The Latin American Intellect
Reyes, Alfonso, UNESCO Courier
The Mexican writer Alfonso Reyes, a passionate humanist, historian, poet and critic, was one of the leading Latin American thinkers of the first half of the twentieth century. He was among the first intellectuals of Latin America to take an active interest in the International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation. The text published below consists of extracts from Reyes' opening address at a meeting entitled "Europe-Latin America" that was organized by the Institute and held in Buenos Aires from 11 to 16 September 1936. In it he brilliantly defines the distinctive nature of Latin American culture and its place in the world.
This is not the place to talk about Latin American civilization: that would lead us off into the field of archaeology, which is outside our subject. To speak of Latin American culture would be somewhat ambiguous: it would make us think only of one of the branches of the European tree, transplanted into the soil of the Americas. We may, however, speak of a Latin American intellect, its outlook on life and its impact on life. This will enable us to define, albeit tentatively, the subtle gradation that is specifically Latin American.
A DIFFERENT TEMPO
Our drama has a stage, a chorus and a protagonist.
By stage I mean not a space but rather a time, in the almost musical sense of tempo or rhythm. A latecomer at the banquet of European civilization, Latin America made up for lost time by cutting corners, quickening the pace, hurrying from one form to another without giving the previous form time enough to mature. The leap is sometimes a bold one, and the new form comes out, as it were, half-baked. Tradition weighed less heavily, which explains the boldness. But the question needs to be asked as to …
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Publication information: Article title: The Latin American Intellect. Contributors: Reyes, Alfonso - Author. Magazine title: UNESCO Courier. Publication date: May 1995. Page number: 44+. © 1984 UNESCO. COPYRIGHT 1995 Gale Group.
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