The Double Strand

The Double Strand: Five Contemporary Mexican Poets

Frank Dauster
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    The Double Strand
    Book Description:

    Two strands, one indigenous, the other imposed, pro-duce the poetic and cultural tensions that give form to the work of five contemporary Mexican poets -- All Chumacero, Efrain Huerta, Jaime Sabines, Ruben Bonifaz Nuno, and Rosario Castellanos. Although all five are significant figures, only Castellanos has yet been widely studied in the United States, primarily for her novels and her relations with the feminist movement.

    In spite of a number of rather basic differences in their work, these poets share and write within a complicated culture rooted in both the pre-Hispanic and the European traditions. Their poetry reflects this in its emphasis on death as a constant presence and in the echoes of both Aztec ritual poetry and European poetry.

    Although apparently very different formally and thematically, the five share a number of concerns. Each of them writes out of a contradictory inner tension; each is preoccupied with the effort to shape language as part of a personal voyage of discovery; each is haunted by death and seeks realization or plenitude through love of some kind. And each of them, ultimately, finds there is no escape.

    As Frank Dauster concludes, "The poetry of Mexico, like its people and its society, reflects the fusion of two worlds, and these complex poets of the double strand operate freely and imaginatively within it." Although addressed primarily to specialists in Latin American literature,The Double Strandalso speaks to those interested in the complex interaction between two widely differing cultural heritages, and in the rich fusion this blending produces in Mexican letters.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6282-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 The Background: Modem Poetry in Mexico
    (pp. 1-34)

    If the historical study of literature is to be possible, if literature is to be mare than an enormous heterogeneous mass of unrelated texts, we must see it as a process whose ramifications extend both forward and backward in time from any given moment or text. In the case of Mexican poetry, we may organize this process around certain key dates. In the majority of cases these reflect the appearance of literary reviews reacting against the prevailing currents and proposing, often rather drastically, a program for the “new” literature. These reviews are so important a fact of Mexican and, in...

  5. 2 ALÍ CHUMACERO: The Inner Landscape
    (pp. 35-58)

    Although anthologies and histories of literature invariably refer to him as one of the leading figures of this century, Alí Chumacero could be called the invisible man of modem Mexican poetry. His production is extremely sparse: three slim volumes and a handful of other poems published in journals and collected in thePoesía Completain 1980.¹ Critical studies of his work are far from abundant: a few articles and reviews, some of considerable value, but in total very little. Even the publication of the collected poems and the subsequent receipt of the 1980 Villaurrutia Prize for Poetry, the most important...

  6. 3 EFRAÍN HUERTA: The Sword of Eros
    (pp. 59-84)

    Efraín Huerta was born in Silao, in the state of Guanajuato, in 1914 and died in 1982. A member of the literary group centered around the journalTallerin the late 1930s, to the end of his life he remained faithful to this initial orientation, seeking always a poetic expressian fusing eroticism with political rebellion. During a career that culminated in the receipt of the Villaurrutia Poetry Prize in 1975, the National Literature Prize in 1976, and the National Journalism Prize in 1978, Huerta was, without doubt, the front-rank Mexican poet most openly committed to a far-reaching sociopolitical change. He...

  7. 4 JAIME SABINES: The Quarrel with God
    (pp. 85-102)

    Jaime Sabines is something of an anomaly in modem Mexican poetry. He has succeeded in earning a living from activities outside literature and has remained economically independent of the literary establishment, which tends to rely on professorships, fellowships, editorships, and a whole battery of similar economic support systems. A good part of Sabines’s adult creative life has been spent in the state of Chiapas where he was born in 1925, remote from the intense and sometimes superheated literary relationships that characterize life in the capital. All this probably explains why so many critics saw in his earlier work a poet...

  8. 5 RUBÉN BONIFAZ NUÑO: The Shadow of the Goddess
    (pp. 103-133)

    Rubén Bonifaz Nuño, born in Veracruz, Córdoba, in 1923, is unusual if not very nearly unique among contemporary Latin American writers. Like so many others, he studied law and never practiced; for many years he has held positions such as director general of publications of the National Autonamaus University of Mexico, and coordinator of humanities of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, corresponding to our American faculties of arts and sciences. He is also a member of the Mexican Academy of the Language. But here the similarities with other creative artists, many of whom are also academics, cease resoundingly. A...

  9. 6 ROSARIO CASTELLANOS: The Search for a Voice
    (pp. 134-162)

    The single most important choice for any writer, mare important even than questions of content or ideology, is the seletian of a voice, that peculiar personal and idiosyncratic expression of the author’s individuality in the face of the leveling effect of the masslangue.This option, which is hardly an entirely conscious one, conditioned as we all are by the complex social and personal factors that go into our makeup, is complicated further by the need to adopt an authorial stance, that is, a relationshiptowardthe created work. The possibilities for such stances are considerable, if not unlimited, but...

  10. 7 Conclusions: The Double Strand
    (pp. 163-167)

    The five poets examined in this volume may well seem very different one from another, and there are indeed considerable differences between them. It would be difficult to imagine writers seemingly more remote from one another than Chumacero and Bonifaz Nuٌo on the one hand, and Huerta and Sabines on the other, with Rosario Castellanos occupying some sort of middle ground. Even mare, it would be exaggerated to see the hermeticism of the first two as though it were the same thing. They are, in fact, very distinct in the reasons for their intensely closed poetry. Essentially, both deal with...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 168-175)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 176-186)
  13. Index
    (pp. 187-193)