- Post/Imperial Encounters: Anglo-Hispanic Cultural Relations
The intricate web of cultural encounters between the Anglophone and Hispanophone 'worlds' is frequently analysed from either the context of the different articulations of the British and Spanish colonial systems in the Americas or the so-called Hispanic experience in the U.S. This volume, comprised of twelve markedly different essays, is a welcome addition to cross-cultural studies precisely because it departs from the most obvious topics in the field. According to the editors, the origins of this book 'started from a completely open topic, "Anglo-Hispanic relations"' (p. 9). As a result, this collection of articles follows a chronological order that spans five centuries and explores transcultural links not only between England and Spain, but also with the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean, and less predictably, Ireland.
In a disappointingly short introduction, the editors justify the range of topics and perspectives included in their selection by situating the articles within three temporal categories: 'the historical interventions of Britain and Spain in the Americas; the period around the Spanish Civil War; the present with its global culture tinged with neocolonialism' (p. 9). Although this selective periodization is relatively evenly represented, one can only guess why both editors and contributors seem to agree that these historical moments were more significant than others. There is a lack of clarity as to how the editors validate their chronological selection. For example, it is puzzling that the nineteenth century, a period in which Spanish and British relations in the Americas underwent profound shifts, is heavily underrepresented in these cross-cultural readings.
Notwithstanding these omissions, this volume has its merits. One of the most significant contributions of this book is that it recuperates material often neglected or ignored by non-specialists. This certainly applies to Jacqueline A. Hurtley's analysis of the travel narratives of Irish-born scholar Walter Starkie, which she situates in the context of his work as a British Council representative in post-Civil War Spain. There are [End Page 459] inspiring and to some extent innovative comparative readings as well, such as D. Gareth Walters's article on thematic parallelisms in the poetry of Federico García Lorca and Dylan Thomas; María Elena Soliño's comparative study of two Catalan writers, Ana María Matute and Esther Tusquets, which highlights the intertextual dialogues between the authors' best-known novels and the Peter Pan story; and Guillermo Iglesias Díaz's reflection on border-crossing of genre in the works of iconic directors Woody Allen and Pedro Almodóvar. Additionally, albeit perhaps pushing the boundaries of the 'Anglo-Hispanic' too far, Isabel Carrera Suárez offers a very accomplished analysis of articulations of gender and colonial discourse in an enlightening article that compares Maryse Condé's and Lucía Guerra's work while engaging with current debates on postcolonial theory and the Americas. The very important subject of literary translation is superbly tackled here by Carmen Bobes Naves who explores the crossing of cultural boundaries in Leandro Fernández de Moratín's translation of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
As the above examples show, essays on history, literature and even film interweave in this volume linking a wide range of texts, approaches and geographical locations. However, due to the lack of a solid introduction, the reader is left with the impression that many assumptions need to be made without knowing exactly where the editors stand in relation to key concepts such as language, culture, colonialism, imperialism and globalization that reverberate throughout the essays, and which, in turn, are strongly connected to the 'Anglo-Hispanic' realm. This lack of thematic coherence and conceptual framework in part explains the conflicting perspectives that emerge in this book which seems to have gone unnoticed by the editors. So for example, on the one hand the reader will find Francisco J. Borge's tropological study of Richard Hakluyt's narratives reproducing colonial discourse by failing to see the connections between the rhetoric of...