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Early Spanish American Narrative

Early Spanish American Narrative

Naomi Lindstrom
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  • Book Info
    Early Spanish American Narrative
    Book Description:

    The world discovered Latin American literature in the twentieth century, but the roots of this rich literary tradition reach back beyond Columbus's discovery of the New World. The great pre-Hispanic civilizations composed narrative accounts of the acts of gods and kings. Conquistadors and friars, as well as their Amerindian subjects, recorded the clash of cultures that followed the Spanish conquest. Three hundred years of colonization and the struggle for independence gave rise to a diverse body of literature-including the novel, which flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century.

    To give everyone interested in contemporary Spanish American fiction a broad understanding of its literary antecedents, this book offers an authoritative survey of four centuries of Spanish American narrative. Naomi Lindstrom begins with Amerindian narratives and moves forward chronologically through the conquest and colonial eras, the wars for independence, and the nineteenth century. She focuses on the trends and movements that characterized the development of prose narrative in Spanish America, with incisive discussions of representative works from each era. Her inclusion of women and Amerindian authors who have been downplayed in other survey works, as well as her overview of recent critical assessments of early Spanish American narratives, makes this book especially useful for college students and professors.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79745-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction and background
    (pp. 1-12)

    The main purpose of the first part of this introduction will be to delimit the coverage of the present overview of early Spanish American narrative and justify inclusions and exclusions. I will also provide a working definition of what I consider, exclusively for the specific purposes of the present book, to constitutenarrative. The second part of the introduction offers a highly condensed summary of research on Amerindian writing systems and narrative in what are now the Spanish American countries.

    The time span covered here is, fundamentally, from the Spanish arrival in the Americas until 1900. While the primary works...

  5. Chapter One Narrative accounts of the encounter and conquest
    (pp. 13-46)

    The accounts that Spanish conquistadors, clergy, and Amerindians composed to tell of the early years of the conquest, known ascrónicas de Indias(chronicles of the Indies), today exercise a fascination upon both historians and students of literature. Apart from their inherent interest, these writings are a point of reference to which one finds many allusions in literature of later periods. Christopher Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea (1451?–1506; known in the Spanish-speaking world as Cristóbal Colón), is in a sense the first figure in Spanish American writing. While it would seem reasonable to say that the first examples...

  6. Chapter Two The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: Literary Life in the Colonies
    (pp. 47-77)

    It was in the seventeenth century that Spain’s New World cities clearly emerged as centers of literary life, and narrative prose was cultivated with artistry by writers based in the Spanish American colonies. Before looking at the relatively settled seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, I review quickly the events of the more tumultuous century that preceded it, often alluded to in later literary works.

    The great conquests occurred early in the sixteenth century. Tenochtitlan fell in 1521. The Spanish conquest of the Inca empire, begun at the outset of the 1530s, was basically achieved by 1533, although resistance to Spanish rule...

  7. Chapter Three The Struggle for Nationhood and the Rise of Fiction
    (pp. 78-108)

    While the eighteenth century provides relatively few outstanding narrative works, the nineteenth offers an abundance. It was during the first half of this century that the novel and the short story emerged in Spanish America. Fictional narrative was beginning to win a place as a serious form of expression. During most of the colonial period, the reading of novels was linked in many people’s minds with idleness, addiction to fantasy, and mental thrill-seeking. There was some reason to associate novel-reading with escapism, since medieval and Renaissance Europe saw the proliferation of lengthy fictional narratives full of such fantastic touches as...

  8. Chapter Four The Mid-Nineteenth Century: Romanticism, Realism, and Nationalism
    (pp. 109-143)

    By the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the novel was well established as a form of both art and social commentary. Romanticism continued to exercise a powerful hold on writers as well as the reading public, although it was usually a heterogeneous type of romanticism. It is characteristic of Spanish American narrative, and of Spanish American literature generally, to blend movements and tendencies that in Europe might have been considered to be at odds with one another. A particularly common fusion is that of romanticism with realism.

    In literary-historical terms, realism is a movement that emerges in the mid-nineteenth...

  9. Chapter Five Late-Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Social Commentary and National Self-Reflection
    (pp. 144-176)

    As the nineteenth century moved into its latter decades, literary life continued to grow more organized in Spanish American capitals. Increasingly, the writers of a given nation established journals, salons, and literary circles, to learn from one another and to promote the idea that they were carrying out serious work. Writers of fiction were eager to win greater respect for the novel and short story, which had often been regarded as lightweight genres. By the late decades of the century, the novel was flourishing. While there are relatively few Spanish American novels from the early decades of the nineteenth century,...

  10. Chapter Six Naturalism and Modernismo
    (pp. 177-202)

    During the last years of the nineteenth century, literary life changed at a swifter pace. Writers initiated literary innovations and took up new influences more rapidly than in the early years of the century. With faster communications and travel, trends moved swiftly between regions and nations. This chapter looks at two tendencies that began in the 1880s, were well entrenched by the 1890s, and continued into the twentieth century, though the discussion here runs only to the end of the nineteenth. Naturalism, of course, began in France when novelists sought to move beyond realism. Naturalist writers were to assume the...

  11. Conclusion: Then and Now
    (pp. 203-206)

    This survey comes to an end in 1900, although many of the tendencies characterized in the sections on the late nineteenth century are still going full force as the nineteenth century ends. In conclusion, I would like to consider briefly the relations between, on the one hand, early Spanish American narrative and, on the other, scholarship, creative writing, and general public knowledge in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

    The narrative accounts of the events of the Spanish conquest have certainly fared well in recent times. From the second half of the twentieth century onward, there has been a sharp rise...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 207-228)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 229-232)
  14. Index
    (pp. 233-238)