Latin American literature

Latin American literature


      the national literatures of the Spanish-speaking countries of the Western Hemisphere. Historically, it also includes the literary expression of the highly developed American Indian civilizations conquered by the Spaniards. Over the years, Latin American literature has developed a rich and complex diversity of themes, forms, creative idioms, and styles. A concise survey of its development is provided here.

The colonial (colonialism, Western) period
      When the sails of Christopher Columbus (Columbus, Christopher)'s ships rose above the horizon on October 12, 1492, the peoples of what the Europeans would call the New World possessed their own forms of artistic verbal expression: from prayers, hymns, and myths to theatre of various kinds. But even the most advanced pre-Columbian civilizations lacked alphabetic writing, so their “literature” was exclusively oral (if one includes various mnemonic ideographs and pictographs), kept by the memory of individuals entrusted with that task and by the collectivity. A substantial number of these oral narratives were preserved, thanks to the efforts of friars, priests, and chroniclers as well as native historians who learned to read and write, and the narratives' themes, characters, topics, and even metaphors have been periodically adopted by Latin American literature. In the latter half of the 20th century, much work was done to recover and study pre-Columbian literature, including that part of it created in the aftermath of the European invasion.

      The first European poetry to be heard in the New World was most surely the ballads sung by Columbus's sailors in their settlements on the island of Hispaniola (now comprising the states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic). These romances (narrative poems with eight-syllable lines), which harkened back to the Middle Ages, continued to be composed and sung in all areas where the Spaniards settled. More sophisticated poetry, following Italian Renaissance metres and themes, began to be written shortly thereafter in the capitals of the viceroyalties (or vice-kingdoms) of Mexico and Peru. These cities became the centres of European culture in America. The viceroyalty comprising what is today roughly Mexico, parts of the southwestern United States, and Central America was called the Viceroyalty of Nueva España (New Spain), and the one centred in Peru was the Viceroyalty of Peru. Because the viceregal capitals were organized like European courts, literary activity thrived there throughout the colonial period. There were poetic contests, theatre, public recitations, and literary gatherings like those of the academies and universities of Europe. With the development of the printing press in the 15th century, the Spanish empire depended more and more on the written word. Writing in all areas, particularly in law and religious doctrine, became paramount in the empire's daily life. The creation of a native elite, able to write and imbued with Western culture, was crucial to the empire's functioning, so colleges and universities were founded: a college in Mexico in 1536 and a university in 1551, a university in 1538 in Hispaniola, and a university in Lima in 1551. For learning purposes, large numbers of cartillas, or alphabet cards, were shipped from Spain.

The earliest literary activity
      Although there must have been some early stirrings in Hispaniola, literary activity in the Western sense (that is, written forms that had a conscious literary purpose and employed an alphabetic language) began with the Hispanicization of Mexico City. The former Aztec capital was already a major metropolis when the Spaniards took over, and they strove earnestly to compete with the institutions of the vanquished, particularly in religion but also in theatre, poetry, and all forms of oral literature. Mexico City soon became a cultural centre, with poets, many of them born in Spain, who were attuned to every trend back in Europe. Poets already recognized in Spain, such as the Sevillian Gutierre de Cetina (Cetina, Gutierre de) and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, lived in Mexico, as did Spanish-born prose writers such as the famous author of picaresque novels Mateo Alemán (Alemán, Mateo). The first Mexican-born poet to attain renown was Francisco de Terrazas, who composed fine sonnets in the Petrarchan style, probably during the last half of the 16th century.

      The most distinguished composition to issue from these endeavours was Grandeza mexicana (1604; “Mexican Greatness” or “The Magnificence of Mexico City”), a long poem in praise of Mexico City by Bernardo de Balbuena (Balbuena, Bernardo de). A highly elaborate piece, Balbuena's poem celebrates Mexico City as the crossroads of all worlds, a global centre through which flowed goods coming from Spain's Asian imperial outpost in the Philippines (and brought to Mexico's Pacific shores by the Manila galleon) on their way to Veracruz, where they were picked up by the fleets that would take them, via Havana, to Seville, Spain. Focusing on the economic richness brought about by so much trade, Balbuena exults in the beauty of the city's horses, monuments, markets, fruit, and pageants.

      The epic form proved to be the most important manifestation of Renaissance-style poetry in the first century of the colonial period. More specifically, these were poems written in the manner of Ludovico Ariosto (Ariosto, Ludovico)'s Orlando furioso and Torquato Tasso (Tasso, Torquato)'s Gerusalemme liberata. The best of all the epics written about the conquest of the New World was by far Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga (Ercilla y Zúñiga, Alonso de)'s La Araucana (1569–89; The Araucaniad). The young soldier and courtier began the poem while engaged in campaigns against the Araucanian Indians of what is today Chile. While the poem has been praised for the authenticity lent by the fact that the poet was a participant in the wars he describes, and also for the very positive portrayal of the Araucanians, its deepest value lies in the poetic genius Ercilla brought to it. He was a powerful and refined poet, the supreme master of the eight-line octava real stanza in the Spanish language, and he had a great sense of the dramatic. Praised by Miguel de Cervantes (Cervantes, Miguel de) in Don Quixote, Ercilla is considered a major writer in both the Spanish and Latin American canons.

      Pedro de Oña (Oña, Pedro de)'s Arauco domado (1596; Arauco Tamed) was a worthy successor on the same theme, though it is both rhetorical and derivative. Oña, a native of the region, is named in conventional histories of literature as the first great Chilean poet. He has never achieved the popularity of Ercilla, however.

      A Caribbean example of this epic tradition is Espejo de paciencia (1608; “Model of Patience”). Written in Cuba by the Canarian Silvestre de Balboa y Troya de Quesada, it is about the defeat of a French pirate who abducts a local ecclesiastic for ransom, and it reflects anti-Protestant fervour in the Spanish empire.

Chronicles of discovery and conquest
      Yet what has been commonly considered, retrospectively, the most important 16th-century writing in the Americas is the chronicles of the discovery and conquest of the New World. This group of documents includes narrative accounts, legal documents (depositions, reports, arguments, etc.), and full-fledged histories. Because of their foundational aura, the most celebrated of the texts are Columbus (Columbus, Christopher)'s letters and reports to the Catholic Monarchs and their functionaries. There is an added charm in Columbus's awkwardness of style (Spanish was not his native tongue), his difficulties in describing objects unknown to Europeans, and his huge mistakes. In spite of these often attractive flaws, his accounts constitute a substantial legacy in the discourse of the West. The most egregious of Columbus's errors was, of course, his belief that he had arrived somewhere in Asia, which led to his adopting the name “Indies” for the lands he “discovered.” Hence the misnomer “Indians” for all the natives of the American continent.

      Columbus's letters and reports were quickly disseminated in the original and in Latin translations. Using these and other early accounts, the Italian humanist Peter Martyr d'Anghiera wrote, during the last years of the 15th and early years of the 16th century, the first history of the New World: De Orbe Novo decades (1516; De Orbe Novo: The Eight Decades of Peter Martyr d'Anghiera). Whereas Columbus was a navigator who could write a little, Peter Martyr was steeped in culture; during the 16th century his elegant Latin tract enjoyed a wide readership all over Europe.

      While the discovery of the Caribbean was an astonishing event to Europeans, the discovery of Mexico was dazzling. Here were hitherto unknown civilizations that not only were populous and spread over vast territories but also had splendid cities and complex forms of government, arts, crafts, and religious practices. Knowledge of the conquest of Mexico was provided by its Spanish protagonist Hernán Cortés (Cortés, Hernán, marqués del Valle de Oaxaca), whose Cartas de relación (1519–26; Letters from Mexico) told of the tortuous campaign by which a few hundred Spaniards took over the powerful Aztec empire, aided by gunpowder, horses, cunning, and the resentful peoples who were subject to Aztec rule. Cortés was a vigorous writer, with a flair for the dramatic and an eye for the kind of details that would captivate the European reader. He described battles but also customs, costumes, rituals, and the elaborate protocol of the Aztec court. Cortés was a master at self-dramatization and self-promotion. His haughty attitude provoked one of his soldiers, Bernal Díaz del Castillo (Díaz del Castillo, Bernal), to write a prolix account of the conquest 50 years after the event. He wanted to give the common soldier's perspective. Díaz del Castillo's prodigious memory allowed him to recall vividly many of his companions, down to the names and colours of their horses. The Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España (1632; The True History of the Conquest of Mexico) is a monumental volume written by a man who claimed to have little formal education, which may explain the book's particular immediacy and charm. It is an invaluable source of information on both the common lives of the soldiers and the customs of the natives they defeated. Most memorable is Díaz del Castillo's description of the astonishment Spaniards felt at the sight of Mexico City, which he likens to the marvels found in the romances of chivalry. While not literary in the formal sense of Renaissance poetics, the Historia verdadera is literature in a modern sense in that it places authenticity above all rules of style or decorum. Nothing escapes the author's gaze; no detail is too insignificant or even repulsive. Of all the books to have come out of colonial Latin America, his is the one still most read.

      But no book coming from the Spanish dominions attained a wider readership at the time than Bartolomé de Las Casas (Las Casas, Bartolomé de)'s Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (1542; A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies). Originally a Spanish settler, Las Casas was appalled at the treatment of the Indians by the rapacious Spaniards. He became a Dominican friar, steeped himself in the law, and began to write bitter denunciations of the conquistadors' actions; these he directed to the Spanish crown, whom he considered innocently unaware of what was being perpetrated in the monarch's name. In 1526 Las Casas also commenced the Historia de las Indias (selections appear in History of the Indies), a voluminous history of the conquest of the New World. It was not published in his lifetime, but Las Casas did publish a summary, the Brevísima relación, as a polemic, hoping that it would have an immediate and telling impact. It did, probably beyond his expectations. Las Casas's accusations were a factor in the issuance of the “New Laws” that went some way toward ending hereditary Spanish grants of land and Indians, thus limiting the Spaniards' use of natives for labour. His little book took on a life of its own abroad, being translated into several European languages and used by Spain's enemies to elaborate what has come to be known as the “ Black Legend,” a lurid account of what occurred to the Indians at the hands of the Spaniards. Brevísima relación became, in short, part of the religious polemics and wars between Spain and countries under the sway of the Protestant Reformation. Written in a dramatic style and perhaps exaggerating the atrocities perpetrated on the Indians, it was both a polemic and an appeal. Las Casas is known as “the Apostle of the Indians” and is revered in Latin America. He remained a controversial figure in Spain until the 20th century.

