European Perspectives on Hispanic Literature of the United States

By Genvieve Fabre | Go to book overview

The Establishment of Community in Zora
Neale Hurston's
The Eatonville Anthology (1926) and
Rolando Hinojosa's Estampas del valle (1973)

Heiner Bus
University of Mainz

In his essay "Chicano Literature: The Establishment of Community", 1 Tomás Rivera defined community as "place, values, personal relationships, and conversation" 2 and subsequently described two short pieces by Rolando Hinojosa as "attempts to build a community." 3 In the final paragraph he generalized this observation:

Up to the present time, one of the most positive things that the Chicano writer and Chicano literature have conveyed to our people is the development of such a community. We have a community today (at least in literature) because of the urge that existed and because the writers actually created from a spiritual history, a community captured in words and in square objects we call books.

The urge to create a community, in and through literature, should be conceded not only to the Chicanos. To reveal correspondences and divergences in two ethnic literatures, I shall analyze two texts with obvious structural and thematic similarities, Zora Neale Hurston "The Eatonville Anthology" published in 19265 and Rolando Hinojosa "Estampas del valle", part of his first major work, Estampas del valle y otras obras ( 1973). 6 After the two analytical sections I will compare the two cycles 7 and determine their place in the context of Hurston's and Hinojosa's other works. In the end I very tentatively shall try to distinguish them from mainstream products treating the same theme.

In his Zora Neale Hurston. A Literary Biography8 Robert E. Hemenway highly praises "The Eatonville Anthology":

It is pure Zora Neale Hurston: part fiction, part folklore, part biography, all told with great economy, an eye for authentic detail, and a perfect ear for dialect . . . It is Hurston's most effective attempt at representing the original tale-telling context . . . the best written representation of her oral art. 9

-66-

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