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The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature

Book description

The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature is by far the most comprehensive work of its kind ever written. Its three volumes cover the whole sweep of Latin American literature (including Brazilian) from pre-Columbian times to the present, and contain chapters on Latin American writing in the USA. Over forty specialists in North America, Latin America and Britain have contributed to what is not only the most reliable, up-to-date, and convenient reference work on its subject, but also a set of books containing innovative approaches and fresh research that will expand and animate the field for years to come. The History is unique in its thorough coverage of previously neglected areas, in its detailed discussion of countless writers in various genres, and in its inclusion of extensive annotated bibliographies.Volume 1 begins with pre-Columbian traditions and their first contact with European culture, continuing through to the end of the nineteenth century. New World historiography, epic poetry, theatre, the novel, and the essay form are among the areas covered in this comprehensive and authoritative treatment.

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  • 1 - A brief history of the history of Spanish American Literature
    pp 7-32
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521340694.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Histories, manuals, critical essays, and anthologies are the narrative forms through which literary history is expressed. Literary history is a narrative form born in the period between the Enlightenment and Romanticism. The individuality, the difference at the origin postulated by Romanticism, transforms the distance that separates Europe from America into an enabling factor in Spanish American literary creation, one that serves as its pre-text or as its foundational myth. In the philological tradition, literary history originated with an epic song, which expressed the birth of a language and a literature that began in the popular, oral tradition. The origin of a Spanish American literary tradition could well have been medieval or renaissance Spanish literature. Works of the colonial period were problematic because the era in which they emerged belonged to the Spanish past that Independence had attempted to eradicate.
  • 2 - Cultures in contact: Mesoamerica, the Andes, and the European written tradition
    pp 33-57
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521340694.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The range of texts and traditions corresponds ultimately to the interpretive responses made by native American cultures to life under colonialism. It is impossible to consider native traditions in colonial times without taking into account the interaction of indigenous American elites with the European clergy. This chapter describes the colonial native cultural traditions of four geographical-cultural areas: the Nahua of Central Mexico, the Yucatec Maya of the lowland Maya area, the Quiché Maya of the Maya highlands, and the Quechua of the South American Andes. The richest and most varied of the written traditions under consideration is that of the Nahuatl-speaking peoples of Central Mexico. The colonial Quechua-language tradition of the Andes stands in apparent contrast to the Nahua and Maya traditions of Mesoamerica, insofar as the existence of a Quechua notarial or scribal tradition and written texts produced by monolingual Quechua speakers is concerned.
  • 3 - The first fifty years of Hispanic New World historiography: the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America
    pp 58-100
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521340694.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Within fifty years of Christopher Columbus's landing, the sedentary areas of Latin America had been conquered by Spain, inaugurating its Golden Age. Sieges of the new-found lands took on epic dimensions and reaped victories of monumental importance for the Spanish church and state. The Spanish soldiers themselves were said to rival the ancient Romans for their loyalty and heroism in conquest as time and again the few vanquished the many. This chapter focuses on the first wave of conquests in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. However, this larger tissue of Spanish victories, heroism and loyalty was woven in significant ways of failures and transgressions. The chapter analyzes the invention of America and other issues in the context of representative works which, in our estimation, hold the greatest cultural and textual interest. These include the works of Christopher Columbus, Fray Ramόn Pané, Hernán Cortés, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, and Bartolomé de las Casas.
  • 4 - Historians of the conquest and colonization of the New World: 1550–1620
    pp 101-142
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521340694.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The most challenging aspect of the writing of these years is accounting for the emergence of writers whose very existence was owned to the Conquest. Historians such as Bartolome de Las Casas, Francisco Lόpez de Gόmara, Bernardino de Sahagún, and José de Acosta continued the work of "naming" America and its inhabitants for European readers. Pedro Cieza de Leόn, Agustίn de Zárate and Ruy Dίaz de Guzmán chronicled the expansion of Western Empire into Peru, Chile, and Argentina. The first Andean writers maintained a closer connection to their Indian past and present, and their writing provides people with a testimony of colonization in the Andean region more autochthonous in character than that of New Spain. From Juan Suárez de Peralta, Fernando Alvarado Tezozomoc, and Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxόchitl come other voices, those of the descendants of both Spanish and Aztec nobility.
  • 5 - Historians of the colonial period: 1620–1700
    pp 143-190
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521340694.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Historiography of the seventeenth century reflected many of the patterns of historical writing developed during the earlier age of discovery and conquest. The principal historians of the sixteenth century worked with fundamental models of historical expression that survived well into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Pedro Fernández de Pulgar was probably the most stridently nationalistic of the seventeenth-century Chroniclers of the Indies. Missionaries of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries compiled, by a wide margin, the largest body of historical writing in the colonies. Religious historians generally represented one of the five great orders: the Franciscans; the Dominicans; the Augustinians; the Mercedarians; and the Jesuits. El Carnero is highly representative of a tendency in seventeenth-century Spanish American historiography toward greater complexity and an increased sense of irony toward events, institutions, laws, and traditions that shaped the colonial experience.
  • 6 - Colonial lyric
    pp 191-230
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521340694.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Spain occupied the New World as the Spanish language was undergoing its last significant linguistic revolution and Spanish poetry its most profound and lasting change. Changes in poetry meant more often than not an uneasy coexistence of medieval and renaissance ideas and practices. The resiliency of the Medieval is one of the elements that led, in due time, to the style that characterizes colonial lyric, which is the Baroque. Garcilaso de la Vega's poetry is the dividing line between medieval and modern lyric in Spanish. The colonial lyric is not an array of forgotten poetic forms only preserved in histories of literature, but is still the dynamic origin of modern Latin American poetry. Distinctive, even original, lyric poetry really began in the New World at the end of the sixteenth century and beginning of the seventeenth, in what has been called the "Barroco de Indias".