Historians of the New World
      By the turn of the 17th century, most of the conquest of America had been accomplished, and historians, some appointed by the Spanish crown, attempted to provide a comprehensive overview of the event. Whereas at first chroniclers had prevailed—some of whom, such as Columbus and Cortés, had been protagonists—now the historians took over. Other than Las Casas, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo and official court historian Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas continued the work that Peter Martyr had begun. The most significant among these new writers, however, was Garcilaso de la Vega, El Inca (Garcilaso de la Vega), the son of a Spanish conquistador and an Inca woman of noble lineage. Because of his combined heritage, Garcilaso, who was born in Peru but spent most of his adult life in Spain, is commonly considered to be the first truly Latin American writer. His masterpiece is Los comentarios reales de los Incas (1609, 1617; Royal Commentaries of the Incas, with a foreword by Arnold J. Toynbee), whose second part is called Historia general del Perú (General History of Peru).

      The Comentarios reales tells the history of the Inca empire, providing a detailed description of all aspects of Inca culture. It is also the story of Garcilaso's maternal family, based on his own recollections of what his relatives told him and on the oral and written testimony of others. Garcilaso's avowed purpose is to correct the Spanish histories of the conquest of the Andes (hence the title “commentaries”), which were written by men who did not even know the Quechuan languages spoken by the natives of Peru. He gives a dramatic account that combines autobiography, ethnography, and history, all cast in an elegant and precise prose style. The Historia general del Perú relates the tale of the Spanish conquest and the civil wars among the Spanish, in which Garcilaso's father played a prominent, though controversial, role (he was accused of aiding those rebelling against the crown). It is the story of Garcilaso's paternal family, told in excruciating detail for it was intended to clear his father's name before the Spanish authorities.

      Garcilaso is the most prominent of the native historians of the conquest because his book is of such a high literary quality and also because of his mixed heritage. In the 20th century his fellow Peruvian Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala was also intensively studied. Guamán Poma's lengthy and wide-ranging El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno (1612–15; “The First New Chronicle and Good Government,” translated in abridgment as Letter to a King) is written in a very faulty Spanish, laced with Quechua words and troubled by Quechuan syntax, which gives his work an authentic and dramatic tone. The book is illustrated with Guamán Poma's primitive but trenchant full-page drawings of the events he narrates. Its author accuses the Spaniards of not abiding by their own Christian doctrine, which he himself has adopted, and demands the restoration of native leaders to local rule. The Primer nueva corónica is a laboriously told history that includes lore and descriptions of native customs and practices. Guamán Poma did not have much impact on Latin American literature and historiography because his manuscript was not discovered and published until the 20th century.

      While historians were interpreting the events of the conquest and debating their consequences, literary life in the Spanish empire continued unabated. Renaissance poetry, as well as other cultural manifestations, soon evolved into Baroque forms, particularly in the viceroyalties of Mexico and Peru. A distinctive kind of Baroque art developed in colonial Latin America, a style that has come to be known as the Barroco de Indias, or “Baroque of the Indies,” arguably the first authentic artistic style to emerge in the region.

The Barroco de Indias
      In poetry, the Barroco de Indias begins with a gleeful acceptance of the manner originated by Luis de Góngora y Argote (Góngora y Argote, Luis de), the great Spanish Baroque poet, who had brought about a veritable revolution in poetic language. Góngora's poetry is difficult, laden with mythological allusions, bristling with daring metaphors that strain the limits of the language, and syntactically complex. He soon had numerous and ardent praisers and detractors in Spain and the viceroyalties. Among the poets, whatever their status, he was mostly admired and imitated. In fact, gongorismo is practically a whole poetic movement in colonial Latin America, affecting poetry through the 17th century and well into the 18th.

      Baroque poetry is known for its vicious satires (satire). Góngora, for example, delighted in heaping invective on his literary rivals. Viceregal courts outdid the Spanish court in pomposity, constantly providing ample targets for their poets to exercise satirical wit. Whereas Balbuena's Grandeza mexicana (1604) praised Mexico City, Mateo Rosas de Oquendo's Sátira hecha por Mateo Rosas de Oquendo a las cosas que pasan en el Pirú año de 1598 (1598; “Satire Written by Mateo Rosas de Oquendo About Things Happening in Peru in the Year 1598”) satirized Peru. The Spanish-born wanderer lived for some time in Tucuman and Lima, where he turned a caustic eye on colonial society. Lima itself, profiting from silver mines in Potosí, now had literary academies, luxurious goods, and various forbidden pleasures, all of which called forth an elaborate invective from Rosas de Oquendo. He was surpassed in his criticism of colonial doings, however, by Juan del Valle y Caviedes, a shopkeeper who was also Spanish-born. Caviedes, the best-known satirical poet of the Barroco de Indias, focused on the frailties of the human body, to the extent that some readers believed him to be syphilitic as well as misanthropic. His most important work was Diente del Parnaso (“The Tooth of Parnassus”), a collection of 47 poems not published until 1873. These are given over to ridiculing the hapless doctors of Lima, who killed more often than they cured. Caviedes, as did other poets of the Barroco de Indias, found the scholastic “science” of the time lacking and showed a modern impatience with its crude methods of observation and reliance on received authority.

      Probably the best practitioner of Gongorist poetry in colonial Latin America was Hernando Domínguez Camargo, a Jesuit born in Bogotá. Domínguez Camargo wrote a voluminous epic, Poema heroico de San Ignacio de Loyola (1666; “Heroic Poem in Praise of St. Ignatius Loyola”), praising the founder of the Jesuit order, but he is best remembered for a short ballad titled "A un salto por donde se despeña el arroyo de Chillo" (“To a Waterfall Where the Chillo Brook Crashes”). The said brook is portrayed as a bolting horse that smashes himself against rocks at the bottom of a waterfall, presenting an image of grotesque beauty typical of the Baroque.

      The Barroco de Indias peaks in the poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Cruz, Sor Juana Inés de la), who has become a canonical figure in Spanish-language literature. Sor Juana's life was dramatic: she rose to fame from illegitimacy and a precarious childhood. Invited to the viceregal court, she shone there and was later admitted to a convent, where she suffered a saintly death while assisting the victims of an epidemic. Despite all misguided efforts to make her a heretic, Sor Juana was a pious Catholic nun. As a writer, she was versatile, putting forth poetry, prose, and plays. Her extended philosophical poem Primero sueño (1692; “First Dream,” Eng. trans. Sor Juana's Dream) ranked alongside Góngora's Soledades in the breadth and depth of its aspirations. "The Respuesta a Sor Filotea" (written 1691; “Answer to Sor Filotea,” included in Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Poems, 1985) is an early instance of feminism in its argument that women should be permitted to have intellectual interests. Sor Juana's love sonnets manage to be at the same time playful and profound. Her secular and religious plays are well-crafted. Along with Garcilaso de la Vega, but surpassing his literary accomplishments in both quality and quantity, Sor Juana stands at the apex of colonial letters. Her modern perspectives foreshadow the work of the 18th century and beyond.

Roberto González Echevarría

The 18th century

The Caroline reforms
      Following the War of the Spanish Succession (Spanish Succession, War of the) (1701–14), the first Spanish Bourbons set out to put their kingdoms in order and to win the hearts and minds of their subjects. Philip V (1700–24, 1724–46), Luis I (1724), and Ferdinand VI (1746–59) enacted new tax laws, overhauled domestic and international defense, converted the aristocracy into a service nobility, and enlisted the literati to frame these changes as a return to Castilian tradition. The culmination of their vision was the reign of Charles III (1759–88), who pursued fiscal and political changes in Spanish America known as the Caroline reforms and expelled the Jesuits in 1767.

      The Viceroyalty of New Granada (New Granada, Viceroyalty of) (now Colombia, Venezuela, and parts of Ecuador and Peru) became an important centre for scientific study and commerce. It had foundered after its initial founding in 1717, was suppressed in 1723, and was reestablished in 1739. Numerous Spanish and other European scientists traveled to New Granada and the other viceroyalties of Spanish America during the first half of the century. There they measured and categorized plants, stones, and animals, led by the Enlightenment impulse to dominate nature through intellectual rather than physical force. Spanish merchants, too, flocked to the viceregal capitals, where they hoped to enrich themselves, marry wealthy Creole women, and become members of the ruling clans. Before and after their expulsion, the Jesuit humanists (like 18th-century Italian and Spanish humanists in general) looked to Renaissance authorities on rhetoric and poetics. They traced a continuum between the earlier humanists and contemporary authorities on physics and optics. Exiled to northern Italy, some of these Jesuits were among the first Spanish Americans to issue calls for independence.

      In addition to the accounts of Spanish America earlier penned by European explorers, philosophers, and naturalists, important historiographical works were written by Creoles or by Spaniards who had lived most of their lives in one or more of the viceroyalties. José Gumilla, a Jesuit missionary along the banks of the Orinoco River, wrote the first modern account of the flora, fauna, and humans in that region. Demonstrating a humanist's command of Classical and Renaissance rhetoric and a philosopher's understanding of modern physics and geography, El Orinoco ilustrado (1741–45; “The River Orinoco Illustrated”) circulated throughout the Americas and Europe in several languages. Another Jesuit, Juan José de Eguiara y Eguren, put together a literary history of New Spain. His incomplete Bibliotheca mexicana (1755; “Mexicana Library”) brings together the manuscripts and published works of authors there. Six decades later the counterrevolutionary Mexican Mariano Beristáin de Souza advanced the humanist's project in his own Biblioteca hispanoamericana septentrional (1816–21; “Northern Spanish American Library”).

