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Cosmopolitan Desires

Global Modernity and World Literature in Latin America

Mariano Siskind

Publication Year: 2014

Mariano Siskind’s groundbreaking debut book redefines the scope of world literature, particularly regarding the place of Latin America in its imaginaries and mappings. In Siskind’s formulation, world literature is a modernizing discursive strategy, a way in which cultures negotiate their aspirations to participate in global networks of cultural exchange, and an original tool to reorganize literary history. Working with novels, poems, essays, travel narratives, and historical documents, Siskind reads the way Latin American literary modernity was produced as a global relation, from the rise of planetary novels in the 1870s and the cosmopolitan imaginaries of modernism at the turn of the twentieth century, to the global spread of magical realism. With its unusual breadth of reference and firm but unobtrusive grounding in philosophy, literary theory, and psychoanalysis, Cosmopolitan Desires will have a major impact in the fields of Latin American studies and comparative literature.

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-2

I wrote this book between 2007 and 2012, and during those five eventful years I incurred many debts of gratitude. Sylvia Molloy is my favorite cosmopolitan intellectual. Learning from her at New York University was a privilege that has shaped my work profoundly, and I continue to consider myself her student. I am deeply grateful to Diana...

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pp. 3-22

In Latin America (as in other global peripheries), critical and aesthetic cosmopolitan discourses shared a common epistemological structure that I call deseo de mundo, desire for the world. Cosmopolitan intellectuals invoked the world alternately as a signifier of abstract universality or a concrete and finite set of global trajectories traveled by writers and...

Part I: World Literature as a Global Relation, or The Material Production of Literary Worlds

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1. The Globalization of the Novel and the Novelization of the Global

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pp. 25-58

In “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose” (1784), Immanuel Kant lays out the historiographic parameters for a reconceptualization of human history that takes as its end the actualization of freedom in a cosmopolitan political formation that he imagines as a...

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2. The Global Life of Genres and the Material Travelsof Magical Realism

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pp. 59-100

Magical realism occupies a paradoxical space at the center of the relation between Latin America and the discourse of world literature. On the one hand, it has been portrayed (and still is today, after its aesthetic and cultural power has been manifestly exhausted) as the most local, most particular aesthetic form: that is, the aesthetic form that...

Part II: Marginal Cosmopolitanism, Modernismo, and the Desire for the World

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3. The Rise of Latin American World Literary Discourses (1882–1925)

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pp. 103-183

How did Latin American writers represent their historical task at the turn of the century? Sylvia Molloy explains that it involved a rhetoric of foundations: “Darío, como otros contemporáneos, opera a partir de un vacío cultural. . . . Darío y sus pares [tienen] la sensación de un vacío que pide ser colmado. Este vacío y esta necesidad de...

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4. Darío’s French Universal and the World Mappings of Modernismo

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pp. 184-222

Following the 1888 publication of Azul (Azure) in Santiago de Chile— where he had been living and publishing since 1885—many modernistas considered Rubén Darío their guide to navigating the waters of aesthetic modernization. For most critics his name has become the signifier of modernismo. Because of their metonymic function for Latin...

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5. Gómez Carrillo Eastbound: Travel, Orientalism, and the Jewish Question

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pp. 223-260

Enrique Gómez Carrillo asked his friend and mentor Rubén Darío to write the prologue to his first travel narrative, De Marsella a Tokio: Sensaciones de Egipto, la India, la China y el Japón (From Marseille to Tokyo: Sensations of Egypt, India, China, and Japan) (1906), which gathered the crónicas published the previous year in La Nación and El Liberal, the Buenos Aires and Madrid newspapers that funded most ...


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pp. 261-316

Works Cited

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pp. 317-342


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pp. 343-357

E-ISBN-13: 9780810167780
E-ISBN-10: 0810167786
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810129900
Print-ISBN-10: 0810129906

Page Count: 369
Illustrations: 328
Publication Year: 2014

Edition: 1