CHAPTER FIVE: Literary Cosmotopias: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Ariel and Cosm
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104 CHAPTER FIVE Literary Cosmotopias: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Ariel and Cosmópolis Modernismo in Latin America was considered a feminine literary vocation. Rafael Ferreres cites Guillermo Díaz Plaja’s bold assertion that Spain’s Generation of ’98 represents a masculine movement, while Spanish American modernismo is feminine ; eliciting Ferreres’s phobic denunciation: “Good God! If the late Valle-Inclán would have known that he was immersed in a school with feminine features!” (“¡Santo Díos, si el difunto Valle-Inclán se supiese inmerso en una escuela de rasgos femeninos!”) (“Los límites del modernismo” 30). Although to be fair, he also complains of the messy critical permutations of this assertion, which he finds inappropriate to literary criticism; instead, he offers a different characterization of how these movements are similar and dissimilar (29–49). Yet, nonetheless, the designation of masculine and feminine versions of the same phenomena suggests a hierarchy that reasserts the paternal colonial mastery of Spain. This not only derails larger cosmopolitan concerns for hospitality, justice, and freedom from prejudice ; it also undermines modernismo’s implicit challenge to center-periphery determinations in the field of letters. The phobic reaction to Latin American feminization reflects both gender and sexual anxiety at the same time that it may be read as a defense against colonial subsumption. Yet, the gender of modernismo is complicated by continually shifting alliances between a feminized cosmopolitanism and masculine nationalism. Cosmopolitan literary journals and texts encoded political interests. They were concerned with the proper way of being cosmopolitan and national at the same time, of forging literary and diplomatic parity between national and international interests. Unfortunately this search for balance was beset by rhetorical and ideological prejudices manifest in phobic language about the corrupting forces of femininity on national character. The conflict of cosmopolitanism with nationalism was played out as a kind of war between the sexes, as a gendered battle for dominance. This tension is borne out in two very similar contemporaneous cosmopolitan projects. The Venezuelan journal Cosmópolis (1894–95) and José Enrique Rodó’s Ariel (1900) both Literary Cosmotopias 105 actively promote cosmopolitanism, working from different sides of the hemispheric changes wrought in 1898, and each text aims to reroute the course of national identity through a turn to cosmopolitanism. Both use direct forms of discourse, dialogue, and lecture to teach the reader how to be cosmopolitan, and each offers a different lesson. Like Plato’s Republic, the ideal ruling community is the work of dialogue; it is something that is talked about and through conversation, endless discussion and revision, brought into being. Dialogues are often discourses of the nation-state, important public texts in which conversation amongst men models the operations of the state. Each cosmopolitan community, of Ariel and Cosmópolis , is composed of men and male youths together, and each excludes women from the work of creating national culture. The nation-ness of Cosmópolis, premised on Pan-American conversation, had a vast geographic setting, but a limited generic form, women and feminine discourse were excluded from its domain. Though Ariel shares a similar homosocial setting, its generic form is transgendered and inclusive . Its rhetoric contained the possibility of breaking the masculinist coda of nationalism. Where the Boys Are The first issue of Cosmópolis: Revista Universal hosts a cast of usual modernista suspects, from its editorial committee of Pedro César Domínici, Pedro-Emilio Coll, and L. M. Urbaneja Achelpohl—major figures of the Venezuelan literary scene—to, among others, Julián del Casal, Enrique Gómez Carrillo, and Rubén Darío. In the index of its contents, Carmen C. de Mayz describes the mission of the journal as a foundation of national literature: The publication of the first volume of Cosmópolis on the nineteenth of May in 1894 was, without doubt, the point of departure of the new Venezuelan literature. The young founders wanted to use this journal to shape the literary sensibilities of the nascent Venezuelan intellectual scene. Pedro César Domínici states: “we think that Venezuela needs periodicals of this kind in order to show other countries that we have a youth that writes with ideas, trends, steeped in all types of literature, and with full knowledge of all of the recent developments in the arts and sciences.” La publicación del primer número de ‘Cosmópolis’ el 19 de mayo de 1894 determina, sin duda alguna, el punto de partida de la nueva literatura venezolana . Sus j...


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Subject Headings

  • America -- Politics and government -- 19th century.
  • Latin America -- Civilization -- European influences.
  • Pan-Americanism -- History -- 19th century.
  • City and town life in literature.
  • Cosmopolitanism -- America -- History -- 19th century.
  • Literary movements -- America -- History -- 19th century.
  • American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
  • Latin American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
  • America -- Intellectual life -- 19th century.
  • America -- Civilization -- 19th century.
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