Links to the essays are provided when available. So to make my list of the top ten essays since less impossible, I decided to exclude all the great examples of New Journalism--Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Michael Herr, and many others can be reserved for another list. I also decided to include only American writers, so such outstanding English-language essayists as Chris Arthur and Tim Robinson are missing, though they have appeared in The Best American Essays series.
The 20th century The vanguardia Eventually the innovations of Modernismo became routine, and poets began to look elsewhere for ways to be original. The next important artistic movement in Latin America was the avant-garde, or the vanguardia, as it is known in Spanish. This movement reflected several European movements, especially Surrealism.
It can be safely said that the repercussions of Surrealism in Latin America lasted throughout the 20th century. The Latin American variants were distinctive and rich and produced several masterworks not only in literature but also in the plastic arts, painting in particular.
Modernismo had been a renovation of poetic form and techniques, extending to the use of free verse. But, on the whole, the experiments remained within accepted and traditional prosodic molds.
The vanguardia, on the other hand, instituted a radical search for new, daring, confrontational themes and shockingly novel forms. These changes occurred at different paces in the various genres. The most daring and quick to adapt was poetryclearly because it was aimed at a smaller, more sophisticated and receptive audience.
During the first half of the 20th century, Latin American literature was blessed with many fine poets: In the wake of Modernismo and against its by now worn innovations and aspirationsvanguardista poetry freed itself from prosodic constraints and the pursuit of sublime beauty, choosing instead to seek the poetic in the prosaic and to delve into the inner recesses of the self, no matter how dark.
It is a torrent of poetry poured from a self untrammeled by decorumusing what appear to be Surrealist free-association techniques, flowing in a blank verse that nevertheless sounds more Shakespearean than anything else in its extravagant Essays written by famous writers fertile imagery.
Sexual impulses are sometimes evident and sometimes lurk just beneath the surface, as metaphors pile upon each other with apparent disregard for order or limit. It is a poetry at times expressing the deep despair of city dwellers seeking a more direct contact with nature and the purer sources of life.
Neruda was able to focus his poetic impulses after a political conversion brought about by the Spanish Civil War — After this event, he sought a collective voice, less focused on the individual self and more attuned to the vast injustices of history, which he gives a biblical dimension requiring biblical punishments and atonements.
All this led Neruda to his masterpiece, the Canto general ; Eng. Canto Generalan epic poem that encompasses the sweep of Latin American history from pre-Columbian times to the midth century.
Toward the end of his career, the versatile Neruda turned to simple forms on simple topics—namely, his Odas elementales ; Elementary Odesin which he sings the praises of an artichoke, wood, and the like.
Paz was a much more cerebral poet, but he shared with Neruda an epic flair in poems such as Piedra de Sol ; Sun Stone and also a penchant for erotic themes. Like Neruda, he too was a Republican activist during the Spanish Civil War, but the war experience turned him away from communism and all other political utopian movements.
The poems that appear in the edition are included in the English-language volume The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, — Paz has a Classical mind; the present repeats the past, and what seem to be obsolete forms reappear in new contexts.
Greeks and Aztecs expressed the same yearnings. The present is the delusion of difference; everything is the same, only our individual consciousness is dissolved by death.
Both these poems appear in the Collected Poems mentioned above. The modern novel In prose fiction the vanguardia did not arrive as quickly. The first step was a renovation of the novel but within accepted 19th-century Realist forms.
The first novels to be considered modern—that is, contemporary—in Latin American fiction were those written during and about the Mexican Revolution — While adhering to conventional forms, these novels presented an unsentimental, harsh, and action-packed world of wanton cruelty, with crisp plots in which the characters seem to be propelled by superior forces, as in Classical tragedy.
These novels were widely read and attained some international recognition. The most notable were three by authors who acquired prominent places in Latin American literary history: Each, as is the case with other contemporary novels published in various Latin American countries, describes toil within a given national industry: The mighty struggle against nature reaches transcendental proportions and in all cases approaches allegory and myth: This productive and dramatic contradiction made the novela de la tierra the literary tradition within which and counter to which new novelistic projects were measured.
A complementary tradition, attuned to the rebelliousness, skepticismand contentiousness of the avant-garde, emerged mostly in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, and its leader was Jorge Luis Borges.
Whereas the regionalist novel aspired to give a direct, unmediated version of Latin American reality, Borges furnished one that was avowedly bookish and thus derived from the Western tradition.
Borges saw in gaucho tales the repetition of Greek and biblical myths—not fresh stories from a new world but reiterations of the same old world. He mastered the tale based on apocryphal references and sources and programmatically rejected long fiction, declaring that some novels are as boring as life itself.
His first collection of short stories was Historia universal de la infamia ; A Universal History of Infamyin which he began to experiment with apocryphal attributions and bogus bibliographies.
These are texts that so unsettle the norms of realist fiction from within that they made regionalist novels appear obsolete. In any case, by regionalist fiction was retreating.
Avant-garde narrative forms, some drawn from sources belonging to African or Indian culturesbegan to prevail.Dec 03, · NPR’s Book Concierge Our Guide To ’s Great Reads.
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