Prepared by Janet Pérez
EDITORIAL POLICY: Hispania publishes reviews of selected books in the following categories: academic books (Peninsular and Latin American), linguistics, pedagogy (textbooks), and new fiction. We do not review journal numbers or publish book notices. Publishers and authors should submit books for possible selection to the Book Review Editor. Hispania cannot accept unsolicited reviews nor honor requests to review specific books. Members of AATSP who wish to be considered as reviewers should send copies of curricula vitae to the Book Review Editor, Dr. Janet Pérez, Assoc. Dean, Graduate School, Texas Tech Univ. Box 4460, Lubbock, TX 79409. Those assigned books for review will receive a stylesheet and a statement of editorial policy.
|Fox, Dian. Refiguring the Hero. From Peasant to Noble in Lope de Vega y Calderón. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991, 242 pp.|
This is a scholarly well-prepared work; from the title, one expects an almost iconoclastic approach to its subject but soon discovers its goal to be a refiguring of the heroes selected, focusing our attention on Fuenteovejuna (the Village), Peribáñez of Peribáñez y el Comendador de Ocaña, and Pedro Crespo of El alcalde de Zalamea, among others, protagonists whose efforts to obtain justice transformed them into revolutionary leaders, cast in twentieth century terminology, as interpreted by critics and literary historians of the period.
The author carefully guides us through a labyrinth of quotes and an inexhaustible supply of well-documented references before leading us to the highly original studies, the essence of her work, which become progressively more convincing as one goes from analysis to analysis. Early on, Fox expresses her desire to reassess �the place of the Spanish theatrical canon within its European context, and since my concerns are at times comparative, to direct this study not only to specialists in Spanish letters but also to scholars and students of other literatures who are less familiar with Golden Age Spain� (xiii). For that reason, nearly all the quotes are given, first, in English translation, followed by the original Spanish text, when required. This leads to, at times, rather tedious readings, as one tends to verify the translation before proceeding to the next point.
Our icons are not destroyed, but are considerably altered, once we realize that Peribáñez, Fuenteovejuna, and Pedro Crespo are motivated by forces other than a desire for social justice. Evaluating Peribáñez, for example, we read: �If all the characters in this comedia participate morally in the Comendador's fall, who is left for the audience to admire? Who is the hero?...If by hero we mean the man who examines his conscience but still makes the wrong choice... the hero cannot be Peribáñez, whose soliloquies reveal no conscience, only an acute consciousness of his social options, and whose actions reveal a shrewd head for strategy� (126). For don Fadrique, we find this contrasting evaluation: �recognition of and remorse for his error is the most highly developed and poignant palinode uttered by Lope's erring Comendadores. If any character indisputably changes for the better in this play, it is don Fadrique, the Comendador, who, comprehending his trespass, not only rejects revenge, but forgives the man who has just wounded him mortally. By contrast, the peasant �hero� of this comedia, begging the nobleman's pardon, stabs him in the back� (130). Rough treatment for one of our sacred �heroes�.
The treatment given Pedro Crespo, the Alcalde de Zalamea, is equally forceful, if less iconoclastic. It is shown that Pedro's actions are strongly self-motivated: �Because Crespo has covered his bets by removing the unfavorable witnesses, his argument is quite safe. He may have wrecked his daughter's reputation, but with a virtuoso performance, employing tactics learned from the Captain himself, he has saved his son from justice, and gotten his revenge to boot� (164). Later: �Crespo is certainly a memorable character; not for any rustic virtue or simplicity, not for any imitable heroism, but for a very believable emotional life, which Calderón subtly exposes through asides� (165).
This book reminds us of the need to adjust all critical statements to the temper of the times; there are no absolutes that cannot be challenged.
A. V. Ebersole
Tucson, AZ 
|Gascón Vera, Elena. Un mito nuevo: la mujer como sujeto /objeto literario. Madrid: Pliegos, 1992, 286 pp.|
La autora presentó este libro en el Instituto Internacional de Madrid. El acontecimiento estuvo acompañado de una gran expectación por parte de un numeroso público en el que no faltaron reconocidas figuras de las letras, del pensamiento e incluso de la política española. Como bien apuntó Elena Gascón en aquella ocasión, y lo señala explícitamente en el libro, esta obra es una selección de ensayos escritos en distintos momentos de su carrera, desde 1970 a 1992, pero que se recopilan ahora en un volumen que les otorga unidad crítica y temática. En efecto, el título proporciona la clave inmediata para reconocer lo que el lector encontrará en el avance de una amena lectura: el tratamiento de lo feminino en diversos ámbitos de la literatura y de la cultura, sin dejar de lado las actitudes misóginas. Para ello, los catorce ensayos se agrupan en tres partes, encabezadas cada una de ellas por un epígrafe. La primera se centra en Las mujeres y la búsqueda de lo femenino; aquí converge la preocupación común de distintas autoras españolas y latinoamericanas por encontrar una voz genuinamente femenina, a lo que tradicionalmente la mujer no ha tenido acceso debido a las ambigüedades y ambivalencias que han condicionado muchas veces las representaciones de lo femenino. Los ensayos correspondientes a esta primera parte se sitúan más cerca del presente desde el punto de vista temático: Rosa Montero, Rosario Ferré, Esther Tusquets y Pedro Almodóvar, nombres claves del ámbito hispánico de los tiempo más recientes.