      José Martín Félix de Arrate y Acosta finished his Llave del Nuevo Mundo, antemural de las Indias Occidentales: La Habana descripta (“Key to the New World, Holding Wall of the Indies: Havana Described”) in 1761, though it was first published in 1827. Alongside his defense of Creoles in Havana, Arrate laid out economic statistics and policies for Cuba inspired by modern economic theorists. Steeped in Classical erudition, José Eusebio de Llano Zapata corresponded with humanists throughout Europe after he left Peru at midcentury. He authored treatises on formal logic and physics and a carefully researched and written natural history, Memorias histórico-físicas-apologéticas de la América Meridional (1761; “Apologetic Historico-Physical Memoirs of South America”), of which only one volume has been published. The economy of expression in Llano Zapata's Memorias and his access to the publications of academies of science in London, Paris, Vienna, and Amsterdam make previous natural histories of South America appear unscientific.

      A very different sort of historiography was practiced by the Spaniard Alonso Carrió de Lavandera (Carrió de Lavandera, Alonso), who left Spain for New Spain and later moved to Peru, where he spent nearly 40 years. A merchant and provincial magistrate whom the Spanish crown commissioned to escort the Jesuits out of Peru in 1767, he conducted an inspection of the postal system of the viceroyalty in 1771–73. His satirical account of that tour, El lazarillo de ciegos caminantes (1775?; “Guide for Roving Blindmen” or “Guide for Blind Rovers,” Eng. trans. El Lazarillo: A Guide for Inexperienced Travelers Between Buenos Aires and Lima), was published under a pseudonym and is perhaps the best-known Latin American work of the 18th century. Its most obvious debt is to Menippean satire (Menippus), since it parodies elements of the travelogue, almanac, natural history, newspaper, and memoir. Carrió condemns the moral and political blindness of apparently enlightened crown and church officials from Guatemala—through which he passed on his way to the Viceroyalty of Peru—to Argentina.

      In the late 18th century Juan de Velasco wrote Historia del reino de Quito en la América meridional (“History of the Kingdom of Quito in South America”), a comprehensive account of pre-Columbian and colonial Quito, not published until well into the 19th century. The Jesuit Francisco Javier Clavijero wrote numerous chronicles, including the formidable Storia antica del Messico (1780–81; “Ancient History of Mexico,” Eng. trans. The History of Mexico). Translated into Spanish as Historia antigua de México in the early 19th century, it manifests the Classical erudition of Jesuits in Mexico City and signals the evolution of Creole consciousness. A lawyer and theologian, Antonio Sánchez Valverde wrote important essays on medicine, philosophy, and history, as well as several tomes of Neoclassical sermons. For his invectives against the Spanish crown and church officials in Santo Domingo, he was harassed and imprisoned. He fled to Spain, where he became a member of the economic society of Madrid. (Formed to foment local economies, economic societies in Latin America became heavily involved in pro-independence movements.) He is best known for his 1785 essay "Idea del valor de la Isla Española" (“An Idea of Hispaniola's Value”). The Cuban Ignacio José de Urrutia y Montoya, a distinguished jurist who had studied in Mexico City, left unfinished his Teatro histórico, jurídico, y político militar de la Isla Fernandina de Cuba (1789; “Historical, Legal, Political, and Military Theatre of the Island of Cuba”). The introduction manifests his command of Neoclassical rhetoric while it glosses the major jurists of the western European Enlightenment.

      A controversial figure, the Mexican friar José Servando Teresa de Mier Noriega y Guerra lived and wrote in Spain, France, and other European countries. In Memorias (probably first published in 1856 in a book about Servando Teresa de Mier; The Memoirs of Fray Servando Teresa de Mier) and Historia de la revolución de Nueva España (1813; “History of the Revolution in New Spain”), he revealed the political and religious justifications for Mexican independence. No less significant is the brief Carta a los españoles americanos (“Letter to American Spaniards”), written in 1791 by the Peruvian Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán. It was published first in French (1799) and then in Spanish (1801). Viscardo claimed that rapacious adventurers had transformed a shining conquest of souls into the shame of the Spanish name and that Spanish rule was tyranny. His accusations went beyond those of Bartolomé de Las Casas (Las Casas, Bartolomé de). Viscardo called on Creoles to lift the yoke of tyranny by separating from Spain. Both the Mexican and the Peruvian emboldened actors of the independence movements and created nightmarish visions of Spanish colonial rule that would be repeated by Neoclassicists and Romantics in the republics of Spanish America.

      Although elites in Spanish America did not embrace Enlightenment ideals until the last years of the 18th century, authors began much earlier to explore the new ways of thinking about nature and to develop new ways of imitating it in fiction and new ways of viewing their societies. The exaggeration of Baroque tendencies marks much of the literature from the first half of the century. In some authors' works, a swollen Gongorism mixes with the rationalism prescribed by French Neoclassicists to produce an incipient Rococo period of intense preciosity. This is especially true of the works of those authors who wrote occasional theatre and poetry—that is, dramas and poems that celebrated the arrivals or birthdays of archbishops and viceroys, military victories, and so on.

      Unlike the historiographers, those agents of revolution and republicanism, playwrights throughout the 18th century imagined spectacles of royal power in which hierarchies of estate, caste, and gender were reinforced for literate and illiterate spectators alike. Reworkings of plays by Calderón (Calderón de la Barca, Pedro) and Lope de Vega (Vega, Lope de) competed with original dramas that glorified the reconquest of Spain from Muslim invaders and the conquest of America. Fernando de Orbea, whose family occupied government positions throughout the Viceroyalty of Peru, wrote one of the few surviving plays from what is today Colombia. In La conquista de Santa Fé de Bogotá (“The Conquest of Santa Fé de Bogotá [an early name for the city of Bogotá],” which may have been first performed in 1710), arias and recitative in Spanish and in Quechua (Quechuan languages) present a vision of the Spanish conquest that was modeled after Virgil's Aeneid and several colonial chronicles. In Lima the dramas of Pedro de Peralta Barnuevo ranged from adaptations of French Neoclassical plays to librettos for operas at the viceregal palace. A mathematician, poet, attorney, accountant, and historian, Peralta dazzled European visitors to Lima. La Rodoguna (written about 1719) is a free adaptation of Pierre Corneille (Corneille, Pierre)'s drama Rodogune (the name of the play's heroine); it is more Neoclassical than Peralta's occasional plays. The best of the latter is El Mercurio galante (“The Gallant Mercury”), an operetta performed in 1720 between the acts of Afectos vencen finezas (“Feelings Conquer Finery”). A spoof of the courting devices of Spaniards from different kingdoms, El Mercurio galante was Peralta's rejoinder to the tales of Spanish suitors and seductresses published in the lighthearted Parisian magazine Mercure galant. Eusebio Vela, a transplanted Spanish actor and playwright, wrote plays that were popular in Mexico City. El apostolado en las Indias y martirio de un cacique (“The Apostolate in the Indies and Martyrdom of a Chief”), first performed in 1732, presents a somewhat sanitized account of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire. While the plot and diction owe much to Spanish Baroque theatre, the hero Cortés foreshadows the rational, sensitive leaders that came to dominate the Spanish and Italian stage during the second half of the century. Santiago de Pita, an army officer from Havana, wrote El príncipe jardinero y fingido Cloridano (c. 1730; “The Gardener-Prince and Feigned Cloridano”), a musical play on love and kingship that was inspired by Italian operas. It was performed in Spain during the 18th century. Francisco del Castillo, a blind Mercedarian friar who was called “El Ciego de la Merced,” was a favourite at the viceregal court. His La conquista del Perú (performed in 1748; “The Conquest of Peru”) and his tragedy Mitrídates, rey del Ponto (before 1749; “Mithridates, King of Pontus”) show his range as a dramatist who, like Peralta, was negotiating the Spanish Baroque and French Neoclassicism. Castillo's complete works were published in the 20th century.

      Lyrical and spiritual poems have survived, although they are of uneven quality. Mother Francisca Josefa de la Concepción de Castillo y Guevara, who wrote a prose autobiography, Vida (published 1817; “Life”), at the behest of her confessor, also composed the poetry in Afectos espirituales (written mostly in the early and mid-1700s; published 1843; “Spiritual Feelings”). Both these works are notable for their mystic reflection. The Jesuit Juan Bautista Aguirre wrote spiritual, lyrical, and satirical poetry that was published after his death. His "A una rosa" (“To a Rose”) and "Descripción del Mar de Venus" (“Description of Venus's Sea”) illustrate the prolonged transition from late Baroque to Neoclassical aesthetics that characterizes the Rococo. Manuel de Zequeira y Arango, a Cuban Neoclassical poet, is best known for his idyllic portrait of Cuba, "A la piña" (“To the Pineapple”), which was written sometime before 1821 and published posthumously.

       epic poetry was not often attempted in Spanish during the first half of the 18th century. Pedro de Peralta Barnuevo's Lima fundada; o, conquista del Perú (1732; “Lima Founded; or, Conquest of Peru”) illustrates the promise and the pitfalls of the genre. While Peralta's occasional poetry often confirms the staying power of Góngora, Lima fundada blends Alonso de Ercilla (Ercilla y Zúñiga, Alonso de)'s poetics with French Neoclassical prescriptions for epic and bucolic poetry. Intellectual achievements interested Peralta more than military feats: continuous footnotes on men of letters in Spain and Peru dwarf the descriptions of battles, and Francisco Pizarro (Pizarro, Francisco) goes missing for pages. Some two decades later, in Mexico City, Francisco Ruiz de León created a Cortés who appears less a conqueror than a courtier in Hernandia (1755; “Ferdinand”). The frequent appearance in Hernandia of the Italian scena (a form of solo vocal composition in which the recitative is followed by arias) and several allusions to soft music and song during battles are firmly Rococo and confirm his debts to opera, which had been popular in the viceregal courts of Spanish America since the late 17th century.

