The avant-garde writers of the 1920s and 1930s had laid the groundwork for a modernist novel in Latin America in the 1940s and 1950s. Unfortunately, their work in fiction had little immediate impact on the Spanish American novel, and the more important forerunners for the rise of modernist fiction in Latin America were...

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Seven: Rereading Spanish American Modernist Novels

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pp. 105-122

In addition to the short fiction of Borges, the unequivocal indicator of a cultural shift in Latin America toward modernist writing was the publication in the 1940s of the landmark modernist novels of Miguel Angel Asturias, Agust

Part IV: Modern and Cosmopolitan Works, 1962–1967

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pp. 124

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Eight: Novels and Contexts of the Boom and Beyond

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pp. 125-135

The Boom of Spanish American fiction during the 1960s began with international recognition of the remarkable quality of the fiction written by a select few talented Latin American modernists— Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, and Julio Cortázar...

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Nine: Rereading Novels of the Boom

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pp. 137-147

Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cort

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Ten: Rereading the Spanish American Novel beyond the Boom

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pp. 149-162

The international recognition and commercial success of the Boom tended to obscure the writing of numerous outstanding modernist novelists who published fiction in the 1960s. The Colombians Alvaro Cepeda Samudio, H

Part V: Toward a Postboom, Feminist, and Postmodern Novel, 1968–1999

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pp. 163

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Eleven: Novelistic and Cultural Contexts in the 1970s and 1980s

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pp. 165-191

The 1970s and 1980s were characterized by a flourishing of the most heterogeneous and perhaps the most compelling novelistic production seen in any earlier period of the century. The writers and other marginalized groups, such as writers of gay, lesbian, and testimonial fiction. The novelistic production in this period...

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Twelve: Rereading the Spanish American Novel of the 1970s and 1980s

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pp. 193-203

The desire to bemodern was fully realized in the novel by the 1970s and 1980s in the Spanish-speaking Americas. The resultant fiction of this period—be it of a Postboom, feminist, postmodern, gay, or testimonio character—was internationally recognized, translated more than ever, and patently heterogeneous....

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Thirteen: Modern, Postmodern, and Transnational: The Latin American Novel in the 1990s

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pp. 205-219

The postmodern and transnational interests of the Latin American writer were evident in the 1990s, a period when the Latin American novel was a heterogeneous cultural manifestation of modernist, postmodern, post-postmodern, feminist, and gay fiction. These fives modes overlap in many ways, frequently sharing a commitment to subverting the predominant...


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pp. 221-237


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pp. 239-249

E-ISBN-13: 9780292798670
E-ISBN-10: 0292798679
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292706705
Print-ISBN-10: 0292706707

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2005