Recollections of a Provincial Past

Recollections of a Provincial Past

Recollections of a Provincial Past

Recollections of a Provincial Past

Synopsis

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811-1888) was Argentina's leading writer, educator, and politician of the nineteenth century, and served as President from 1868 to 1874. Of his several autobiographies, the best-known Recollections of a Provincial Past is one of the indisputable classics of Spanish American literature, as well as one of the earliest autobiographies written in the Americas in Spanish. Written in exile in 1850, the memoirs describe his childhood and adolescence in an Andean province whose customs were still those of a colony. Sarmiento presents his life as the triumph of civilization over barbarism; looking back on his youth, he measures his wealth and strength by the accumulation of enriching personal and political experiences. He compares himself to the newly independent Argentina, claiming to be a historically representative individual whose trajectory serves to illuminate contemporary South America.

Excerpt

The Library of Latin America series makes available in translation major nineteenth-century authors whose work has been neglected in the English-speaking world. The titles for the translations from the Spanish and Portuguese were suggested by an editorial committee that included Jean Franco (general editor responsible for works in Spanish), Richard Graham (series editor responsible for works in Portuguese), Tulio Halperín Donghi (at the University of California, Berkeley), Iván Jaksić (at the University of Notre Dame), Naomi Lindstrom (at the University of Texas at Austin), Francine Masiello (at the University of California, Berkeley), and Eduardo Lozano of the Library at the University of Pittsburgh. The late Antonio Cornejo Polar of the University of California, Berkeley, was also one of the founding members of the committee. The translations have been funded thanks to the generosity of the Lampadia Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

During the period of national formation between 1810 and into the early years of the twentieth century, the new nations of Latin America fashioned their identities, drew up constitutions, engaged in bitter struggles over territory, and debated questions of education, government, ethnicity, and culture. This was a unique period unlike the process of nation formation in Europe and one that should be more familiar than it is to students of comparative politics, history, and literature.

The image of the nation was envisioned by the lettered classes—a . . .

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