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Introduction As two key authors deeply engaged in the production, exchange, and circulation of literature produced in the context of post-1959 Latin America, Roberto Fernández Retamar and Mario Benedetti agree upon the centrality , originality, and truly unprecedented global reach of Latin American letters of this period, albeit from slightly different perspectives. Even by acknowledging the undeniable importance and contributions of authors such as José Martí, Rubén Darío, César Vallejo, Gabriela Mistral, Jorge Luis Borges, and Alejo Carpentier, among others, Fernández Retamar argued that “solo a partir de la década del sesenta puede hablarse realmente de una entrada de la literatura latinoamericana en el mundo, de su articulaci ón orgánica con la literatura universal” [only starting in the 1960s one can really talk about Latin American literature’s entry into the world, and of its organic articulation with universal literature] (“La contribución de las literaturas” 25). This might seem like an overstatement, and one might even disagree with such a claim. One ought to keep in mind, however, the context of such a rotund assertion, since Fernández Retamar read this essay at the 8th International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA) conference held in Budapest in 1976. Fernández Retamar does not make his claim lightly regarding the innovative and profound reach of the 1960s generation. In fact, he touches on the canonical names one might expect, ranging from colonial authors to the boom writers, and places them in context in Latin American letters. His point is that by the late 1950s and 1960s, there had been significant historical progression and maturity in Latin American letters that enabled a generation of writers to collaborate, 2 · Sensing Decolonial Aesthetics in Latin American Arts exchange ideas, and shape each other’s works. This generation of the 1960s also happened to be one that has been widely translated and thus widely disseminated. Fernández Retamar’s argument about Latin American literature’s “organic articulation” with universal or world literature is one that certainly resonates today in academic circles.1 Benedetti made a similar argument about the context of the 1960s in Latin American letters as one that enabled artists to develop their own voice and reach an unparalleled level of creativity. Even if there were instances in Latin American literature in which there was some measure of originality, such as in the case of modernismo, Benedetti makes the claim that Latin American literature before the 1960s was almost always lagging behind, imitating the fashions, techniques, and models coming primarily from Europe. It is in this context that Benedetti writes: “El escritor de América Latina ya no imita fielmente; tiene la necesaria libertad para crear, sea a partir de variaciones ajenas, sea a través de descubrimientos propios, un lenguaje afortunadamente original” [A Latin American writer no longer dutifully imitates; she/he has the necessary freedom to create a fortunately original language, whether based upon variations of foreign influences or upon his or her own discoveries] (“Subdesarrollo y letras de osadía” 32). Written in 1968, Benedetti’s claim has specific resonances in the political and cultural landscape that enabled writers of this generation to produce “original” works, many of which have become landmarks of Latin American literatures.2 Beyond concurring upon the centrality of the 1960s generation of writers and artists in creating truly distinct works of literature emerging from various locations throughout Latin American on an unprecedented scale, perhaps a more subtle point of encounter between Fernández Retamar’s and Benedetti’s respective positions is their emphasis on literature as only one dimension of art. This emphasis on the divisibility or separation of the arts in the Latin American context of the 1960s is one that has always struck me as particular and assumed as the norm. Part of what Sensing Decolonial Aesthetics in Latin American Arts seeks to do is to bring the arts into a dialogue, rather than treating them as entirely divorced from each other. If one accepts Fernández Retamar’s and Benedetti’s singling out of Latin American literary and poetic production of the 1960s as that of a generation of authors that truly had a global, unprecedented reach and impact, one can also argue for the contribution of Latin American films Introduction · 3 to third-world cinema or nueva canción songs to the widespread appeal of folk, socially committed, and countercultural music. And yet these art forms are treated and studied in isolation, as though each...


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