The plans for this book, as well as for my Studies in Spanish-American Literature, were conceived during the years 1910-1912 while I was engaged in research work under Professor J. D. M. Ford, head of the Department of Romance Languages, Harvard University. It was not merely that text-books were lacking in both the Spanish-American and the Brazilian fields, for my interest is centred upon aesthetic pleasure rather than upon the depersonalized transmission of facts. A yawning gap of ignorance separated us then from the America that does not speak English, nor was the ignorance all on our side. Commercial opportunities, more than cultural curiosity, served to impart an impetus to the study of Spanish and soon we were reading fiction not only from Spain but from Spanish America. In so far as the mercantile spirit was responsible for this broader literary interest, it performed an undoubted service to art by widening our horizons, but one should be wary about overestimating the permanent gain. Unfortunately, the phonographic iteration of diplomatic platitudes brings continents no nearer, unless it be for the mad purposes of war. If, then, we are, as a people, quite as far as ever from Spanish America, what shall we say of our spiritual distance from the United States of Brazil?
I may be pardoned if I indicate, for example, that the language of Brazil is not Spanish, but Portuguese.