The Twentieth-Century Spanish American Novel

The Twentieth-Century Spanish American Novel

The Twentieth-Century Spanish American Novel

The Twentieth-Century Spanish American Novel

Excerpt

In 1966, Octavio Paz wrote that since the nineteenth century, the Latin American writer desired to be modern: “Modernity has been our style for a century. It's the universal style. To want to be modern seems crazy: we are condemned to be modern, since we are prohibited from the past and the future.” Indeed, several generations of Latin American writers since the late nineteenth century have exhibited their urgent desire to be modern, to participate in modernity. This postromantic desire assumed numerous guises and variations for Latin American writers over the twentieth century.

From the work of Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío at the turn of the century to that of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges and Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, as well as among the younger writers of today, the idea of being modern often has taken some form of cosmopolitanism. For the poet Darío and his cohorts, this cosmopolitanism meant being simultaneously very Latin American and very French. For Borges, it meant trips to Madrid and Paris in the 1920s, bringing the innovations of ultraísmo to Argentina and a transatlantic dialogue with writers across the continents and across the centuries. For Fuentes, being modern and cosmopolitan has meant not only residing in the major cities of Latin America, Europe, and the United States most of his adult life but also assuming the innovations of European modernism and fully accepting his multicultural heritage from Latin America, Spain, and France. For postmodern writers such as the Chilean Diamela Eltit and the Argentine Ricardo Piglia, being modern has meant participating in a transnational cultural life and literary . . .

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