      An exiled Jesuit, Rafael Landívar, wrote Rusticatio mexicana (1782; The Rusticatio Mexicana of Rafael Landívar), a Latin poem that owes much to the bucolic poetry published in France and England a century earlier. Rusticatio mexicana exalts the animals, plants, and minerals native to New Spain, detailing the agricultural, textile, and mining practices of the region.

      Satirical poetry was much more common. Friar Castillo's salty "Conversaciones" (“Conversations”) reveal tears in the social fabric of Lima. Miscegenation, smuggling, prostitution, fashion, and feigned nobility are all targeted in the tradition of Rosas de Oquendo and Caviedes. The Andalusian Esteban de Teralla y Landa, who lived in Mexico City before he moved to Lima about 1782, contrasted appearances and realities in a manner reminiscent of Juvenal. Written under the pseudonym Simón Ayanque, Lima por dentro y fuera (1797; “Lima Inside and Out”) is his best-known work. In a style representative of Rococo poetics he lays waste to Lima's enlightened facade.

Early novels (novel)
      The late 18th century saw the rise of the Latin American novel. In these early novels, one encounters at every turn the Neoclassical conviction that society would be reformed by a combination of informed individual choice and state regulation. Francisco Javier Eugenio de Santa Cruz y Espejo, son of a Quechua father and a Spanish mother, penned satirical novels, treatises on medical and religious matters, and legal papers. His novel El nuevo Luciano de Quito (written in 1779; “The New Lucian of Quito”) and its sequel La ciencia blancardina (written in 1780; “Blancardian Science”) ridiculed the schoolmen's educational program. He proposed cultural reforms that borrowed from Thomas Hobbes (Hobbes, Thomas), Sir Francis Bacon (Bacon, Francis, Viscount Saint Alban (or Albans), Baron of Verulam), Voltaire, Adam Smith (Smith, Adam), and Neoclassical authorities from France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. Espejo was active in Santa Fé de Bogotá's economic society, and in 1792 he founded Quito's first newspaper, Primicias de la cultura de Quito (“Seedlings of Civilization in Quito”). His satires circulated widely in manuscript but were not published until the 20th century.

      The Peruvian Pablo Antonio José de Olavide y Jáuregui was the quintessential Enlightenment reformer. Among other things, he worked at establishing immigrant colonies to expand the agricultural sector and reinforce the notion that manual labour was not dishonourable, and he was one of those who aimed at teaching trades and persuading the aristocracy to use trained workers on their lands. In his early 20s Olavide bought a seat on the royal court in Lima. Within a year he faced legal sanctions for his role in the reconstruction efforts that followed the massive earthquake of 1746. He fled to Spain, where he married a wealthy middle-aged widow. His Paulina (1828), Sabina (1828), and other sentimental novels and short stories were influenced by Samuel Richardson (Richardson, Samuel), Voltaire, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques). After several years of working on immigration and economic projects, Olavide was persecuted for his unorthodox religious views and took refuge in France. His eventual disavowal of such views is fictionalized in the melancholic tale of fall and redemption El Evangelio en triunfo; o, historia de un filósofo desengañado (1797; “The Gospel in Triumph; or, History of an Undeceived Philosopher”) and explored further in Poemas cristianos (1797; “Christian Poems”). Olavide's poetry and prose maintained the didacticism of Neoclassicism while they foreshadowed the tenebrism of Romanticism.

      The most famous literary figure of late colonial New Spain is the novelist, poet, and journalist José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi (Fernández de Lizardi, José Joaquín). His acerbic wit and wide-ranging interests are evident in his best-known novels, El periquillo sarniento (vol. 1–3 were published in 1816; vol. 4 was suppressed, probably for “offense to public morals,” until 1830–31; The Itching Parrot) and La educación de las mujeres; o, La Quijotita y su prima (incomplete edition 1818–19; complete edition 1831–32; “The Education of Women; or, Miss Quixote and Her Cousin”). The first is a raucous journey through late 18th-century Mexico in the form of an elderly man's picaresque life story. Its successor asks prospective female readers to look in the two mirrors that are its two female principals and to rid themselves of the same vices that they see in the ill-fated Quijota. Lizardi's novels present a sometimes patronizing, always rationalist perspective on lives that do not measure up to Enlightenment ideals.

      For late 18th-century authors and their crown and church patrons, Neoclassicism represented both the spirit of their age and the destined fate of society under their tutelage. But by the fourth decade of the 19th century, many of Spain's American dominions had achieved political independence, and authors elected to wrap Neoclassical forms around the goal of cultural independence or to discard them altogether as unwanted remnants of the crown.

Ruth Hill

The 19th century

      The first Latin Americans to write under the sway of Romanticism were poets such as the Cuban José María de Heredia (Heredia, José Maria de), who had begun by mastering Neoclassical poetic forms. Heredia still wrote odes in the Neoclassical manner, but the emotional charge of his poetry, the presentation of a self astonished by the beauty and power of nature, and his espousal of the cause for national independence were Romantic to the core. Romanticism in Latin America was coeval with the movements that brought about independence from Spain to all Latin American countries, save, ironically, Heredia's Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean.

      The Venezuelan Andrés Bello (Bello, Andrés), who was imbued with the Neoclassical spirit, had written Silva a la agricultura de la zona tórrida (1826; “Ode to Agriculture in the Torrid Zone”), a Virgilian poem that lauds nature for its generous sustenance of man. The Ecuadorian José Joaquín de Olmedo (Olmedo, José Joaquín) wrote in praise of the heroes of South American independence, as in his 1825 ode “La victoria de Junín: canto a Bolívar” (“The Victory at Junín: A Song to Bolívar”). Heredia, on the other hand, wrote a Romantic ode to Niagara Falls, "Oda al Niágara" (“Ode to Niagara”), whose theme is the water's violent beauty. A similar poem addressed to a hurricane, "En una tempestad" (“In a Storm”), expressed his awe and fear before the wantonly destructive wind. An exile who lived in the United States and Mexico and died young, Heredia was the very embodiment of the Romantic outcast, horrified by the abuses of established authority, which in this case was the Spanish government of Cuba. In his "Himno del desterrado" (“Hymn of the Exile”) he sings about the clash between Cuba's physical beauty and the outrages committed in its immoral political life.

      In contrast to Heredia, the Argentine Esteban Echeverría, who had left his country voluntarily, returned in the early 1830s from studying in Paris to become an active promoter of democracy and Romantic literature. Argentina, of course, had become an independent country, but, as happened elsewhere in the continent, it had gone from foreign rule to domestic despotism. Echeverría became an opponent of the Juan Manuel de Rosas (Rosas, Juan Manuel de) dictatorship (1835–52). In 1837 he founded the Asociación de Mayo (“May Association,” after the month of Argentina's independence), a group of liberal intellectuals who sought a national literature reflective of their culture and society. By 1841 Echeverría had to leave Argentina as an exile. He went to Uruguay, where he remained until his early death. Though a prolific writer and pamphleteer, Echeverría's place in literary history is secured by a poem and a short story. The poem, “La cautiva” (“The Captive,” included in Rimas [1837]), is about a white couple, María and Brian, abducted by Indians. His story "El matadero" (“The Slaughterhouse”) was written between 1838 and 1840, but it was not published until 30 years later, after Echeverría's death. It is a political allegory directed against Rosas: a cultivated young man, liberal in manner and dress, is brutally slain by thugs who frequent the Buenos Aires slaughterhouse.

      But the towering figure of Argentine—and Latin American—literature of the mid-19th century was Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino). His Civilización y barbarie: Vida de Juan Facundo Quiroga (1845; Life in the Argentine Republic in the Age of the Tyrants) is arguably the most important book ever written by a Latin American. It was written during Sarmiento's second exile in Chile, as a political pamphlet against Rosas. But the book, which grew in subsequent editions, was a wide-ranging meditation on Argentine culture, centred on the figure of strongman Facundo Quiroga, whom Sarmiento offers as the prototype of the rural strong man who might evolve into a Rosas. Sarmiento is attracted and repulsed by the gauchos (gaucho literature), the Argentine cowboys from whose midst Facundo emerged. His loving descriptions of the Argentine plain, the Pampas, and of the nomadic gauchos are among the most powerful in Latin American literature. But Sarmiento wanted Argentina to be modern, to adopt the ways of his admired United States, and to reject the barbaric gaucho culture that led to a tyrant like Rosas. The clash between barbarism (rural, native culture) and civilization (urban, European-influenced culture) that Sarmiento saw at the core of Argentine life became a formula for characterizing all of Latin American culture. It is, with his great book, Sarmiento's most enduring legacy. Sarmiento was elected president of Argentina in 1868, and he remained in power until 1874, beginning a tradition of important writers becoming presidents that endures in Latin America to the present day.

