The Social Conscience of Latin American Writing

The Social Conscience of Latin American Writing

The Social Conscience of Latin American Writing

The Social Conscience of Latin American Writing

Synopsis

"On one level, this is a brilliant scholarly answer to the bedeviling question asked by non-Latin Americanists, 'What is Latin American literature like?' On another level, it coordinates and clarifies, for specialists, the complex of current issues that are often confusing and even discouraging because they are incompletely understood."--John S. Brushwood, Roberts Professor Emeritus of Latin American Literature, University of KansasLiterature in Latin America has long been a vehicle for debates over the interpretation of social history, cultural identity, and artistic independence. Indeed, Latin American literature has gained international respect for its ability to present social criticism through works of imaginative creation.In this comprehensive, up-to-the-minute survey of research and opinion by leading Latin American cultural and literary critics, Naomi Lindstrom examines five concepts that are currently the focus of intense debate among Latin American writers and thinkers. Writing in simple, clear terms for both general and specialist readers of Latin American literature, she explores the concepts of autonomy and dependency, postmodernism, literary intellectuals and the mass media, testimonial literature, and gender issues, including gay and lesbian themes. Excerpts (in English) from relevant literary works illustrate each concept, while Lindstrom also traces its passage from the social sciences to literature.

Excerpt

This study has as its purpose to present and discuss five concepts useful to readers who would like to approach Latin American literature in a more analytic spirit. It is not primarily a book to assist those wishing to specialize in the more technical aspects of literary criticism. It is for those who are interested in Latin America as a region and in the literature it has produced, readers who would like to acquire a set of concepts that can be utilized to read this literature critically. Another presupposition is that readers will be interested in Latin American literature principally because it is from Latin America, and also, but only secondarily, because of its formal characteristics. They will have a concern with the social and historical dynamic that has made the region's literature unique, such as the effects of conquest, colonization, and subsequent difficult relations with economically and politically stronger powers. Care has been exercised to make the book accessible to readers who do not read Spanish.

Following these assumptions, the emphasis in this study will not be on developing in full the intricacies of the analytical concepts set forth. The point is to show why the concepts are important and useful in the actual reading of Latin American literature. While many of the issues discussed here are applicable to virtually any literature, one goal of the book is to focus attention on the ways in which literature has assumed distinctive forms in Latin America because of the historical dynamic that has produced it. Both the unique characteristics of Latin America's literary history and the features of individual literary texts will be important in this regard.

In accord with the aim of engaging a general, well-educated readership with a Latin-Americanist interest, little space goes to issues that would principally attract professional literary specialists. There are few references to the academic questions of Latin American literary studies that might . . .

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