The Oxford Guide to Contemporary World Literature

The Oxford Guide to Contemporary World Literature
Ed. John Sturrock
“Spanish America” p. 391 – 405
Some generalisations about common themes and constructions in the tone and mood
of contemporary Spanish American literature:
“It is made out of whatever understanding has been gained over time of those old
misunderstandings; out of a sense that all culture is plural and comparative, even
the culture that thinks itself single.”
“It is about the length of novels and the banality of suspense; about sophistication
and its (possible) discontents.”
“….about falling between alternative worlds.”
“… of conceptual possibility, of what it takes for the mind to move (and to fail to
move) the world around.”
“… strong local or family traditions of oral narratives; a set of political realities
which were often already, without having to be arranged or refocused, operatic or
farcical; a long tradition of dead-pan irony, and a remorseless commitment to jokes.”
“… animates what looks like banalities.”
“…defining Latin American characteristic of ‘magic realism’.”
- term originated as 1920s’ art genre
- 3 definitions
1) Eurocentric idea that reality actually is marvellous in the Americas
2) Latin Americans not only tell fantastic stories but they also believe them; that
they are suoersitious and that superstition is therefore their reality; that there
are ghosts and miracles if you believe in them.
3) Any story, including the most fantastic ones, can be told as if it were
commonplace, and should surprise no one. To practise ‘magic realism’ is to
present the unlikely in a calmly realistic manner.
Manuel Puig
… people consume pulp fiction, comics, and old movies, and make their
imaginative lives out of them.
… possibility is a moral category; that a supposed escapism may be a way
(may be the only way) of redeeming, of actually altering a diminished reality.
… offer persuasive accounts of affection growing in strange regions.