      The Romantic preference for national themes, local landscapes, and regional human types continued with an epic poem by Juan Zorrilla de San Martín (Zorrilla de San Martín, Juan), Tabaré (1886; Tabaré: An Indian Legend of Uruguay), which depicted the fate of the Charrúa Indians, defeated by the Spanish invaders. The high point of this trend of portraying native types was reached in Argentina by José Hernández (Hernández, José) in the gaucho epic Martín Fierro (1872–79; Martín Fierro: An Epic of the Argentine, also translated as The Gaucho Martin Fierro). It was the best of the gaucho literature genre, inaugurated unwittingly by Sarmiento's Facundo—a body of literature that included Rafael Obligado's Santos Vega (1887), on a famous minstrel, and the comical Fausto (1866; Faust) by Estanislao del Campo (Campo, Estanislao del). The Caribbean counterpart of this literature was the Cuban antislavery novel, in which the wretched living conditions of African slaves toiling in the production of sugar are depicted. The Romantic Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (Gómez de Avellaneda, Gertrudis), a celebrated lyric poet, published Sab (1841; Sab: An Autobiography), about a house slave in love with his white mistress; and Anselmo Suárez y Romero wrote his powerful Francisco (1839). The masterpiece of this group of novels was Cecilia Valdés (1882; Cecilia Valdés; or, Angel's Hill: A Novel of Cuban Customs), by the Cuban exile Cirilo Villaverde, perhaps the best Latin American novel of the 19th century. Villaverde's only competition comes from two other novels named after their women protagonists: María (1867; María: A South American Romance), by the Colombian Jorge Isaacs (Isaacs, Jorge), and Amalia (1851–55; Amalia: A Romance of the Argentine), by the Argentine José Mármol (Mármol, José). Villaverde's vast narrative centres on the heroine, Cecilia, a mulatto so light-skinned that she can pass for white, who is in love with Leonardo, white, rich, and, unbeknownst to them, her half-brother. Cecilia Valdés is rich in details of Cuban life under Spanish domination, and it is a scathing denunciation of slavery. Romantic in spirit, the novel is cast in the mold of 19th-century realism, a combination that in Latin America produced a version of a peculiar new genre, the cuadro de costumbres, or “sketch of local customs” (a form of costumbrismo). These brief, descriptive essays (essay) depicted the lives of rural folk, or of poor urban dwellers, whose traditional customs differed from the modern ways of those writing them. A uniquely Peruvian version was created by Ricardo Palma (Palma, Ricardo), whose sketches are often brief narratives that he called tradiciones. Volumes of his Tradiciones peruanas appeared between 1872 and 1910. They occupy a prominent place in Latin American literary history. (English-language selections from them appear in The Knights of the Cape and Thirty-seven Other Selections from the Tradiciones Peruanas of Ricardo Palma [1945].)

      By the end of Palma's career as a writer, a new literary movement had swept through Latin America, Modernismo, the first since the Barroco de Indias to have a distinctly New World inflection. Its leader was the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío (Darío, Rubén), the first great poet in the Spanish language since Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Darío's slim volume of poetic prose and poetry Azul (1888; “Blue”) is a watershed for both Latin American and Spanish literature. Darío, who had been reading French Symbolist (Symbolist movement) poetry, took seriously Rimbaud's injunction that “one must be absolutely modern.” In that spirit Darío chose “Modernism” as the name for his movement. This meant writing poetry of uncompromising aesthetic beauty and discarding the sentimentality and the rhetoric of Romanticism, which in Spanish had not yielded great poetic works. Darío experimented with metrics, with the accentuation of verse, with the inner rhythm of prose, with rhyme, and with asymmetrical stanzas to create a sonorous, musical language. His themes were often erotic, in daring, decadent fashion. Exoticism, particularly “Oriental” subjects and objects, obsessed him. Darío led a bohemian, cosmopolitan life, sometimes accepting the patronage of minor Central American tyrants and always the accolades of the rich and powerful. He spread his poetic gospel by traveling and living in various Latin American countries—Chile, Argentina, Cuba—and inflamed the Spanish literary scene during his sojourns in the mother country. His Prosas profanas (1896; “Lay Prose,” Eng. trans. in Prosas Profanas and Other Poems) was scandalous, beginning with the misleading and daring title. The verses were a profanation in subject and form. They project a sense of aristocracy born of good taste and a disdain for those lacking it. By 1905, when he published Cantos de vida y esperanza (“Songs of Life and Hope”), Darío was less haughty and more reflective, sober, sombre, and mature. Here he introduces political topics, assuming in one memorable poem (“Oda a Roosevelt”) an anti-American, anti-Protestant stance while proclaiming a pan-Hispanic identity (a position generally apparent in the English-language volume titled Selected Poems [1965]).

      Darío's fellow modernistas include the Cubans José Martí (Martí, José Julián) and Julián del Casal (Casal, Julián del), the Colombian José Asunción Silva (Silva, José Asunción), and the Mexicans Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera (Gutiérrez Nájera, Manuel) and Amado Nervo (Nervo, Amado). All died relatively young, which curtailed the reach and duration of the movement. They were all remarkable poets, but Martí, because of his political activities organizing the war of Cuban independence and his heroic death in the field of battle, became a figure rivaling Darío in importance. He was not a poet of the same stature, but, as a journalist and orator, Martí had no equal. He wrote perceptive sketches of American life (he spent many years in New York City) and numerous pieces for Latin American periodicals as well as for his own Patria, a newspaper he edited in New York. His Versos libres (“Free Verses”), published posthumously, and Versos sencillos (1891; “Simple Verses,” Eng. trans. Versos sencillos) were innovative, subtle, and powerful. Some stanzas of the brief, haiku-like “simple verses” have attained wide currency put to song in the popular "Guantanamera." His essay "Nuestra América" (1891; "Our America," Eng. trans. in Tres documentos de nuestra America [1979]) is a manifesto in favour of Latin American cultural and political independence.

The 20th century

The vanguardia
      Eventually the innovations of Modernismo became routine, and poets began to look elsewhere for ways to be original. The next important artistic movement in Latin America was the avant-garde, or the vanguardia, as it is known in Spanish. This movement reflected several European movements, especially Surrealism. It can be safely said that the repercussions of Surrealism in Latin America lasted throughout the 20th century. The Latin American variants were distinctive and rich and produced several masterworks not only in literature but also in the plastic arts, painting in particular. Modernismo had been a renovation of poetic form and techniques, extending to the use of free verse. But, on the whole, the experiments remained within accepted and traditional prosodic molds. The vanguardia, on the other hand, instituted a radical search for new, daring, confrontational themes and shockingly novel forms. These changes occurred at different paces in the various genres.

      The most daring and quick to adapt was poetry, clearly because it was aimed at a smaller, more sophisticated and receptive audience. During the first half of the 20th century, Latin American literature was blessed with many fine poets: Chileans Gabriela Mistral (Mistral, Gabriela), Vicente Huidobro (Huidobro, Vicente), Nicanor Parra (Parra, Nicanor), and Pablo Neruda; Mexican Octavio Paz; Cubans Nicolás Guillén and José Lezama Lima (Lezama Lima, José); Puerto Rican Luis Palés Matos; Argentines Jorge Luis Borges and Oliverio Girondo; and Nicaraguan Ernesto Cardenal. Gabriela Mistral (Mistral, Gabriela), Pablo Neruda (Neruda, Pablo), and Octavio Paz (Paz, Octavio) won Nobel Prizes. In the wake of Modernismo and against its by now worn innovations and aspirations, vanguardista poetry freed itself from prosodic constraints and the pursuit of sublime beauty, choosing instead to seek the poetic in the prosaic and to delve into the inner recesses of the self, no matter how dark. The premier poets of the whole group were Neruda and Paz, though cases can be made for Jorge Luis Borges (Borges, Jorge Luis) and José Lezama Lima (Lezama Lima, José).

      Neruda's Residencia en la Tierra (1925–35; Residence on Earth) set the tone. It is a torrent of poetry poured from a self untrammeled by decorum, using what appear to be Surrealist free-association techniques, flowing in a blank verse that nevertheless sounds more Shakespearean than anything else in its extravagant and fertile imagery. Sexual impulses are sometimes evident and sometimes lurk just beneath the surface, as metaphors pile upon each other with apparent disregard for order or limit. It is a poetry at times expressing the deep despair of city dwellers seeking a more direct contact with nature and the purer sources of life. Neruda was able to focus his poetic impulses after a political conversion brought about by the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). After this event, he sought a collective voice, less focused on the individual self and more attuned to the vast injustices of history, which he gives a biblical dimension requiring biblical punishments and atonements. All this led Neruda to his masterpiece, the Canto general (1950; Eng. trans. Canto General), an epic poem that encompasses the sweep of Latin American history from pre-Columbian times to the mid-20th century. It is a “General Song,” Whitman-like in scope and Americanist thematics, but precisely general, not a “song of myself.” Yet, the poetic voice of Neruda is the protagonist of this vast retelling (with commentary) of the various atrocities and injustices visited upon the downtrodden in Latin America. It is a poem oblivious to its weaknesses and to its moments of prosaic pamphleteering, which include a paean to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (Neruda had become a member of the Chilean Communist Party), and able to overcome them by its sheer poetic thrust, attaining the magnificence of such sections as “Alturas de Macchu Picchu” (“Heights of Machu Picchu”)—an ascent to the ancient Inca citadel that ranks with the greatest poetry of the Western canon, including that of Dante and John Milton (Milton, John). Toward the end of his career, the versatile Neruda turned to simple forms on simple topics—namely, his Odas elementales (1954; Elementary Odes), in which he sings the praises of an artichoke, wood, and the like.

      Paz was a much more cerebral poet, but he shared with Neruda an epic flair in poems such as Piedra de Sol (1957; Sun Stone) and also a penchant for erotic themes. Like Neruda, he too was a Republican activist during the Spanish Civil War, but the war experience turned him away from communism and all other political utopian movements. Paz's major poetic work is contained in the 1960 edition of Libertad bajo palabra (first published in 1949; “Freedom Under Parole”). The poems that appear in the 1960 edition are included in the English-language volume The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957–1987 (1987). In Piedra de Sol Paz ponders time, in terms of the Aztec calendar, and time's nemesis, love or eros, which seeks to perpetuate the fleeting moment in the ecstasy of pleasure but fails and falls to death. Paz was obsessed by the projection of the past into the present; thus he was fascinated by ruins, those of ancient Mexico and the Classical ruins in Sicily, where the Greco-Roman past seems to live (in, for example, "Himno entre ruinas" [“Hymn Among Ruins”]). But not even the hard stones can resist time's relentless passing, and the consolation of poetic beauty and love are transient. Paz has a Classical mind; the present repeats the past, and what seem to be obsolete forms reappear in new contexts. Greeks and Aztecs expressed the same yearnings. The present is the delusion of difference; everything is the same, only our individual consciousness is dissolved by death. Paz can often convey this feeling of melancholy in exquisite brief poems, such as "Certeza" (“Certainty”), and can also sustain it in longer compositions, such as "Entre lo que veo y digo" (“Between What I See and What I Say”). Both these poems appear in the Collected Poems mentioned above.