La segunda parte lleva por título Los hombres y la indeterminación de lo femenino, y lo que interesa analizar es el modo en que algunos autores, desde su condición masculina, han considerado y resuelto de forma heterodoxa la idea de lo femenino. Se lleva a cabo en esta parte la revelación de los códigos más profundos en sugerentes ensayos como �Historia de demencia: lo femenino en Poeta en Nueva York� o el no menos apasionante �Giacomo Casanova y la seducción ilustrada de las mujeres en el siglo XVIII�. Por último, la tercera parte, La ambigüedad de los géneros: filosofía y protofeminismo, se remonta a los brillantes siglos de Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Tirso de Molina y Fernando de Rojas. El ensayo que cierra el libro se dedica al análisis de las polémicas feministas y antifeministas del siglo XV.
Como se habrá podido apreciar por lo dicho anteriormente, hay una correspondencia entre la disposición de los ensayos dentro del libro y el actualísimo pensamiento que los recorre uno a uno. Como apunta la propia autora, �he querido dar una unidad que plasmara una cronología tradicional histórica, pero invertida� (14); es decir, se parte de lo más cercano en el tiempo para situarse en lo más lejano. Sólo así podría hacerse desde ese presupuesto de coherencia analítica, que le permite a la autora vincularse con un proyecto propio de la segunda mitad del siglo: �una aproximación crítica que plantea preguntas teóricas y prácticas sobre la cultura patriarcal y canónica desde un punto de vista femenino y feminista� (13). Con las herramientas y conocimientos más actuales se aborda lo más inmediato para retroceder en el tiempo. Por eso, cuando se llega al final del libro, se tiene la sensación de que se ha llegado a las conclusiones más profundas que atañen a las prácticas discursivas, las representaciones, los estereotipos, conductas e ideas sobre la mujer, arraigadas en la cultura y, como no, en la literatura desde la época en la que se detiene el libro, la Edad Media, aunque el estado de cosas se remonta a muchísimo antes.
Sin olvidar el propósito del libro que ya apuntábamos, Elena Gascón hace alarde de un profundo conocimiento de los más diversos procedimientos de la crítica textual. En todos ellos se desenvuelve con destreza y soltura. Cabe mencionar a título ilustrativo los nombres de Freud, G. Deleuze, Félix Guatari, Derrida, Lacan y, por supuesto, los nombres de la crítica feminista francesa y anglosajona. A propósito de esto último, el ensayo incluido en la primera parte y que se titula �Hacia un abordaje: Esther Tusquets y Rosa Montero ante la escritura feminista�, presenta al final una útil lista de términos del feminismo francés Comendador por la propia autora.
Los procedimientos criticos, siempre bien traídos a colación, le permite a la autora referirse a los hecho con total flexibilidad. Se debe a este planteamiento el que se haga extensivo el calificativo de �postmoderno�, en un afán de definir a lo que tal adjetivo se refiere, a obras de diversa índole a las que une el hecho de que hayan sido escritas �en la marginalización a causa de su enunciado poliglótico e impulsado por un deseo paródico y trasvestido� (46). Según esta puntualización, habría que reunir en este grupo al Quijote de Cervantes, el Satiricón de Petronio, Gargantúa y Pantagruel de Rabelais, Los viajes de Gulliver de Swift o Moby Dick de Meville.
Con su libro, Elena Gascón ha aportado un  punto de vista diferenciado que se enmarca en un proyecto global de reinterpretación y reflexión de la literatura y de la tradición crítica que durante siglos se ha encargado de abordar las obras. No en vano se trata de mujer que, como autora y crítica, se acerca a lo que desde la condición femenina se ha tratado y escrito a lo largo de la historia.
Francisco González Castro
State University of New York at Stony Brook
|La Razón de Lupus de Moros: Un poema hermético. Estudio y edición de André Michalski. Madison, Wisconsin: Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies, 1993, 182 pp.|
The medieval poem which Michalski entitles Razón de Lupus de Moros is more commonly known as the conjoined texts Razón de amor con denuestos del agua y el vino, an early 13th Century composition in irregular meter. The erotic encounter of the Razón and the jocular debate of the Denuestos seem to assign them to distinct medieval genres, but Michalski makes a new argument for their unity by attributing a hermetic, specifically alchemical, code to their apparently disparate themes.
Most grand, unifying schemes are bright ideas stretched to the breaking point, but Michalski builds a rational case for alchemy as the controlling context for this puzzling work. The science of the elements and their mutability was indeed a major preoccupation of medieval research, and its hermetic discourse reveled in cryptic symbols and allusions. Previous attempts to unify these two poems, as the libidinous meanderings of a dream sequence or the marvels of a visionary garden, are only partially on target, according to Michalski, because they miss the narrator's active collaboration in penetrating the mechanics of the universe.
Through impressive collateral documentation, Michalski succeeds in making the entire text intelligible as a celebration of the magical arts. The repeated references to water and wine are allusions to the �water of life�, an elixir distilled by alchemists that will provide many of the benefits associated with the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, and even of the redemptive death of Christ, when water and blood poured from his lanced side. The cups hanging from the trees are glass laboratory vessels, manufactured in Lombardy (v. 6); French and German schools of alchemy are perhaps alluded to through the sites where this young scholar claims to have studied (v. 5), and his lady love is Dame Nature -and Mistress Alchemy- who fears losing him to an ecclesiastical career. Even her veil and gloves refer obliquely to the cap for trapping distillations and protective gear for handling hot beakers. This elaborate code, Michalski posits, was probably composed, and not just copied, by the eponymous Lupus (�wolf�= jackal/dog, symbol of the Egyptian god of alchemy) de Moros (someone adept in Arabic science) for a circle of fellow initiates who resided in or around Toledo and carried on their professional discourse in its mozarabic dialect.
