Abstract

Whitfield explores the transnational recreation of a nineteenthcentury event in twentieth-century fictions and their exemplary role in serving local concerns while also connecting old and new homelands and bridging a century-long temporal divide. She shows how in the nineteenth century Welsh emigrants founded settlements in Patagonia, Argentina, with the hope that in this then geographically isolated diaspora, they could maintain their Welsh language and culture better than in a homeland dominated by the power of the British Empire and the English language. The attempt ultimately failed, but in the late twentieth century novels published in Argentina and Wales (in Welsh, Spanish, and English) have offered new representations of life in these settlements. Whitfield analyzes the various reasons for this reconsideration, such as the attraction of a not fully national Argentine identity in the aftermath of some failures of the Argentine state. In Wales, she shows, ever since 1962, when the playwright and activist Saunders Lewis referred to the Patagonia expedition as “that daring experiment to create a Welsh homeland,” the Patagonian past has been invoked as a model for a future, autonomous Wales. In addition, the immigrants’ landing in Patagonia in 1865 has been widely credited with reviving the interest of Welsh descendants in their parents’ and grandparents’ history. The singularity of the Welsh Patagonian narrative, Whitfield argues, is that it preserves for an Argentine nation of immigrants the memory and legacy of a particular group with peculiarly utopian aspirations, whose leaders settled new frontiers for the nation.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-1568
Print ISSN
1044-2057
Pages
pp. 333-348
Launched on MUSE
2009-10-08
Open Access
No
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