Latin-American Women Writers: Class, Race, and Gender

By Myriam Yvonne Jehenson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6 Indigenista and Testimonio Literature: "Let Me Speak"

With the exception of Marta Brunet and Griselda Gambaro, the writers discussed in the book have either come from the upper and middle classes or focused on them in their works. The writers examined in this chapter, on the other hand, come from vastly contrasting backgrounds. Their commonality is that they focus on the humble classes and are united in their exploration of the condition of oppression. 1


LYDIA CABRERA

Born into an affluent family in Havana, Cuba, in 1900, and reared by devoted domestic servants, Lydia Cabrera makes the stories and folklore that her black nannies recounted in her youth the basis for her creative work. From 1922-1939Cabrera lived in Paris. It was a fortuitous time, for France had just "discovered" the esthetic importance of the African world. Picasso, Braque, Derain, and Vlaminck had revived "primitivism" in painting. Apollinaire published the first album of black sculpture in 1917. As early as 1914, the North American Louis Mitchell exposed Europe to African music through his introduction of jazz. In the field of literature, African culture and mores became focal in Blaise Cendrars' Antologie nègre ( 1921); Paul Morand Magie noire ( 1928); André Gide Retour de Tchad ( 1920); and Philippe Soupault's two works, Voyages au Congo ( 1929) and Le nègre ( 1929). 2 As the Guatemalan Miguel Angel Asturias would discover his native Maya culture in Europe, so Lydia Cabrera turned to her Afro-Cuban folkloric tradition during her residence in Paris. The early contact with her nanny's oral African myths, the emergence of négritude in Paris and of negrismo in Cuba during the twenties, and the anthropological studies of her brother-in-

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Latin-American Women Writers: Class, Race, and Gender
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • About the Author ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Chapter 1 - Latin American Women/ Women in Latin America 1
  • Chapter 2 - To Build Bridges 13
  • Chapter 3 - Man's Love... 'tis Woman's Whole Existence 23
  • Chapter 4 - Arms and Letters: the Power of the Word 41
  • Chapter 5 - To Build New Worlds 85
  • Chapter 6 - Indigenista and Testimonio Literature: "Let Me Speak" 119
  • Epilogue 149
  • Notes 155
  • Selected Bibliography 177
  • Index 193
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