The constituent arguments in the book are carefully developed, and accompanied by a dense scholarly apparatus and a creditable new edition of the poem. Although rich in secondary sources related to alchemy, there are significant items missing from the end bibliography, most notably Antonio Solalinde's rescued chapter on �Razón de Amor con Denuestos del agua y el vino� in Poemas breves medievales (Edited by Ivy A. Corfis; Madison, Wisconsin: Hispanic Seminary, 1986; pp. ix-xi and 35-47) which contains a dozen further bibliographical items.
The author provides many highly novel and undoubtedly useful insights on this complex text, and manages to give a plausible explanation in alchemical terms for nearly all the debated features of the poem, but some assertions will give literary historian's pause. The great bulk of medieval scientific (and even literary) works cited originated outside of Spain or only survives on foreign soil; those that did circulate in Iberia are almost exclusively from much later periods. The undeniably jovial quality of the debate section of the poem is still at odds with the rapturous union of the first part, and even more so with the proposed seriousness with which medieval alchemists understood themselves and their professional calling. Finally there is not enough linguistic or codicological data to make the Lupus de Moros of the explicit more than a copyist, or to locate the original site or language of the composition. Despite these reservations, Michalski's brilliant synoptic interpretation of the poem will be a point of departure for all future work.
George D. Greenia
College of William and Mary
|Miller, Stephen. Del realismo/naturalismo al modernismo: Galdós, Zola, Revilla y Clarín (1870-1991). Las Palmas: Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, 1993, 218 pp.|
|Toscano Liria, Teresa. Retórica e ideología  de la Generación de 1868 en la obra de Galdós. Madrid: Editorial Pliegos, 1993, 224 pp.|
To the extensive corpus of Galdós criticism Stephen Miller and Teresa Toscano Liria add two valuable volumes. Both Miller and Toscano Uria write about the socio-political foundations of the last half of the nineteenth century, that inform, according to their investigations, the arguments for the socio-mimetic nature of literature. Because the authorial treatment of the topic differs significantly, the works will be treated separately.
Stephen Miller's text consists of an introduction, five chapters, and a conclusion, followed by works cited and a content containing both chapter titles and divisions within each chapter. In order to establish a foundation for the chapters which follow, Miller addresses the ongoing polemic concerning the value of literature to a society; he includes in this introductory chapter numerous opposing opinions relating to the purpose of literature and explains how this philosophical controversy affects the literary movements indicated in the book's title (realism, naturalism, and modernism). The text's introduction functions as both an introductory thesis and an informative essay regarding the disagreements over the function of art which was not only a debate during the era, but also inspired those like Ortega and Gómez de la Serna several years later to continue the speculation.
Choosing Galdós as the almost obvious author to epitomize the transition from realism to modernism, Miller communicates the historical context of the movement through detailed analysis of primary documents published in archival material of the period. Drawing primarily on the critical works of Leopoldo Alas (Clarín) and Manuel de Revilla with references to Zola's impact on Spanish thought through his philosophy and his creative interpretation of reality, Miller goes to great lengths to elucidate the historical and socio-political context of realism/naturalism in Spain from 1870 to 1901. His purpose is not a personal positional one, but rather to use primary documents to support the premise that �lo que Balzac, Zola y Galdós han logrado, pues, es imitar partes muy significativas del complejo movimiento de la vida social y personal� (112).
Miller offers citations from critical essays by Manuel de la Revilla y Leopoldo Alas which explain �los problemas, los progresos, y las fases tempranas del realismo/naturalismo español� (46). He observes that Revilla was the first Spanish critic who tried to explain �la formación de la novela socio-mimética en España� (47), reminding the reader how difficult it is to �separar lo literario de lo social en un ambiente como el tan politizado de la España de la década posrevolucionaria� (51).
According to Miller's research, Clarín vacillated between his appreciation of several of Galdós's works, specifically El amigo Manso, los Episodios, and La desheredada. Clarín, he claims, showed a personal preference for the Manso while at the same time touting the socio-historical importance of Isidora Rufet's plight in La desheredada. Says Miller, �para Alas, 1884, la literatura es regina scientiarum, el instrumento intelectual más importante que usa el hombre para comprenderse� (112).
The most rewarding feature of Miller's careful research is not its treatment of realism, naturalism, or modernism, per se. That subject has been adequately explicated in countless literary histories. He, on the contrary, submits a clear, organized presentation of little-known background data of the dominant literary trends of the last half of the nineteenth century from their historical, geographical and philosophical locus and concurrently applies that information to works of Benito Pérez Galdós, perhaps the most prolific writer of that era.
Retórica e ideología de la Generación de 1868 en la obra de Galdós offers a keen analysis of the literary scene in Spain after the Revolution of 1868. Toscano Liria analyzes the rhetoric of the philosopher, Julián Sanz del Río and the high profile political figures Emilio Castelar and Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, noting the way in which these nineteenth-century Spanish thinkers revealed to their countrymen Spain's need for change in order to enter the modern world. The study proposes to demonstrate the way in which the socio-political and philosophical thinkers influence literary manifestations, arguing that �El siglo XIX es el siglo de la oratoria española por excelencia, y ésta afecta a toda la vida cultural del país� (27).
