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Literature > Latin American and Caribbean Literature

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From Francophonie to World Literature in French

Ethics, Poetics, and Politics

Thérèse Migraine-George

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.

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From Sugar to Revolution

Women’s Visions of Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic

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García Márquez

The Man and His Work

Gene H. Bell-Villada

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the most influential writers of our time. His unique literary creativity is rooted in the history of the region, with all its social and political implications.

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Gender, Discourse, and Desire in Twentieth-Century Brazilian Women's Literature

by Cristina Ferreira-Pinto

This study by Cristina Ferreira-Pinto explores the poetic and narrative strategies twentieth-century Brazilian women writers use to achieve new forms of representation of the female body, sexuality, and desire. Female writers discussed include: Gilka Machado, Lygia Fagundes Telles, Marcia Denser, and Marina Colasanti. While creating new forms, these writers are also deconstructing cultural myths of femininity and female behavior. In order to understand these myths, the book also presents new readings of some male-authored canonical novels by Jose de Alencar, Machado de Assis, Manuel Antonio de Almeida, and Aluisio Azevedo.

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Gunshots at the Fiesta

Literature and Politics in Latin America

Maarten van Delden and Yvon Grenier

The product of a unique collaboration between a literary critic (Van Delden) and a political scientist (Grenier), this book looks at the relationship between literature and politics in Latin America, a region where these two domains exist in closer proximity than perhaps anywhere else in the Western world. The apparently seamless blending of literature and politics is reflected in the explicitly political content of much of the continent's writing, as well as in the highly visible political roles played by many Latin American intellectuals.



Yet the authors of this book argue that the relationship between the two realms is much more complex and fraught with tension than is nowadays recognized. In examining these tensions, and in revealing the diverse ways in which literature and politics intersect in the Latin American cultural tradition, Gunshots at the Fiesta offers a lively challenge to the current tendency--especially strong in the U.S. academy--to read Latin American literature through a narrowly political prism.



The authors argue that one can only understand the nature of the dialogue between literature and politics if one begins by recognizing the different logics that operate in these different domains. Using this idea of the different logics of politics and literature as a guiding thread, Van Delden and Grenier offer bold new readings of major authors such as José Martí, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as compelling interpretations of works by less-frequently-discussed figures such as Claribel Alegría, Marisol Martín del Campo and Víctor Hugo Rascón Banda.

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The Haitian Revolution in the Literary Imagination

Radical Horizons, Conservative Constraints

Philip James Kaisary

The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) reshaped the debates about slavery and freedom throughout the Atlantic world, accelerated the abolitionist movement, precipitated rebellions in neighboring territories, and intensified both repression and antislavery sentiment. The story of the birth of the world’s first independent black republic has since held an iconic fascination for a diverse array of writers, artists, and intellectuals throughout the Atlantic diaspora. Examining twentieth-century responses to the Haitian Revolution, Philip Kaisary offers a profound new reading of the representation of the Revolution by radicals and conservatives alike in primary texts that span English, French, and Spanish languages and that include poetry, drama, history, biography, fiction, and opera.

In a complementary focus on canonical works by Aimé Césaire, C. L. R. James, Edouard Glissant, and Alejo Carpentier in addition to the work of René Depestre, Langston Hughes, and Madison Smartt Bell, Kaisary argues that the Haitian Revolution generated an enduring cultural and ideological inheritance. He addresses critical understandings and fictional reinventions of the Revolution and thinks through how, and to what effect, authors of major diasporic texts have metamorphosed and appropriated this spectacular corner of black revolutionary history.

