Searching for Recognition: The Promotion of Latin American Literature in the United States

By Irene Rostagno | Go to book overview

1
Waldo Frank's Crusade for Latin American Literature

Waldo Frank, who is now forgotten in Latin America, was once the most frequently read and admired North American author there. Though his work is largely neglected in the United States, he was at one time the leading North American expert on Latin American writing. His name looms large in tracing the careers of Latin American writers in this country before 1940. Long before Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the Good Neighbor policy, Frank brought back to his countrymen news of Latin American culture. Frank went to South America when he was almost forty. The youthful dreams of Frank and his fellow pre-World War I writers and artists to make their country a fit place for cultural renaissance that would change society had waned with the onset of the twenties.1 But they had not completely vanished. Disgruntled by the climate of "normalcy" prevailing in America after World War I, he turned to Latin America. He started out in the Southwest. The remnants of Mexican culture he found in Arizona and New Mexico enticed him to venture further into the Hispanic world. In 1921 he traveled extensively in Spain, and in 1929 he spent six months exploring Latin America. While mainstream America showed him what he rejected--materialism and cultural conformity--Latin America represented a kind of organic society he hoped would eventually bloom at home. Latin America was a place, it seemed to him, where art and nature were closely intertwined. Latin America offered a way of life closer to the soil and the spirit--a way of life where the sense of community was central. It produced a literature that sustained these values. In the regionalistic writing popular in Latin America in the teens and twenties, writing that turned to the land and folklore for inspiration, he saw his Americanist aspirations realized. Moreover, Frank's messianic rhetoric and theory that a totally

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Searching for Recognition: The Promotion of Latin American Literature in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Notes xvi
  • 1- Waldo Frank's Crusade for Latin American Literature 1
  • Notes 26
  • 2- Blanche and Alfred Knopf's Literary Roundup 31
  • Notes 55
  • 3- The Plumed Horn/ El Corno Emplumado: The Spell of Cuba in the 1960s 59
  • IV 84
  • 4- Casa De Las Américas and The Center for Inter-American Relations: Competing for Latin American Literature 89
  • Notes 138
  • Conclusion 145
  • Notes 150
  • Selected Bibliography 151
  • Index 155
  • About the Author 160
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