Each chapter approaches the differing philosophies of the previously mentioned Spaniards from a different view. Chapter 1 looks at the literary style -specially figurative language- as well as the effect of the diverse aesthetic elements. Chapter 2 is dedicated to the lexicon of the three essays in question in order to confirm the socio-linguistic connection. By organizing the lexicon of the essays into the religious and the socio-political, Toscano Liria emphasizes the important relationship between rhetoric and society. Chapter 3 draws attention to the manner  in which classic oratory is reflected in the nineteenth-century essays, while Chapter 4 isolates the dramatic elements. Finally, the works of Benito Pérez Galdós are chosen to exemplify the thesis of the study for, according to Toscano Liria, �La función del lenguaje en la novela cobra... una función primordial en la obra de Galdós� (23).
Included in the end material are notes (for each chapter) and a brief (considering the volumes of Galdosian criticism) bibliography. The value of this study may best be seen in the careful rhetorical analysis of the essays of these well-known figures. It seems questionable, however, to title the selection Retórica e ideología de la Generación de 1868 en la obra de Galdós when so little emphasis is placed on Galdosian fiction.
|Molina, Tirso de. Trilogía de los Pizarros. Edición crítica, estudio y notas de Miguel Zugasti. 4 volumes. Kassel, Germany: Reichenberger, 1993, 210 pp. (Vol. I), 254 pp. (Vol. II), 219 pp. (Vol. III), 241 pp. (Vol. IV).|
The 1992 quincentennial of Columbus's arrival in the Americas has stimulated new interest in texts related to European interactions with the New World. Those sharing this interest, along with comediantes and other Golden Age scholars, will find Miguel Zugasti's new critical edition of Tirso de Molina's Trilogía de los Pizarros rewarding both for the dramas themselves and for Zugasti's painstaking editorship.
Tirso's Trilogía de los Pizarros focuses on the three brothers who played such important roles in the Spanish conquest of the Americas. The first drama, Todo es dar en una cosa, offers Tirso's version of Francisco Pizarro's early life: conventional comedia intrigues and rivalries surrounding his illegitimate conception and birth; his precocious childhood, complete with omens and foreshadowings of an illustrious destiny; his first military successes in the Spanish war against Portugal; and his determination to seek fame and fortune in the New World. Amazonas en las Indias, the second installment, takes place in Peru and focuses on Gonzalo Pizarro's adventures there. This play combines the historical events of the Conquest -including Francisco's assassination while serving as imperial governor, the power struggle which followed and Gonzalo's own ultimate death- with a mythoromantic depiction of the Spaniards' encounters with South America's legendary female warriors. The hero of the final drama, La lealtad contra la envidia, is Fernando Pizarro. Here Tirso once again mixes conventional comedia devices with history, romanticizing Pizarro's relationship with Isabel Mercado while recounting his renowned deeds in the subjugation of Peru and his nobility in the face of unjust imprisonment. The trilogy ends with Fernando's vindication and with the celebration of multiple marriages.
This edition presents each comedia in a separate volume, along with an opening volume of critical commentary on the trilogy's history, evolution and dynamics. Zugasti's presentation of these plays is exemplary in virtually every way. His is the first modern edition to return to the trilogy's princeps, the 1635 Cuarta parte de las comedias del Maestro Tirso de Molina, for its source; his predecessors in this century, including Blanca de los Ríos, relied primarily upon Emilio Cotarelo's less-than-accurate 1906 version of the trilogy in the Nueva Biblioteca de Autores Españoles series. Zugasti's edition thus restores missing verses and corrects Cotarelo's other deviations from the princeps. Zugasti furnishes a list of textual variations in previous editions as an appendix to each comedia. Also provided are extensive but never excessive notes that cross-reference and illuminate these sometimes-challenging texts in a variety of ways. Often citing Covarrubias, the Diccionario de Autoridades and similar sources, Zugasti clarifies obscure vocabulary, idiomatic expressions and allusions for the reader; he further complements this information with precise intertextual references to other Golden Age works employing the same phraseology or verbal devices. Moreover, Zugasti's notes contextualize the action chronologically, geographically and historically, even specifying the sources from which the playwright derived his version of events. Each work is accompanied by a plot summary, structural and mathematical breakdowns of the metrical forms employed, a bibliography, and two indexes, one of all footnoted material and one of all proper names appearing in the text and notes. These textual supplements increase the plays' accessibility and will certainly facilitate scholars' research.
Zugasti's five-chapter introductory volume is equally useful. He begins with a discussion of the Trilogía's origins: Tirso's years in Santo Domingo and later at the Mercedarian monastery in Trujillo. The editor believes Tirso's direct knowledge of the New World to have influenced his writing of the trilogy, but attributes  the actual genesis of the texts to the playwright's tenure as Comendador of the Trujillo chapter house, which the Pizarro family had helped to establish financially. They remained important patrons of the order and induced Tirso to participate in their campaign to recover the family's lost marquisate, awarded to Francisco by Carlos V but then revoked after Gonzalo's alleged rebellion against the crown. The plays were thus intended to publicly glorify the Pizarros and strengthen their case, leading Zugasti to label the Trilogía �una magnífica propaganda para la causa pizarrista� (I, 17). This line of investigation also leads Zugasti to his most provocative hypothesis: that the Mercedarian did not set out to write a trilogy. Instead, the editor proposes, Tirso authored Todo es dar en una cosa and La lealtad contra la envidia as a �díptico� intended to glorify Francisco and Fernando Pizarro's heroic deeds even as it conceded Gonzalo's treason. Once Francisco and Fernando's descendants recovered their nobility in 1631, then Tirso wrote Amazonas en las Indias, glorifying Gonzalo �para quitar toda mácula de un linaje que ya ostentaba un marquesado� (I, 45). This theory, which Zugasti supports with corroborating evidence, explains the trilogy's otherwise-confusing internal dynamics.
