Roberto González Echevarría: Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative (1990–) [EN, ES]

13 December 2014, dusan

“This book offers a theory about the origin and evolution of the Latin American narrative, and about the emergence of the modern novel. It argues that the novel developed from the discourse of the law in the Spanish Empire during the sixteenth century, while many of the early historical documents concerning the New World assumed the same forms, furnished by the notarial arts. Thus, both the novel and these first Latin American narratives imitated the language of authority. The book explores how the same process is repeated in two key moments in the history of the Latin American narrative. In the nineteenth century, the model was the discourse of scientific travellers such as von Humboldt and Darwin, while in the twentieth century, the discourse of anthropology – the study of language and myth – has come to shape the narrative. Professor González Echevarría’s theoretical approach is drawn from a reading of Carpentier’s Los pasos perdidos, and the book centres on major figures in the tradition such as Columbus, Garcilaso el Inca, Sarmiento, Gallegos, Borges and Garcia Marquez.”

Publisher Cambridge University Press, 1990
ISBN 0521023998, 9780521023993
245 pages

Review (Terry J. Peavler, Latin American Research Review, c1990, EN)
Review (Margarita Zamora, Hispanic Review, 1992, EN)
Review (Adriana Gordillo, Fronteras de la historia, 2003, ES)

Publisher (EN)
WorldCat (EN)
WorldCat (ES)

Myth and Archive (PDF), PDF (English, 1990)
Mito y archivo: una teoría de la narrativa latinoamericana (Spanish, trans. Virginia Aguirre Muñoz, PDF, 77 MB, via

Angel Rama: The Lettered City (1984–) [Spanish, English]

16 September 2014, dusan

“Angel Rama’s La ciudad letrada was published in 1984, shortly after he had died in a plane accident in Spain. Since then, it has quickly established itself as one of the most daring, perspicacious and innovative analyses of Latin American history, literature and political culture. However, because it was not completed due to his untimely death, the book was an incomplete synthesis of several decades of literary criticism and history. Even if Rama had not written La ciudad letrada, his place on the canon of Latin American letters would have been secured by his pioneering work on intra-American comparative literary studies. Rama, appropriating a term from Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, introduced into Latin American literary studies the term ‘transculturation’, which sought to conceptualize the interaction between indigenous, criollo and mestizo cultures in Latin America, and in this way he gave a hermeneutic key for unlocking many key texts of Latin American letters.

Rama’s book is surely about letters, literature and writing, but it is also about cities, space, spatialization and the relationship between the syntax of languages and the order of space. The book is, in fact, what one may call a philosophical-historical-cultural essay that uses literature and the ‘writer’–el letrado–to elaborate a wide-ranging interpretative thesis about Latin America as a cultural unit. Its genre is thus not a literary theory, comparative literature, or even cultural studies, even if it contributes to these. In German one calls this genre Geistesgeschichte, which is neither a spiritual nor an intellectual history, but rather a history of the animating logic of a culture.” (from a review by Eduardo Mendieta, City, 2006)

First published by Ediciones del Norte, Hanover/NH, 1984
With an Introduction by Hugo Achugar
Publisher Arca, Montevideo, 1998
ISBN 9974400244
126 pages

English edition
Translated and with an Introduction by John Charles Chasteen
Publisher Duke University Press, 1996
ISBN 0822317575, 9780822317579
141 pages
via Oral Majority

Commentary (Cora Gorman Malone, 2010, in EN)
Commentary (Brantley Nicholson, 2011, in EN)

Publisher (EN)

La ciudad letrada (Spanish, 1984/1998, 6 MB, no OCR)
The Lettered City (English, pages 40 and 56 missing, 1996, 9 MB, no OCR)

Rebecca Solnit: Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000)

1 October 2013, dusan

“Drawing together many histories — of anatomical evolution and city design, of treadmills and labyrinths, of walking clubs and sexual mores — Rebecca Solnit creates a fascinating portrait of the range of possibilities presented by walking. Arguing that the history of walking includes walking for pleasure as well as for political, aesthetic, and social meaning, Solnit focuses on the walkers whose everyday and extreme acts have shaped our culture, from philosophers to poets to mountaineers. She profiles some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction — from Wordsworth to Gary Snyder, from Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet to Andre Breton’s Nadja — finding a profound relationship between walking and thinking and walking and culture. Solnit argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in our ever more car-dependent and accelerated world.”

Publisher Penguin, 2000
ISBN 0670882097, 9780670882090
326 pages

Reviews: Andrew O’Hehir (Salon), Joseph Anthony Amato (Journal of Social History).