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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.
From the rainforests of Costa Rica and the Amazon to the windswept lands of Tierra del Fuego, Laura Barbas-Rhoden discusses the natural settings within contemporary Latin American novels as they depict key moments of environmental change or crisis in the region from the nineteenth-century imperialism to the present.
By integrating the use of futuristic novels, Barbas-Rhoden pushes the ecocriticism discussion beyond the realm of "nature writing." She avoids the clichés of literary nature and reminds readers that today’s urban centers are also part of Latin America and its environmental crisis.
One of the first writers to apply ecocriticism to Latin American fiction, Barbas-Rhoden argues that literature can offer readers a deeper understanding of the natural world and humanity’s place in it. She demonstrates that ecocritical readings of Latin American topics must take into account social, racial, and gender injustices. She also addresses postapocalyptic science fiction that speaks to a fear of environmental collapse and reminds North American readers that the environments of Latin America are rich and diverse, encompassing both rural and urban extremes.
The Enlightenment in the Modern Caribbean Historical Imagination
Kant's definition of the Enlightenment as an emergence of humanity from its self-incurred immaturity begs a number of questions, argues Paul Miller, when seen through the lens of the modern Caribbean historical imagination. It yields a set of structural paradoxes that trap the Caribbean writer in the binary tensions of center/periphery, master/slave, leaders/masses, rendering the origins of the Caribbean's own modernity "elusive."
The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum
In a strikingly interdisciplinary and multilingual analysis of Caribbean postmodern historical novels about slavery alongside museum exhibitions about slavery throughout the Caribbean and the US, Vivian Halloran shows how the novels as well as the exhibits seek to educate their audiences about reconstructing the past from fragmented evidence and relating historical memory and collective mourning in the creation of narratives about that past. The literary and museum portrayals work together in confronting the trauma of slavery in much the same way as Holocaust memorials, fiction, and film confront the trauma of genocide.
Puerto Rican Women Authors on the Island and the Mainland
Adopting a comparative and multidisciplinary approach to Puerto Rican literature, Marisel Moreno juxtaposes narratives by insular and U.S. Puerto Rican women authors in order to examine their convergences and divergences. By showing how these writers use the trope of family to question the tenets of racial and social harmony, an idealized past, and patriarchal authority that sustain the foundational myth of la gran familia, she argues that this metaphor constitutes an overlooked literary contact zone between narratives from both sides. Moreno proposes the recognition of a "transinsular" corpus to reflect the increasingly transnational character of the Puerto Rican population and addresses the need to broaden the literary canon in order to include the diaspora. Drawing on the fields of historiography, cultural studies, and gender studies, the author defies the tendency to examine these literary bodies independently of one another and therefore aims to present a more nuanced and holistic vision of this literature.
The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature, 1880–2010
The first comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of the prostitute in Latin American literature, Claire Thora Solomon’s book The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature, 1880–2010 shows the gender, ethnic, and racial identities that emerge in the literary figure of the prostitute during the consolidation of modern Latin American states in the late nineteenth century in the literary genre of Naturalism. Solomon first examines how legal, medical, and philosophical thought converged in Naturalist literature of prostitution. She then traces the persistence of these styles, themes, and stereotypes about women, sex, ethnicity, and race in the twentieth and twenty-first century literature with a particular emphasis on the historical fiction of prostitution and its selective reconstruction of the past. Fictions of the Bad Life illustrates how at very different moments—the turn of the twentieth century, the 1920s–30s, and finally the turn of the twenty-first century—the past is rewritten to accommodate contemporary desires for historical belonging and national identity, even as these efforts inevitably re-inscribe the repressed colonial history they wish to change.
The Mexican Novel, 1968, and the National-Popular State
The Mexican government's brutal repression of the Student Movement of 1968 in the infamous Massacre of Tlatelolco exposed and exacerbated a serious crisis of political legitimacy. This study examines the cultural impact of this watershed event through historically contextualized readings of five paradigmatic novels: Carlos Fuentes's La region mas transparente (1958), Fernando del Paso's Jose Trigo (1966), Maria Luisa Mendoza's Con el, conmigo, con nosotros tres (1971), Jorge Aguilar Mora's Si muero lejos de ti (1979), and Hector Aguilar Camin's Morir en el golfo (1986).
Ethics, Poetics, and Politics
In 2007 the French newspaper Le Monde published a manifesto titled “Toward a ‘World Literature’ in French,” signed by forty-four writers, many from France’s former colonies. Proclaiming that the francophone label encompassed people who had little in common besides the fact that they all spoke French, the manifesto’s proponents, the so-called francophone writers themselves, sought to energize a battle cry against the discriminatory effects and prescriptive claims of francophonie.
In one of the first books to study the movement away from the term “francophone” to “world literature in French,” Thérèse Migraine-George engages a literary analysis of contemporary works in exploring the tensions and theoretical debates surrounding world literature in French. She focuses on works by a diverse group of contemporary French-speaking writers who straddle continents—Nina Bouraoui, Hélène Cixous, Maryse Condé, Marie NDiaye, Tierno Monénembo, and Lyonel Trouillot. What these writers have in common beyond their use of French is their resistance to the centralizing power of a language, their rejection of exclusive definitions, and their claim for creative autonomy.