Zugasti's second chapter addresses an inevitable, fundamental question in the consideration of historical drama: the reconciliation of dramatic imperatives with fidelity to history. He provides an informative theoretical foundation for his discussion, starting with Aristotle and Plato and paying generous attention to such Peninsular literary figures as López Pinciano, Lope de Vega, and Bances Candamo. After defending an author's prerogative to �poeticize� history and enumerating Tirso's historical and literary sources for the trilogy, Zugasti details the Mercedarian's modifications of those sources, devoting special attention to the heroic portrait of Gonzalo Pizarro in Amazonas en las Indias.
In Chapter III, Zugasti pursues his critical trajectory with a close examination of Tirso's dynamics in the three texts, including the simultaneous development of the principal �acción épico-mítica que desempeñan los hermanos Pizarro� and the secondary lyric and comic elements ordained by �las reglas artísticas de la comedia� (I, 85). On the primary level, Zugasti explores the characterization of the Pizarro brothers, their supporters and their enemies, paying special attention to the epic and mythic parallels through which the playwright glorifies his protagonists. The editor next explores the trilogy's linguistic features toward that same end, even providing a useful list of the most significant rhetorical devices with definitions and examples. The trilogy's secondary actions, including the love intrigues and the scenes involving rustics and graciosos, are the subject of a similar analysis.
Finally, Zugasti concludes this critical volume with two brief chapters. Chapter IV studies the various metrical forms employed by Tirso and the situations in which the most common ones occur; this chapter also assembles and combines the individual metrical tables included with each play. Chapter V details the Trilogia's textual history from the publication of the princeps to the present day, evaluating the various editions and explaining the process by which Zugasti has derived his own. This volume also includes an extensive bibliography and a helpful index.
Distinguished by meticulous editorship and perceptive insights into the three plays, Zugasti's edition of Tirso's Trilogía de los Pizarros represents a valuable contribution to comedia studies.
Christopher B. Weimer
The Pennsylvania State University
|Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar. Castaways. Edited and with an introduction by Enrique Pupo-Walker. Translated by Frances López-Morillas. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London University of California Press, 1993. xxx + 159 pp.|
The Naufragios, a valuable document for students of Latin American history and ethnography, and a seminal text in the development of Spanish American narrative tradition, has long needed an adequate English translation. Prior to 1993, readers of the Naufragios had to rely on three English translations which, for various reasons, were unsatisfactory. Thomas Buckingham Smith's translation of 1851 (revised 1871), is based on the 1555 Spanish edition and has the convoluted style in vogue in nineteenth century English. Fanny Bandelier's translation of 1905 renders too literally and, in places, paraphrases the 1542 Spanish edition. Cyclone Covey's version of 1961, based on a collation of the three Spanish sources of the text -the Joint Report, the 1542 and 1555's editions- relied greatly on Smith's translation. Even less reliable as a source of Cabeza de Vaca's text are several older paraphrases, for  example, Cleve Hallenbeck's of 1940. Stimulated by the commemoration of the Quinto Centenario, new translations of the Naufragios have begun to appear.
The López-Morillas translation, done by the award-winning translator and edited by Enrique Pupo-Walker, the scholar at the forefront of Naufragios studies, is based on Pupo-Walker's critical edition (Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1992) of the 1555 Spanish version printed in Valladolid. This version was chosen because unlike the 1542 edition, it was produced with Cabeza de Vaca's intervention. López-Morillas's translation accurately renders the content and captures the style of a sixteenth-century chronicle in readable modern English. The López-Morillas translation retains the paragraph division made by Pupo-Walker in the Spanish text to facilitate reading. Of additional interest in this edition are the Introduction, the Notes, appendices, in particular �The American Cultures Described in Cabeza de Vaca's Naufragios�, and the Select Bibliography. Black and white illustrations depict events during the expedition. The Introduction offers a summary of Cabeza de Vaca's eight year expedition in North America and of his later adventures in South America recorded in the Commentaries. More analysis of the Naufragios as literary discourse than that given would have been appreciated especially by readers unfamiliar with Spanish and, thus, unable to consult the introduction to Pupo-Walker's Spanish critical edition.
Another translation of the Naufragios that appeared in 1993 is The Account: Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's �Relación�. An annotated translation by Marting A. Favata and José B. Fernández (Houston, Texas: Arte Público, Press, 1993) made from their own Spanish edition (Potomac, MD: Scripta Humanística, 1986) using the 1555 Valladolid edition. This translation succeeds in capturing in modern English idiom the qualities of oral storytelling found in Spanish. The translators take special pride, and rightly so, in their annotations of geographical, environmental and personal references. Of particular interest to the scholar are the �Editions of The Account in Chronological Order� and a listing of translations into other languages, also in chronological order, more complete than that found in Pupo-Walker's edition. A very complete bibliography of secondary works completes the volume.
These new translations of the Naufragios go a long way to meet the need for an accurate English version that reads well and contains informative notes and bibliography. The scholars involved in both editions are to be congratulated.