The modern novel
      In prose fiction the vanguardia did not arrive as quickly. The first step was a renovation of the novel but within accepted 19th-century Realist forms. The first novels to be considered modern—that is, contemporary—in Latin American fiction were those written during and about the Mexican Revolution (1910–20). While adhering to conventional forms, these novels presented an unsentimental, harsh, and action-packed world of wanton cruelty, with crisp plots in which the characters seem to be propelled by superior forces, as in Classical tragedy. The best and best-known by far was Los de abajo (1915; The Underdogs), by Mariano Azuela (Azuela, Mariano). While the Mexican Revolution as theme continued to dominate Mexican fiction for a good part of the 20th century, in the rest of Latin America there appeared a host of novels that came to be grouped under the rubric novelas de la tierra, or novela criollista (regionalist novels; “novels of local colour”). These novels were widely read and attained some international recognition. The most notable were three by authors who acquired prominent places in Latin American literary history: Don Segundo Sombra (1926; Don Segundo Sombra) by the Argentine Ricardo Güiraldes (Güiraldes, Ricardo), Doña Bárbara (1929; Doña Bárbara) by the Venezuelan Rómulo Gallegos (Gallegos, Rómulo), and La vorágine (1924; The Vortex) by the Colombian José Eustasio Rivera (Rivera, José Eustasio). All three are set in rural contexts and depict man's struggle to tame nature and make it subservient and bountiful. Each, as is the case with other contemporary novels published in various Latin American countries, describes toil within a given national industry: Doña Bárbara and Don Segundo Sombra depict cattle ranching in the Venezuelan and Argentine plains (the llano and the pampa, respectively), and La vorágine describes rubber prospecting in the Colombian jungle. The mighty struggle against nature reaches transcendental proportions and in all cases approaches allegory and myth: man against nature, civilization against barbarism, good against evil. These are powerful novels, with memorable characters, such as the old gaucho Don Segundo Sombra and the alluring and controlling Doña Bárbara, the “Devourer of Men.” In La vorágine the jungle, a relentless, merciless force, is the protagonist. The regionalist novel dramatized the Latin American quest to define its culture as deriving from yet antagonistic to the continent's natural forces. This productive and dramatic contradiction made the novela de la tierra the literary tradition within which and counter to which new novelistic projects were measured.

      A complementary tradition, attuned to the rebelliousness, skepticism, and contentiousness of the avant-garde, emerged mostly in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, and its leader was Jorge Luis Borges (Borges, Jorge Luis). Whereas the regionalist novel aspired to give a direct, unmediated version of Latin American reality, Borges furnished one that was avowedly bookish and thus derived from the Western tradition. Borges saw in gaucho tales the repetition of Greek and biblical myths—not fresh stories from a new world but reiterations of the same old world. He mastered the tale based on apocryphal references and sources and programmatically rejected long fiction, declaring that some novels are as boring as life itself. His first collection of short stories was Historia universal de la infamia (1935; A Universal History of Infamy), in which he began to experiment with apocryphal attributions and bogus bibliographies. Deceptively simple, the stories are about adventuresome and variously criminal protagonists, crime and villainy being a constant in Borges's fiction. But Borges's decisive collection was Ficciones (1944; English trans. Ficciones), which contains some of his classics, such as "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," "La muerte y la brújula" (“Death and the Compass”), and "Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote" (“Pierre Menard, Author of the Quijote”). These are texts that so unsettle the norms of realist fiction from within that they made regionalist novels appear obsolete. In fact, in "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" he seems to parody the procedures of the regionalist novel by inventing a country—as, Borges would claim, regionalist novelists themselves really did, despite their disingenuous claims of faithfully reflecting reality. In any case, by 1944 regionalist fiction was retreating. Avant-garde narrative forms, some drawn from sources belonging to African or Indian cultures, began to prevail.

      One of the main impulses of the avant-garde in all the arts was to incorporate indigenous and African artistic traditions into the mainstream of Latin American life. In painting, this trend led to Mexican mural paintings. In literature, it meant recovering African or Indian stories and either retelling them in Spanish or weaving them into larger narratives. In 1930 the Guatemalan Miguel Ángel Asturias (Asturias, Miguel Ángel) published in Paris his Leyendas de Guatemala (“Legends of Guatemala”), in which he retold Maya stories drawn from the oral tradition of his country. The Cuban Lydia Cabrera (Cabrera, Lydia) brought out her Cuentos negros de Cuba (1940; “African Stories from Cuba”). These were but two of the many narrative projects in this vein. Larger projects, such as the Ecuadorean Jorge Icaza (Icaza, Jorge)'s Huasipungo (1934; Huasipungo: The Villagers), had a more decidedly political edge, depicting the Indians as victims of brutal oppression and economic exploitation. The regionalist and vanguardista trends merge more successfully in two landmark Latin American novels that inaugurated what has come to be known as “ magic realism”: Asturias's El señor presidente (1946; The President) and Alejo Carpentier (Carpentier, Alejo)'s El reino de este mundo (1949; The Kingdom of This World). Asturias's novel, about the dictatorship of Manuel Estrada Cabrera (Estrada Cabrera, Manuel) in Guatemala, employs Surrealist techniques to create an aura of fear and the sense that events are guided by supernatural forces, echoing Native American beliefs. Carpentier writes about Haiti from 1750 to 1820, including the Haitian revolution at the end of the 18th century, which was carried out by slaves in commerce with, the novel relates, the supernatural forces of nature harnessed by their leaders. Instances of the fantastic occur and are believed to be real by the slaves. Magic realism consists in the depiction of the fantastic from the point of view of those who, whether their religion be Roman Catholic or some doctrine of indigenous or African origin, accept as true the extranatural aspects of their faith in the context of a narrative that is otherwise realistic according to traditional standards. In 1955 Carpentier published an influential collection of stories that he had written in the 1940s and early 1950s, Guerra del tiempo (War of Time), a work that is the quintessential expression of magic realism. Asturias and Carpentier, who thus successfully combined regionalist and avant-garde trends, are the bridge to the new Latin American novel of the 1960s and '70s, the years of the so-called “boom” of the Latin American novel.

      Another transitional figure was the Mexican Juan Rulfo (Rulfo, Juan), but his work is of such high quality that it would unfair to confine him to that limited role. The short stories in his collection El llano en llamas (1953; “The Plain in Flames,” Eng. trans. in The Burning Plain and Other Stories) and his novel, Pedro Páramo (1955; Eng. trans. Pedro Páramo), are among the best works of fiction ever published in Latin America. Rulfo's rural characters live in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, the victims of those who had presumably fought to save them. In the stories, laconic narrators tell about their stark, violent lives, reduced to dramatic situations so primal that they approximate myths. Pedro Páramo is a brief masterpiece about the lives affected by a despotic country chieftain whose money and power are not enough to satisfy his boundless ambitions. The story is told by multiple narrators, some of whom speak from their graves, and it is redolent with violence, unbridled lust, and incest. It is like a small-scale Inferno, presented through techniques such as stream of consciousness, flashbacks, and the employment of various narrators whose voices are sometimes difficult to identify. Rulfo was such a perfectionist that, in addition to a collection of film scripts, he published only these two books, which secured his place in Latin American literary history.

      During the second half of the 20th century, the poets Pablo Neruda (Chile) and Octavio Paz (Mexico) and the novelists Miguel Ángel Asturias (Guatemala) and Gabriel García Márquez (García Márquez, Gabriel) (Colombia) received Nobel Prizes. Argentine Jorge Luis Borges was widely accepted as a modern classic; Cuba's Alejo Carpentier and novelists Juan Rulfo (Mexico) and João Guimarães Rosa (Guimarães Rosa, João) (Brazil) were also internationally recognized. But the boom involved chiefly García Márquez, Argentina's Julio Cortázar (Cortázar, Julio), the Mexican Carlos Fuentes (Fuentes, Carlos), and the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa (Vargas Llosa, Mario), to whom could also be added the Uruguayan Juan Carlos Onetti (Onetti, Juan Carlos), the Chilean José Donoso (Donoso, José), and the Cubans José Lezama Lima and Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Cabrera Infante, Guillermo). The common feature of the novels produced by these writers was the adoption of the style and techniques of the modern European and American novel—that is to say, the works of Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway. Stream of consciousness, multiple and unreliable narrators, fragmented plots, interwoven stories, a strong influence of the cinema, and other modern techniques, ignored by the regionalist novelists, were now adopted and adapted to Latin American themes, stories, and situations. The new techniques and styles gave these novels a poetic aura that had been generally absent from Latin American prose fiction, save for the short stories. Another element that had hitherto been relatively infrequent was humour, which appeared particularly in works by Cortázar, García Márquez, and Cabrera Infante; yet another was a frankness in sexual themes, heretofore rare in Latin American literature.

