Latin American Fiction: A Short Introduction by Phillip Swanson

By Phillip Swanson

This ebook introduces readers to the evolution of contemporary fiction in Spanish-speaking Latin the USA.

  • Presents Latin American fiction in its cultural and political contexts.
  • Introduces debates approximately tips to learn this literature.
  • Combines an summary of the evolution of recent Latin American fiction with specified experiences of key texts.
  • Discusses authors reminiscent of Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges and Isabel Allende.
  • Covers nation-building narratives, ‘modernismo’, the recent Novel, the growth, the Post-Boom, Magical Realism, Hispanic fiction within the united states, and more.

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Extra resources for Latin American Fiction: A Short Introduction

Example text

In the story ‘Anaconda’ the natural balance of nature is upset when humans build an institute in the jungle designed to find antidotes to snake venom, thus altering the usual order of things. 14 And even stories like ‘A la deriva’ (‘Drifting’) or ‘El hombre muerto’ (‘The Dead Man’), which seem to suggest the role of chance or fate in the death of men, accentuate the smugness and carelessness of man in the face of nature as the main cause of death. Yet if some stories are devastatingly critical of human presumptuousness in the jungle, others express tremendous admiration for those who struggle courageously against the limitations imposed by the natural world.

This perceived shift has led in recent years to innumerable critical debates about specificity versus universality (see chapter 7), but no amount of theory or politics can alter the fact that a change in sensibility did seem to take place. 9 A number of important authors 42 The Rise of the New Narrative from the River Plate area will allow us to trace this trend up to its most powerful and important manifestation in the fictions of Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina, 1899–1986), the most toweringly influential figure in the shaping of modern Latin American literature.

Oddly enough, though, modernismo would have effects that many of its poet practitioners might not have predicted. Their poetry really embodied a yearning for an alternative order, but their emphasis on absence of order would encourage the next generation of poets to concentrate on the disintegration of any concept of harmony. More generally, in freeing language from the obligation to reflect social reality (the most far-reaching consequence of modernismo for Latin American letters), modernismo paved the way for what was to become the basic tenet of the later New Narrative: the idea that language cannot effectively describe reality because reality itself is at best problematic or at worst incomprehensible and meaningless.

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