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The Contemporáneos Group

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    The Contemporáneos Group
    Book Description:

    In the years following the Mexican Revolution, a nationalist and masculinist image of Mexico emerged through the novels of the Revolution, the murals of Diego Rivera, and the movies of Golden Age cinema. Challenging this image were the Contemporáneos, a group of writers whose status as outsiders (sophisticated urbanites, gay men, women) gave them not just a different perspective, but a different gaze, a new way of viewing the diverse Mexicos that exist within Mexican society. In this book, Salvador Oropesa offers original readings of the works of five Contemporáneos-Salvador Novo, Xavier Villaurrutia, Agustín Lazo, Guadalupe Marín, and Jorge Cuesta-and their efforts to create a Mexican literature that was international, attuned to the realities of modern Mexico, and flexible enough to speak to the masses as well as the elites.

    Oropesa discusses Novo and Villaurrutia in relation to neo-baroque literature and satiric poetry, showing how these inherently subversive genres provided the means of expressing difference and otherness that they needed as gay men. He explores the theatrical works of Lazo, Villaurrutia's partner, who offered new representations of the closet and of Mexican history from an emerging middle-class viewpoint. Oropesa also looks at women's participation in the Contemporáneos through Guadalupe Marín, the sometime wife of Diego Rivera and Jorge Cuesta, whose novels present women's struggles to have a view and a voice of their own. He concludes the book with Novo's self-transformation from intellectual into celebrity, which fulfilled the Contemporáneos' desire to merge high and popular culture and create a space where those on the margins could move to the center.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79856-4
    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
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    Frank Dauster and Merlin H. Forster in the United States and Octavio Paz and Guillermo Sheridan in Mexico, among several others, taught us about the importance of the writers of the Contemporáneos. Little by little these literary critics were able to rewrite the Mexican canon and give these authors the place they deserved in Mexican letters.

    In spite of the significance of the Contemporáneos, the novel of the Revolution in literature, Diego Rivera’s murals in painting, and the movies of the golden age ended up representing the essential and official Mexico. But the poems, short stories, and plays of the...

  5. 1 Neo-Baroque
    (pp. 1-27)

    The subtitle of José Antonio Maravall’s bookCulture of the Baroque(1980) isAnalysis of a Historical Structure. Maravall’s definition of historical structure is “the figure—or mental construction—in which we are shown a complex of facts endowed with an internal articulation wherein the intricate network of relations taking place between such facts is systematized and acquires meaning” (1986: xxxvi). In the development of the concept of the baroque, Maravall states that it is impossible to use this terminology outside the context of seventeenth-century Europe, although it is always possible to use the term when substructures of the content...

  6. 2 Gay and Baroque Literatures
    (pp. 28-53)

    Salvador Novo’sEl jovenis usually explained as a new novel based on the figure of young men popularized by gay writers like Marcel Proust and André Gide. Besides this influence, the figure of the wandering young man already existed in classical literature, especially in the baroque period. In 1952 Antonio Vilanova published his seminal article “El peregrino de amor en lasSoledadesde Góngora” (The Love Pilgrim in Góngora’sSolitudes). Vilanova starts by quoting Juan de Jáuregui, who wroteAntídoto contra las “Soledades”(Antidote against theSolitudes):

    You have a young man, the main character you present, and you...

  7. 3 Satiric Poetry
    (pp. 54-68)

    Gay and baroque poetry converge in Salvador Novo’s satire. It is baroque because it follows the conventions of Golden Age literary models; it is gay, even in those poems where the topic is not mentioned, because in this genre Novo comes out of the closet. In his other works, depending on the genre, Novo may or may not be closeted; as an editorial writer he is definitely closeted, even if he is writing anonymously. He is moderately out of the closet in his love poetry, where he plays with ambiguous gender markers or develops a new imagery to describe the...

  8. 4 Agustín Lazo (1896–1971): Xavier Villaurrutia’s Shadow
    (pp. 69-93)

    Agustín Lazo was born in Mexico City into a wealthy and well-known family. This is one of the main reasons why he is so different from many of his contemporary writers and painters. While the others were fighting to get a position in the administration or in the mass media, Lazo could choose where and what to study, write, and paint. When he decided to work in theater, he also chose his own terms and was able to do what he liked and to continue his career without the pressure of short-term success. By the same token he stopped working...

  9. 5 Guadalupe Marín: The Madwoman in the Murals
    (pp. 94-116)

    Guadalupe Marín is one of the most fascinating women of twentieth-century Mexico. She is most famous because she was Diego Rivera’s first or second wife (depending on whether we include Angelina Beloff) and by far his most important muse. After her Catholic marriage to Rivera (they never had a civil, legal marriage in Mexico), she wed Jorge Cuesta, a writer of the Contemporáneos group and one of the most complex personalities in Mexican artistic circles. Marín was more than anything else a celebrity (see Chapter 6). When she decided to publish two novels, no one took her seriously. She was...

  10. 6 Gossip, Power, and the Culture of Celebrity
    (pp. 117-140)

    In 1994 the cultural historian Neal Gabler published his seminal bookWinchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity, which was declared the nonfiction book of the year byTimemagazine. Gabler transcended the biographical genre, using Winchell’s life to explain the period of his fame (from the 1920s through the 1940s) and to illustrate how the popular culture trends of his generation, many shaped by Winchell himself, still affect the present. Gabler’s hypothesis is that it is impossible to grasp what is happening today in the world of entertainment, information, and mass media without understanding the developments in the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 141-156)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 157-168)
  13. Index
    (pp. 169-176)