The “boom” novels
      Among the works that brought recognition to these writers and that are now considered the epicentre of the boom is Cien años de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude), by García Márquez, a world-class masterpiece that has entered the canon of Western literature. This novel tells the story of Macondo, a small town in the jungle, from its foundation to its being razed by a hurricane a century later. A second novel central to the boom is Rayuela (1963; Hopscotch), by Cortázar. The first of the boom novels to acquire international recognition, it follows the antics and adventures of an Argentine bohemian exiled in Paris and his return to Buenos Aires. La muerte de Artemio Cruz (1962; The Death of Artemio Cruz), by Fuentes, revisits the theme of the Mexican Revolution, exploring its aftermath of corruption and power struggles among the revolutionaries. La ciudad y los perros (1963; The Time of the Hero), by Vargas Llosa, won the prestigious Seix Barral Prize in Spain and centres on the brutal life of cadets in a military school. Among other important novels of the period are Onetti's El astillero (1961; The Shipyard), a dark tale about a pimp with ambitions; Coronación (1962; Coronation) by Donoso, a sardonic chronicle of the Chilean middle to upper-middle class; Tres tristes tigres (1967; Three Trapped Tigers), by Cabrera Infante, a hilariously funny yet sombre portrayal of Havana on the eve of the Cuban Revolution; and Lezama Lima's Paradiso (1966; Paradiso), a deeply poetic novel of education that created a scandal because of its homoerotic thematics. Some of these works have not aged well, and, in the cases of Fuentes, Vargas Llosa, and Donoso, later novels turned out to be better or more significant. Fuentes's Terra Nostra (1975; Terra Nostra), for instance, is more ambitious than anything else that he has written; Donoso's El obsceno pájaro de la noche (1970; The Obscene Bird of Night) is more daring than his earlier or later fiction; and Vargas Llosa's La guerra del fin del mundo (1981; The War of the End of the World) is of epic proportions and ambitions. In fact, Vargas Llosa's and Fuentes's production after the boom was on the whole considerably better than their earlier work.

      Close on the heels of the boom writers were an Argentine and a Cuban whose innovations and originality differed but whose themes were similar: Manuel Puig (Puig, Manuel) and Severo Sarduy (Sarduy, Severo), respectively. Puig and Sarduy dealt often, though not exclusively, with the most taboo of topics in Latin America: homosexuality. Puig, whose use of popular culture (film, song, serial novels) was masterful, published a series of excellent works beginning with La traición de Rita Hayworth (1968; Betrayed by Rita Hayworth). His best work was probably El beso de la mujer araña (1976; The Kiss of the Spider Woman), a masterpiece that became a widely acclaimed film. In it, a political activist and a gay man share a cell in an Argentine jail and come to know each other by talking about movies. It is a profoundly touching novel in dialogue that makes powerful statements about Latin American culture. More theoretically inclined than Puig, Sarduy—who lived in exile in Paris and was involved with the Structuralist group Tel Quel, active there in the 1960s and '70s—wrote less-accessible novels whose protagonists were often transvestites. Tightly woven and written in an elaborate yet playful prose, Sarduy's works such as De donde son los cantantes (1967; From Cuba with a Song), Cobra (1972; Eng. trans. Cobra), and Maitreya (1978; Eng. trans. Maitreya) are books of exquisite, disturbing beauty, written with a sense of global doom. A third writer, younger than Puig and Sarduy, who made an original contribution was the Cuban Miguel Barnet (Barnet, Miguel), whose Biografía de un cimarrón (1966; Biography of a Runaway Slave) began an entire narrative trend: the so-called “testimonial narrative.” In these books, a writer interviews a person from a marginal social group and transcribes the result in the first person. Many such books were produced, but none attained the well-deserved acclaim of Barnet's transcription of the centenarian former slave and Maroon Esteban Montejo.

“Post-boom” writers
      In the 1980s and '90s—a period that some have called the “post-boom”—the major novelists who had made a name for themselves in the 1960s continued to publish works of considerable value. In fact, with the early deaths of Puig and Sarduy, they encountered no young rivals of their quality. Fuentes, for instance, published La campaña (1990; The Campaign), an excellent novel about the independence period in Latin America, and Vargas Llosa wrote La fiesta del chivo (2000; The Feast of the Goat), dealing with Rafael Trujillo (Trujillo, Rafael)'s dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Both are remarkable not only because of their literary quality but also because their authors ventured beyond their own countries (Mexico and Peru, respectively) to find their historical themes. García Márquez, on the other hand, returned to a favourite topic in his Del amor y otros demonios (1994; Of Love and Other Demons), but his most unexpected turn was back to journalism, his original profession, with his Noticia de un secuestro (1996; News of a Kidnapping), a chronicle about a kidnapping in a troubled Colombia beset by drug and guerrilla wars.

      The most significant literary development in the last 20 years of the 20th century was the emergence of a host of recognized women writers, mostly novelists. Chilean Isabel Allende (Allende, Isabel) found a niche, particularly in Europe, and her La casa de los espíritus (1982; The House of Spirits) was widely acclaimed, though it closely resembles García Márquez's Cien años de soledad in the magical world it describes and even in the sound of the prose. Argentine Luisa Valenzuela had some success, though more abroad than at home, with the exception of her Novela negra con argentinos (1990; Black Novel with Argentines). Chilean Diamela Eltit found a following mostly among academic critics for her highly experimental fiction. Her most discussed novel is Lumpérica (1983; E. Luminata); it is a text laden with stylistic games and a vague plot. With Puerto Ricans Ana Lydia Vega and Rosario Ferré (Ferré, Rosario), Eltit became part of an established group of women Latin American writers who were quickly accepted into the Latin American canon.

      Younger women novelists such as Cubans Mayra Montero (settled in Puerto Rico), Daína Chaviano (Chaviano, Daína) (settled in Miami), and Zoé Valdés (settled in France) and Mexican Angeles Mastretta outstripped their predecessors in originality and independence. In fact, at the turn of the 21st century, Cuban women writers in exile were highly popular in Latin America, Spain, and other parts of Europe. Chaviano won an important award in Spain. Montero, Valdés, and Chaviano shared a common preference for sexual themes as such (as opposed to “gender issues”). They dealt with sexuality without guilt or reticence (while straightforwardly denouncing the many sexual biases remaining in Cuba and elsewhere). In fact, were it not for the humour and irony invested in their works, Montero and Valdés might be viewed as pornographers, presenting heterosexual feminine desires, fantasies, and practices in a fashion previously limited to male authors. La última noche que pasé contigo (1991; The Last Night I Spent with You) is Montero's best-known novel. Its hilarious plot involves couples who meet during a Caribbean cruise. Chaviano's El hombre la hembra y el hambre (1998; “Man, Woman, and Hunger”) is about a young woman in contemporary Cuba who works as a prostitute to support herself. She lives a double life whose parallel tracks converge in a surprise ending. Mastretta's very successful Arráncame la vida (1985; Mexican Bolero) ironically revisits the most hallowed theme of 20th-century Mexican fiction: the Revolution (Mexican Revolution). But Mastretta portrays revolutionary Mexico from a woman's perspective, which gives the whole process a subtly ironic twist that sometimes turns into outright humour. Montero's and Mastretta's titles are drawn from popular songs, not just to follow the trend started by others such as Sarduy, Barnet, and Puig but to mock the melodramatic, teary tone of Latin American romantic music, always about men's woes in their relationships with women. Though none of these works is of the literary quality of those by Vargas Llosa, Fuentes, or García Márquez, they are far from negligible, and they constituted a discernible trend as the 21st century neared.

The modern essay
      All of this literary production was accompanied by a strong essayistic tradition whose main topic was the distinctiveness of Latin American culture and, within that culture, the individual cultures of the various countries. Many of the poets and fiction writers mentioned before also wrote essays in this vein: Carpentier, Paz, Borges, Lezama Lima, and Sarduy, for example. But there were writers whose chief production was the essay: the Uruguayan José Enrique Rodó (Rodó, José Enrique), the Peruvian José Carlos Mariátegui (Mariátegui, José Carlos), the Mexicans José Vasconcelos (Vasconcelos, José) and Alfonso Reyes (Reyes, Alfonso), the Dominican Pedro Henríquez Ureña (Henríquez Ureña, Pedro), the Venezuelan Mariano Picón Salas, the Cuban Fernando Ortiz (Ortiz, Fernando), the Argentine Ezequiel Martínez Estrada (Martínez Estrada, Ezequiel), the Puerto Rican Antonio Pedreira, and the Colombian Germán Arciniegas (Arciniegas, Germán). In many cases the issue was how to incorporate marginal cultures (African, Indian) within Latin America into the mainstream culture of the area and of each individual country. The most important and influential of these essays was Ariel (1900; Ariel) by Rodó. In the wake of Spain's humiliating defeat by the United States in the Spanish American War (Spanish-American War), Rodó muses about the differences between the cultures of North and South America. In reply to Sarmiento's glorification of North American culture, Rodó calls for adherence to the spiritual, artistic values of Latin American culture, against the pragmatism and utilitarianism of the great new power to the north. His essay had such a positive reception that “Ariel clubs” were founded in various Latin American countries. Most of the essayistic tradition either followed Rodó or argued against him. In the 1920s Mariátegui proposed a Marxist interpretation of Peruvian society and culture in his 7 ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana (1928; Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality). Written in a lively style and surprisingly devoid of cant, Mariátegui's essay argued in favour of an alliance between the political and artistic avant-gardes. A more scholarly approach was that of Ureña, whose elegant and profound Seis ensayos en busca de nuestra expresión (1928; “Six Essays in Search of Our Mode of Expression”) provides a broad-ranging interpretation of Latin American culture going back to colonial times. In a similar vein, Mariano Picón Salas published in 1944 his De la conquista a la independencia: tres siglos de historia cultural hispanoamericana (A Cultural History of Spanish America, from Conquest to Independence). These essays were incorporated into the curricula of universities throughout the world. At midcentury a powerful essay by the Mexican poet Octavio Paz, El laberinto de la soledad (1950; The Labyrinth of Solitude), offered an existentialist and psychoanalytic interpretation of Mexican culture. It had an enormous influence on Mexican fiction and poetry and was imitated by Latin American essayists elsewhere.