James C. Murray
Georgia State University
|O' Callaghan, Joseph. The Learned King: The Reign of Alfonso X of Castile. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993, 388 pp.|
The Learned King is the history of a king and his reign; but since his reign was devoted so much to literature and the fine arts, as well as the sciences, history and the law, this study is of exceptional value to Hispanists. Such scholars, as they research Alfonso's literature, language and other matters pertaining to culture will find O'Callaghan's a valuable reference when they need to cite the Learned King's activities. His book is a reliable account, and the fact that it is written in English and that it is available, while the great old Spanish histories are difficult to find, lend it special attractiveness. The author is one of America's two outstanding historians of Medieval Spain, the other being Robert I. Burns, S. J. O'Callaghan's deep interest and expertise in the reign of Alfonso never allows him to be adulatory. He writes in a clear and straightforward style which makes his work exceptionally readable. The reviewer has concentrated upon the book's contribution to Hispanism, but even so, some overview of the topics treated by the author should be offered through the listing of the titles of the chapters: 1. The King and His Kingdoms; 2. The Ideology of Government; 3. The Tools of Government; 4. The Church; 5.The Nobility; 6. The Municipalities; 7. Religious Minorities; 8. The Economy; 9. Literature and Learning; 10. The Peninsular Christian States; 11. The African Crusade; 12. The Revolt of the Mudéjars; 13. The Quest for Empire; 14. The Revolt of the Nobles; 15. The Benemarines and the Succession; 16. The End of the Reign; 17. The Learned King. Each chapter is divided into often numerous subheadings, providing reference to detailed accounts.
Today, it is safe to state that the works of Alfonso are among the most researched by Hispanists: Two journals are devoted exclusively to Alfonso; critical and even facsimile editions exist for most of his works; there are copious and ongoing bibliographies; over one hundred American doctoral dissertations deal with Alfonsine matters; Alfonsine music can be heard as it is sung by several groups of singers and  instrumentalists, and a great deal is also available in recordings by well-known musicians; when Bronson created his epic film, El Cid, on the advice of Menéndez Pidal, he clothed the actors in garments copied from the miniatures of Alfonso's Cantigas de Santa María. All of this scholarly activity will benefit from O'Callaghan's book, since it provides information needed often as a reliable basis for Alfonsine research. For example, while Hispanists may be familiar with Alfonso's legal codices, Las Siete Partidas and the Espéculo, they may not have up-to-date information about the Setenario, which is now being seen a code of morality and even as a guide for princes. The same may be said with regard to the scientific works, since O'Callaghan treats not only the well-known treatises but even some with which few Hispanists are familiar. He also studies the rise of history and Alfonso's important contributions to it. His remarks about the little-known Libro de las cruces, to the effect that it may have been intended by Alfonso as a popular astrology book for all classes, shed new light on still another facet of the king's thinking.
O'Callaghan is one of the most enthusiastic of researchers who have seen the value of Alfonso's major poetic work, the Cantigas de Santa María, as a contribution to history itself. He points out the many miracle-stories which deal with the lives of members of Alfonso's family, of other historical figures, and even of his own life. Some Cantigas provide historical information found nowhere else.
Footnotes are copious and the Bibliography is unusually comprehensive. There are ten illustrations in black-and-white reproduction from the manuscripts of the Cantigas, three maps, and a genealogical table of Alfonso's line from the twelfth century. It includes his legitimate heirs and also the illegitimate, one of whom, Beatriz, married King Alfonso of Portugal, and was the mother of the well-known King Dinis.
The Learned King will serve Hispanists well.
John E. Keller
University of Kentucky
|Pedraza Jiménez, Felipe B. and Milagros Rodríguez Cáceres. Manual de literatura española. Vol. XI. Berriozar (Navarra): Cenlit, 1993.|
Rather than a single handbook as the title suggests, this well-documented and informative reference set comprises thirteen volumes (Volume I appeared in 1981 with ten more volumes published to date; volumes XII and XIII are forthcoming). While this review concentrates upon the recently published Volume XI, this reviewer has examined the complete collection. Format, approach and quality are uniform throughout. The compilation offers a new and relatively objective method of reading and analyzing original texts without slighting historical and theoretical consideration of the literary movements, works and authors throughout the history of Spanish Literature. Distribution of topics in divisions and subdivisions facilitates locating specific subjects of interest to the reader(s). Abbreviated bibliographical references appear in each section and, at the end of every chapter, in alphabetical order, complete primary and secondary references for the authors cited and studied.
Editors of the reference series have opted not to limit it to authors of the first rank, but to include considerable amounts of information concerning writers not always considered important. Relevant data on secondary figures is provided without sacrificing the detail on canonical writers and works. The first volume deals with the Edad Media; the second studies the Renacimiento; the third treats the Barroco starting with an introduction and then examines the prose and poetry of the period, while the fourth covers Baroque theater. The fifth volume delves into the maligned and neglected XVIII Century; the sixth comprises the Romantic period; and the seventh volume deals with Realism. Volume eight, one of two devoted to fin-de-siècle writers and works, provides in-depth coverage of the lyricists and playwrights of the Generación de Fin de Siglo. The compilers have opted not to divide '98 and modernismo, thereby incorporating recent critical postures recognizing the connection of both with European Modernism; another volume (the ninth) investigates prose writers of the end of the century generation. Volume ten, one of two allotted to Novecentismo y Vanguardia, contains an introduction and an examination of the period's prose writers and dramatists, while the eleventh in the collection continues with the famed lyricists of novecentismo y vanguardia. Still to be published, the remaining volumes in the collection, i. e., XII and XIII, will deal with postwar novel and essay, and poetry and theater, respectively.
