General Bibliography

I am cleaning out files and I cannot keep everything. Yet I note that:

1. Gerald Graff in Profession 2007 talks about “our undemocratic curriculum” and how standardization could democratize it. I have a somewhat related post on the profession at my other blog.

2. Gustav Jahoda has a very interesting book, Images of Savages. Ancient Roots of Modern Prejudice in Western Culture (Routledge 1999). He starts out by talking of the monstruous races of Pliny the Elder … who created a compendium of humanoid creatures so far invented. There is much other interesting information including about Medieval views of ‘Blacks’. I have ordered this book.

3. Jeff Browitt’s article “Tropics of Tragedy: The Caribbean in GGM’s One Hundred Year’s of Solitude” (Shibboleths: a Journal of Comparative Theory 2.1 [2007] 16-33, available on line in full text) is worth reading slowly.

The piece reminds us that in the 1960s “the stage was set for a marketing assault on the international audience for prose fiction” because of the sense of exhaustion (John Barth) in Euro-North American fiction and the attraction of the exotic. It questions the novel’s chronicling of a “failure in the quest for community framed within fatalistic and tragic structures.” It points out that this failure is commonly attributed to the apparent inability of Latin americans to develop a historical consciousness. The author disagrees with this conclusion.

GM has always said that solidarity is the opposite of solitude and that Macondo suffers from the lack of love. Gerald Martin, among others, takes this at face value.

There is this interesting footnote (number 2): Angel Rama challenged the thesis on individual creation which underpins Vargas Llosa’s HISTORIA DE UN DEICIDIO. Vargas Llosa said Rama’s criticism was indicative of “the ideological blackmail of a new Inquisition that has arisen at the heart of the left” (54, in I am not sure which Vargas Llosa book).

The idea of predestination underpins the novel structurally and philosophically. The characters do not learn from history and the novel, in the end, symbolically kills a class parasitic upon the majority of the population.

GM cites as sources European modernist texts, but his actual sources are Latin American.

National failure in this and other novels (cf. Carpentier) is often presented as a failure of human nature (corruption, moral failure, pride) or to physical Nature. The actual problem is that national success is expected to follow Northern models when in reality Northern countries continue to plunder LA. The author cites TULIO HALPERIN (in 150-55 of I am not sure which book) on these matters. HALPERIN shows how the ambiguous attempt to define LA identity either with or against geography leads to contradictions at a fundamental level.

Faulkner never claimed his tales of Southern decline applied universally but GM applies his to the entire region … or even the West since the Enlightenment. RICARDO GULLON suggests he applies it to all of creation. This is TRAGIC REALISM (Goldmann, Orr) not magic realism.

The novel’s structure of feeling is romantic-conservative. Past is favored ovr present, rural against urban, communitarianism against individualism, established order against ambition. The aristocratic provincial order is destroyed by the outside influences of industry, national government, and the proletarian masses, i.e., by capitalist social relations.

Gerald Martin thinks the apocalyptic end means the end of idealism. (See footnote 13, however: HALPERIN is more interesting because he says the Boom novels imitated their naturalist predecessors in terms of biologism and racial determinism and their pessimistic appraisal of the capacity of the popular classes to enter modernity. This is why they exhibit the same fatalism.) This writer, however, sees nothing in the novel to support that. “If the novel were no more than an account of the destruction of an inauthentic past, then the tragic structure would be inappropriate” (26).

The writers says the novel is the aesthetic destruction of an inauthentic past, but it is ALSO framed in a tragic strucure which provides a particular way of looking at the world and at history. GM’s gaze, and Martin’s, is still essentially European and elitist: Macondo is condemned for not living up to European conceptions of the modern community.

It is possible that magical realism does not reveal a better, more accurate understanding of LA historical reality, but rather masks a catastrophic imposition of Western European ’empire’ that has infused the very fictional logic of much LA writing in its attempts to demonstrate, via fiction, why LA cannot ‘get it right’ with modernity and nation-state formation, the lack of which leads to a false conclusion – the inability to develop a historical consciousness.


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