      At the turn of the 21st century, Latin America literature seemed to be shifting from the modern to the postmodern. The line of demarcation is not clear. Postmodern literature avails itself of most of the techniques introduced by modern literature, particularly self-consciousness of its own status as literature. The difference, perhaps, is that postmodern literature does not aspire to be profound or pretend that it can make momentous pronouncements about the self, society, the nation, or humankind. The playful element of modern literature has prevailed, a move toward lightness. In Latin America this has meant moving away from the thematics of cultural identity that dominated modern literature and going back to the Romantics. Fiction was dispersed, disseminated among characters of shifting sexuality who did not make up conventional family groups. In the plots of these novels serendipity seems to rule. The herald of postmodern change had been Severo Sarduy. No writer of his stature or that of his predecessors (Borges, Cortázar, García Márquez, etc.) emerged to solidify this tendency. The most significant statement on postmodernism itself was provided by Cuban exile novelist, short-story writer, and essayist Antonio Benítez Rojo (Benítez Rojo, Antonio) (1931), published in his La isla que se repite: el Caribe y la perspectiva postmoderna (1989; The Repeating Island), a worthy successor to the essayistic tradition sketched before.

Roberto González Echevarría

Additional Reading

General histories and reference works
A translation of the standard reliable history, with somewhat dated value judgments, is Enrique Anderson-Imbert, Spanish-American Literature: A History, 2nd ed., rev., updated, and trans. by Elaine Malley, 2 vol., (1969; originally published in Spanish, 6th ed., 1967). Paula H. Covington (ed.), Latin America and the Caribbean: A Critical Guide to Research Sources (1992), is an excellent introduction to the field with valuable bibliographies. Roberto González Echevarría and Enrique Pupo-Walker (eds.), The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature, 3 vol. (1996), covers the sweep of Latin American literature from pre-Columbian times to the present, including Brazil (vol. 3), and gives ample general and specialized bibliographies. William Luis (ed.), Modern Latin-American Fiction Writers: First Series (1992), vol. 113 of the Dictionary of Literary Biography, has well-written life-and-works essays, with reliable bibliographies, on major and minor authors. Carlos A. Solé and Maria Isabel Abreu (eds.), Latin American Writers, 3 vol. (1989), is well-edited, with generally good essays on authors from colonial times to the present.

Roberto González Echevarría (ed.), The Oxford Book of Latin American Short Stories, trans. from Spanish (1997, reissued 1999), has stories from pre-Columbian times to the present, includes Brazil, and has a general introduction, headnotes on each author, and a bibliography. Lively introductions are included in Emir Rodríguez Monegal and Thomas Colchie (eds.), The Borzoi Anthology of Latin American Literature, 2 vol. (1977), and its coverage of the 20th century (vol. 2) is particularly good. Stephen Tapscott (ed.), Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology (1996), is a superb collection covering the late 19th to the late 20th century, including both Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese poetry, and it has excellent bibliographies, introductions, and indexes.

The colonial period
Rolena Adorno, Guaman Poma: Writing and Resistance in Colonial Peru, 2nd ed. (2000), is incisive on Guamán Poma with observations applicable to other colonial historians. Electa Arenal and Stacey Schlau, Untold Sisters: Hispanic Nuns in Their Own Works (1989), is well-researched and nicely introduces writing by colonial nuns. Roberto González Echevarría, Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative (1990, reissued 1998), has a chapter on legal rhetoric and chronicles of the discovery and conquest, and Celestina's Brood: Continuities of the Baroque in Spanish and Latin American Literatures (1993) has chapters on the colonial Baroque. An overview of writing by women in the colonial period appears in Julie Greer Johnson, Women in Colonial Spanish American Literature: Literary Images (1983). Irving A. Leonard, Books of the Brave: Being an Account of Books and of Men in the Spanish Conquest and Settlement of the Sixteenth-Century New World (1949, reissued 1992), is a classic on what was read in colonial Latin America, and Baroque Times in Old Mexico: Seventeenth-Century Persons, Places, and Practices (1959, reprinted 1981) is still the best introduction to the colonial Baroque.Roberto González Echevarría

The 18th century
A good primary source is José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, The Itching Parrot, trans. by Eugene Pressly and ed. by Katherine Anne Porter (1942; originally published in Spanish, 1816).Wide-ranging but dated treatments of the Spanish American Enlightenment are Arthur P. Whitaker (ed.), Latin America and the Enlightenment, 2nd ed. (1961, reissued 1969); and A. Owen Aldridge (ed.), The Ibero-American Enlightenment (1971). An introduction to the dissemination of Enlightenment thought by seminaries and universities in 18th-century Spanish America is provided by John Tate Lanning, The Eighteenth-Century Enlightenment in the University of San Carlos de Guatemala (1956).A brief analysis of Vela's Apostolado en las Indias in the context of Spanish theatre is Bernardita Llanos, “Images of America in Eighteenth-Century Spanish Comedy,” in René Jara and Nicholas Spadaccini (eds.), Amerindian Images and the Legacy of Columbus (1992), pp. 565–583. Important insights into the works and ideologies of Espejo and Carrió are in Julie Greer Johnson, Satire in Colonial Spanish America: Turning the New World Upside Down (1993). A study with an up-to-date bibliography on Eguiara and Landívar and original insights into their works is Antony Higgins, Constructing the Criollo Archive: Subjects of Knowledge in the Bibliotheca Mexicana and the Rusticatio Mexicana (2000). Other books of interest are Ruth Hill, Sceptres and Sciences in the Spains: Four Humanists and the New Philosophy (ca. 1680–1740) (2000); and Francisco Javier Cevallos-Candau et al. (eds.), Coded Encounters: Writing, Gender, and Ethnicity in Colonial Latin America (1994).Ruth Hill

Romanticism to Modernismo
Antonio Cussen, Bello and Bolívar: Poetry and Politics in the Spanish American Revolution (1992), is authoritative on Bello's classicism and Bolívar's thought. Aníbal González, Journalism and the Development of Spanish American Narrative (1993), is brilliant on the development of 19th-century narrative in relation to journalism and also covers the 20th century. Roberto González Echevarría, Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative (1990, reissued 1998), has a chapter on travel literature and 19th-century narrative, particularly Sarmiento's. Tulio Halperín Donghi et al., Sarmiento, Author of a Nation (1994), is a collection of essays of uneven value on most aspects of Sarmiento's writings. Cathy Login Jrade, Modernismo, Modernity, and the Development of Spanish American Literature (1998), is an excellent study of Modernismo and its legacy. Vera M. Kutzinski, Sugar's Secrets: Race and the Erotics of Cuban Nationalism (1993), is an insightful exploration of the representation in 19th-century Cuban literature of sexual relations among members of different races and classes.William Luis, Literary Bondage: Slavery in Cuban Narrative (1990), has important chapters on 19th-century antislavery narratives. Another incisive treatment of 19th-century Cuban literature is Doris Sommer, Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America (1991, reprinted 1993), which discusses the link between narrative and family structure in early Latin American narratives.

Poetry from the vanguardias to the present
A volume that is good on the transition from Modernismo to the vanguardias is Gwen Kirkpatrick, The Dissonant Legacy of Modernismo: Lugones, Herrera y Reissig, and the Voices of Modern Spanish American Poetry (1989). Vicky Unruh, Latin American Vanguards: The Art of Contentious Encounters (1994), is comprehensive and authoritative on the various avant-garde movements and their manifestos.

The modern novel
The best study of regionalist fiction is Carlos J. Alonso, The Spanish American Regional Novel: Modernity and Autochthony (1990). Salvador Bacarisse (ed.), Contemporary Latin American Fiction: Carpentier, Sabato, Onetti, Roa, Donoso, Fuentes, García Márquez (1980), has some good essays on major figures. Harold Bloom (ed.), Modern Latin American Fiction (1990), is an excellent collection of essays by reputable critics. A good reference work is John S. Brushwood, The Spanish American Novel: A Twentieth-Century Survey (1975). Roberto González Echevarría, Alejo Carpentier: The Pilgrim at Home (1977, reissued 1990), covers Carpentier's entire oeuvre and discusses other writers, the Afro-Cuban movement, and magic realism; The Voice of the Masters: Writing and Authority in Modern Latin American Literature (1985, reissued 1988) has chapters on Gallegos, Cortázar, Carpentier, Fuentes, and Cabrera Infante; and Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative (1990, reissued 1998) has a chapter on anthropology and modern Latin American fiction. An influential collection of interviews with major writers exists in Luis Harss and Barbara Dohmann, Into the Mainstream: Conversations with Latin-American Writers (1967, reissued 1969). William Luis (ed.), Voices from Under: Black Narrative in Latin America and the Caribbean (1984), is a good discussion of blacks in literature and of literature by blacks. Useful essays on late 20th-century fiction appear in Raymond Leslie Williams (ed.), The Novel in the Americas (1992). Raymond Leslie Williams, The Postmodern Novel in Latin America: Politics, Culture, and the Crisis of Truth (1995, reissued 1997), has discussion by regions (Andean, Southern Cone, Caribbean), including late 20th-century novels.

The modern essay
An authoritative and well-written work on the early modern essay is William Rex Crawford, A Century of Latin American Thought, rev. ed. (1961, reissued 1967). Harold Eugene Davis, Latin American Thought: A Historical Introduction (1972, reissued 1974), is a good overview by a historian. Roberto González Echevarría, The Voice of the Masters: Writing and Authority in Modern Latin American Literature (1985, reprinted 1988), has a long essay on Ariel and the modern essayistic tradition. The standard work on the modern essay up to the mid-20th century is Martin S. Stabb, In Quest of Identity: Patterns in the Spanish American Essay of Ideas, 1890–1960 (1967).Roberto González Echevarría

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  • Latin-American — adjective of or relating to the countries of Latin America or their people (Freq. 3) Latin American countries Latin American music • Pertains to noun: ↑Latin America • Derivationally related forms: ↑Latin America * * * | ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷  …   Useful english dictionary

  • Latin American studies — (LAS) is an academic discipline dealing with the study of Latin America and Latin Americans. Definition Latin American studies critically examines the history, culture, politics, and experiences of Latin Americans in Latin America and often also… …   Wikipedia

  • Native American literature — Introduction also called  Indian literature  or  American Indian literature        the traditional oral and written literatures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. These include ancient hieroglyphic and pictographic writings of Middle… …   Universalium

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