Volume XI contains a general introduction to the lírica novecentista, continuing with an examination of the �Grupo Canario� (Tomás Morales and Alonso Quesada receive individual attention with further subdivisions titled �Síntesis biográfica�, �Perfil humano y literario�, �Rasgos  generales y trayectoria�, �Forma métrica y lengua poética�, in addition to analyses of poems which allow a thorough appreciation of the poets). There follows a subsection dealing with León Felipe and another treating Mellado, Camin and lesser poets. Next comes a long section dedicated to Juan Ramón and another surveying �poetas menores de la Generación de las vanguardias� (Villalón, Bacarisse, Domenchina, Del Valle, Garfias, Larrea, Hinojosa). Section four appraises Salinas, Guillén and Diego; the fifth considers Lorca and Alberti. The seventh studies Aleixandre and Cernuda while the last large section reconsiders Prados, Altolaguirre and Hernández.
The �Handbook� set in its entirety should prove exceptionally valuable to undergraduate and graduate students, but especially to teachers and those researching virtually any topic or author in Spanish literature. The copious bibliographies alone constitute remarkable assets seldom found in manuales of this sort. The compilers should be commended for their dedication and their penchant for detail which will make their work extremely valuable to Hispanists and hispanophiles for generations hence.
Genaro J. Pérez
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
|Pérez, Genaro J. La narrativa de Concha Aló: Texto, pretexto y contexto. Madrid and London: Tamesis, 1993, 95 pp.|
Although Concha Alós (b. Valencia 1922) has published a substantial number of works and is among the few women winners of the Premio Planeta, she has attracted surprisingly little critical attention, even among feminist scholars. A monograph published in Spain (Fermín Rodríguez, Mujer y sociedad: la novelística de Concha Alós, 1985) excludes the last three novels. Conversely, scholarly articles in the United States (notably those by Elizabeth Ordóñez and Lucy Lee-Bonanno) concentrate on the relatively recent and structurally innovative Os habla Electra. The most insightful feminist analysis of Alós's complete works to date, Ada Ortúzar-Young's essay in Spanish Women Writers. A BioBibliographical Source Book (Greenwood Press, 1993, pp. 23-31), was obviously unavailable to Pérez.
Correctly believing that Alós merits our study, Genaro Pérez establishes that her narrative should be viewed as an important transition between early works by the first postwar generation (Laforet, Matute, Quiroga, Medio) and those of post Franco authors, like Tusquets. He does not intend to provide an exhaustive analysis but rather an introduction that will encourage future research.
The body of Pérez's study is divided into separate chapters on the published texts: Los enanos (1962), Los cien pájaros (1963), Las hogueras (1964, Premio Planeta), El caballo rojo (1966), la madama (1969), Rey de gatos (1972, �Narraciones antropófagas�), Os habla Electra (1975), Argeo ha muerto, supongo (1982), and El asesino de los sueños (1986). For each he provides a helpful synopsis, a brief but lucid analysis of Alós's evolving narrative strategies, a discussion of her social and feminist concerns, and a running commentary on her repeated use of certain character types, motifs, symbols and intertexts. While each chapter may be read alone, Pérez carefully identifies the elements that unify Alós's oeuvre.
The strengths of Pérez's discussion, which combines various critical approaches, are many. For example, he elucidates Alós's use of dreams, symbols, and odors through appropriate references to Freud, Lacan, and Fromm. Feminist theories of Annis Pratt and Julia Kristeva are used persuasively to clarify such aspects as the presence of a green world archetype and the sexual identity problems faced by the female adolescent. Pérez places Alós's works, especially the ones related to the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, into their historical context. He also adroitly notes parallels between Alós's novels and those of Cela, Delibes, Goytisolo, and other writers.
One might quibble on minor points. There is a certain repetitiveness built into the structure of free-standing chapters. Perhaps the hint of metafictionality in Alós's works of the 1960s is less original than Pérez suggests. There are promising parallels with various other women writers that, given his book's brevity, Pérez has not explored. For example, a reading of Alós's works against those of Mercedes Salisachs -another author widely read in Spain but little studied in the U. S. -might even uncover direct influences for her alternating narrative and temporal strands and for her exploration of the fantastic.
This last observation, however, points once again to the dominant strengths of Pérez's insightful study of Alós. Surely this fine introduction will meet its goal of inspiring more research on an unjustly neglected author.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 
|Pritchett, Kay, editor and translator. Four Postmodern Poets of Spain. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 1991, 231 pp.|
To the degree that they are at all familiar with Spanish verse, readers in the United States tend to know the work of a few major figures of the 1920's and 1930's (Lorca, Guillén) on the one hand, and some examples of post-Civil War social and testimonial poetry on the other. And yet it is the more recent poetry of the �novísimos�, with its universalist vision, its fascinating way of combining allusions to prior art with references to popular culture, and its frequent metapoetic bent, that should be of special interest to those interested in contemporary letters. By making available in English the work of four of these poets, Kay Pritchett's volume fills an important need.
The volume is preceded by a short (six pages) historically-focused introduction, which accurately situates these poets against the literary climate that preceded them and calls attention to their innovative stance, and to the polemics it triggered. It also reports on the most important anthologies and critical studies of these poets, which should be most helpful for Spanish-speaking readers who wish to pursue the topic further. The selections from each poet's work are preceded by brief but very telling critical introductions. I found particularly useful Pritchett's way of highlighting key stylistic traits of each poet's work and relating them, specifically, to some of the texts included. Written with the English-speaking general reader in mind, these introductions avoid the tangential biographical material that so often dominates other anthologies, and concentrate on telling us what we need to know in order to read perceptively the poems included. Written with clarity and elegance, they are a pleasure to read.
