The Adventures of Don Chipote, or, When Parrots Breast-Feed

The Adventures of Don Chipote, or, When Parrots Breast-Feed

The Adventures of Don Chipote, or, When Parrots Breast-Feed

The Adventures of Don Chipote, or, When Parrots Breast-Feed

Synopsis

Fiction. Latino/Latina Studies. Daniel Venegas's novel -- first published in Los Angeles in 1928, and long lost to the public -- portrays, with wit tempered by empathy, the harsher aspects of America during the fabled Jazz Age. With bawdy humor and razor-sharp insight, THE ADVENTURES OF DON CHIPOTE relates the hapless journey of the poor rural farmer Don Chipote de Jesus Maria Dominguez, who naively leaves behind his wife and children in Mexico to seek riches in the United States -- where, he is assured, one can sweep up gold dust from the streets and suck the nectar from the tree of life. The author's earthy satire is faithfully rendered by translator Ethriam Cash Brammer; edited and introduced by Nicolas Kanellos.

Excerpt

The Adventures of Don Chipote, or, When Parrots Breast-Feed, first published by Los Angeles’ Spanish-language daily newspaper El heraldo de México in 1928, must have represented an heroic effort to validate the life and experiences of Mexican immigrant workers in the United States at that time. For us today, Daniel Venegas’ novel is one of the few vestiges of the creativity and social and political identity of “Chicanos” in the early twentieth century. No other document has been found which celebrates Chicano identity so openly or which provides such an incisive socio-political analysis of the precarious existence of Mexican laborers in the United States during that period. It is even more remarkable that this analysis was effected from within a literary genre: the picaresque novel. For today’s reader, therefore, interest is twofold: first, as socio-historic testimony on the labor conditions, culture and expressive forms of the braceros at that time; second, as an early example of Mexican-American working-class literature. Venegas himself seems to have recognized these two, apparently contradictory, objectives in his novelistic project: writing a testimony based on historical experience and thus protesting the socio-economic conditions of Chicanos; creating a fictional narrative based on the idiomatic and cultural expression of Chicanos, with whom he not only sympathized but most certainly identified. The historical value of Don Chipote is at least matched by its importance as literature. In our hands we hold an extremely innovative literary document which attempts to accommodate a new theme and new characters within the tradition of picaresque literature and the epic road story, as exemplified by Don Quijote. Instead of Lazarillos and Don Quijotes, we now have the naive campesino, a greenhorn, if you will, in the grand metropolis, where he encounters acculturated Mexicans, renegades, flappers and a slew of bicultural Mexicans (Americans) arising from Mexican-American folkore.

There are innumerable passages in the novel which indicate that . . .

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