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Hispanic Baroques

Reading Cultures in Context

Edited by Nicholas Spadaccini and Luis Martín-Estudillo

Essays focus on Baroque as a concept and category of analysis which has been central to an understanding of Hispanic cultures during the last several hundred years

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Ilan Stavans

Eight Conversations

Neal Sokol

    "Ilan Stavans has emerged as Latin America’s liveliest and boldest critic and most innovative cultural enthusiast," states the Washington Post. And the New York Times described him as "the czar of Latino literature in the United States." But his influential oeuvre doesn’t address Hispanic culture exclusively. It has also opened fresh new vistas into Jewish life globally, which has prompted the Forward to portray Stavans as "a maverick intellectual whose canonical work has already produced a whole array of marvels that are redefining Jewishness."
    Neal Sokol devoted almost a decade to the study of Stavans’s work. He applies his substantial knowledge to this candid, thought-provoking series of eight interviews. In them Stavans is caught at the vortex where his Mexican, Jewish, and American heritages meet. He discusses everything from the formative influences that shaped his worldview to anti-Semitism, Edmund Wilson, sexuality in Latin America, Gabriel García Márquez, and the fate of Yiddish. He also contrasts the role of intellectuals in advanced and developing societies, dwells on his admiration for Don Quixote and his passion for dictionaries, and reflects on his groundbreaking, controversial research on Spanglish—the hybrid encounter of English and Spanish that infuriates the Royal Academy in Madrid and also makes people describe Stavans as "the Salman Rushdie of the Hispanic world."
    Sokol shrewdly tests Stavans’s ideas and places them in context. By doing so, he offers a map to the heart and mind of one of our foremost thinkers today—an invaluable tool for his growing cadre of readers.

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Ilusionismo verbal en Elogio de la madrastra y Los cuadernos de don Rigoberto de Mario Vargas Llosa

by Guadalupe Martí-Peña

Among the multiple approaches to be taken on an author as multifaceted and prolific as the recent Nobel Laureate Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, Guadalupe Martí-Peña has chosen to look at the novelist as an illusionist. She studies this land of fantasies and daydreams, that seemingly harmless battlefield where literature, theater, and painting contend and join together with the writer, the dreamer, and the illusionist to oust reality. Focusing on Elogio de la madrastra and Los cuadernos de don Rigoberto, and the effect of illusion on the reading process, she argues that by referring to theatrical, pictorial, and mystical patterns Vargas Llosa entices us to experience, along with his characters, the unreal as real, the dream as reality, the magic of fiction as an empowering act. The book looks first at the theatricality and theatrics that enliven both texts. In the light of reader/spectator-response theories and theater semiotics, Martí-Peña shows how the novelist turns narrating into acting, fiction into performance, and reading into seeing. She next reflects upon the role that painting plays in the materialization of the characters’ desires and illusions. By funneling pictorial aesthetics through the prism of narration, and by engaging with theory concerned with issues of text-image interrelations, she examines the various functions paintings play within the linguistic system. Finally, she compares Rigoberto’s writing exercises to the writings of self-examination described by Michel Foucault in “L’écriture de soi.” Both texts encapsulate the main active ingredient in all of Vargas Llosa’s writings: that fiction is not a submission to life, but rather an insurrection against it. Verbal illusionism becomes the most efficient tactic to carry out such a rebellion. The text of this book is in Spanish.

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Imaging the Chinese in Cuban Literature and Culture

Ignacio López-Calvo

More than 150 years ago, the first Chinese contract laborers ("coolies") arrived in Cuba to work the colonial plantations. Eventually, over 150,000 Chinese immigrated to the island, and their presence has had a profound effect on all aspects of Cuban cultural production, from food to books to painting.

Ignacio Lopez-Calvo's interpretations often go against the grain of earlier research, refusing to conceive of Cuban identity either in terms of a bipolar black/white opposition or an idyllic and harmonious process of miscegenation. He also counters traditional representations of chinos mambises, Chinese immigrants who fought for Cuba in the Wars of Independence against Spain.

Imaging the Chinese in Cuban Literature and Culture fills a void in literary criticism, breaking new ground within the small field of Sino-Cuban studies. It is destined to set the tone for years to come.

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