Each of the four poets (Pere Gimferrer, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Guillermo Carnero, and Antonio Colinas) is represented by somewhere between seven and fourteen poems, printed with the English translation on pages facing the Spanish original. This excellent format will allow the reader who controls some Spanish to get a sense of the originals. The selections, in my mind, represent the poets' work about as well as can be done in this amount of space, while also containing a good number of their best-known texts (this is especially true of Carnero). The translations are on the whole extremely successful, a most difficult task given the nature of these works on the one hand, and their recondite allusiveness on the other. Pritchett's English versions are both faithful and real poetry; the teacher of a course in translation should be able to use this volume with confidence.
Andrew P. Debicki
University of Kansas
|Read, Malcolm K. Language, Text, Subtext: A Critique of Hispanism. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1992, 209 pp.|
In three books and numerous essays, Malcolm K. Read has shown impressive critical skills and a range that is nothing short of remarkable. Juan Huarte de San Juan (1981) offers a superb introduction to this complex and influential writer, physician, and precocious psychologist -and, interestingly, to Read's later projects. The Birth and Death of Language (1983) focuses on the interrelation of literary text and linguistic theory in Spain between 1300 and 1700. Visions in Exile (1990) brings psychoanalysis (and, as would follow, the body) into a study of Spanish literature and linguistics during the period of 1500 to 1800. Read is concerned with �the function of criticism�, and he regrets that the critical endeavor can avoid contact with the world beyond the text. He sees Visions in Exile as a failed venture in this regard because �the brand of utopian speculation that I was deploying remained attached in secret to the autonomous subject of bourgeois culture�.The goal of Language, Text, Subtext is to study �the human subject in Spanish criticism, literature, and linguistics in order to explore a postmodernist Marxist theory of its genesis and formation within a socioeconomic environment� (ix). Needless to say, the enterprise is difficult, for reasons both historical and methodological.
The three guiding figures -metonyms, one might say- of Language, Text, and Subtext are, arguably, Alexander A. Parker, Paul Julian Smith, and Julia Kristeva. For Read, Hispanism in Britain has been ruled by a neo-Thomist school whose proponents foreground Golden Age texts and deal in a brand of moralistic interpretation that fosters its own esthetic norms and, less conspicuously, a socio-political agenda that does not seek to challenge the status quo. Read finds a kindred spirit in the brilliant and prolific Smith, but he notes in deconstructionist re-readings of texts a tendency to exclude �the realities of institutional power, as they relate to the dominant mode of production and reproduction of material life�. Derrida leads the way to dazzling critical performances rather than to a  radical change in the order of things. Criticism without genuine historical analysis becomes perfunctory, a recuperation trapped in an isolated metadiscourse: �What I am suggesting is the need to push Smith's �bodily approach� into the conditions in which its production was �conceivable�, so as better to judge it and, more importantly, judge these conditions� (x). The historicizing process outlined by Read encompasses the institution of Hispanism as well as texts, and Kristeva's examination of signifying practice provides a model from which to survey the concept of the subject within the two domains.
The six chapters of the study are (somewhat loosely) built around Garcilaso, Calderón, Fray Martin Sarmiento, Jovellanos, Spanish modernism (the Generation of '98), and linguistic idealism (Pérez de Ayala, Guillén, Salinas). Read is a most subtle and perceptive reader, whose commentaries are uniformly engaging but, perhaps appropriately, resistant to framing. Because Kristeva's work and Read's metacommentary are so dependent on figurative language and on theoretical formulations, the search for the subject -a search that involves the linking of literature, linguistics, psychoanalysis, politics, and the gender issues that inform each of these categories- forces us to confront layer upon layer of abstraction. Marxist esthetics, a juxtaposition that some would view as oxymoronic and others would acknowledge as more oriented toward ideology than to art, might be easier to defend as a metadiscursive tool than as a critical model. While I cannot help but admire the nobility of purpose along with the critique -the critical history- of British Hispanism, and while I agree in general with the assessment of the past, I am not fully convinced that Read is not trading one predetermined notion of relevance for another. As is understandable, his subject (in every sense of the term) is elusive and made more so by what may be designated as interdisciplinary, or interdiscursive, shifts.
This is not to say, of course, that the individual parts of the study and the movement through time are other than rich and suggestive. Read places Garcilaso's favoring of art over nature in context, unfolds the mechanisms of conservatism in the baroque period (as seen through La vida es sueño), analyzes Sarmiento's quest for a universal lexicon, makes the case that Jovellanos's search for knowledge excludes self-knowledge, contemplates the �politics of inertia� in Spanish modernism (not to be confused with modernismo), and looks at the interplay of art and philosophical idealism in the first half of the twentieth-century. Language, Text, Subtext gives us a strong sense of the circumstances under which literature is created, contextualized, politicized, and evaluated. This is a book that I plan to reread, to discuss with colleagues and students, and to attempt to penetrate. I suspect that its author would believe that I have misread the projection of the subject; this may be true, but the questions raised have inspired me to revise my readings of the texts under scrutiny and to review the broader bases of Hispanism. Ultimately, Read's admonition that �no text has a meaning independent of the way in which it is worked by criticism� (53) must be applied to his study. That this may be a lemma for our historical moment (and for the foreseeable future) seems likely and, in its own way, comforting.
Edward H. Friedman
|Sharpe, Peggy. Espelho na Rua, A Cidade na Ficção de Eça de Queirós. Translated by Sebastião Moreira Duarte. Rio de Janeiro: Presença 1992, 202 pp.|
His country's foremost nineteenth century novelist and one of Europe's best writers during the eighties and nineties, Eça de Queirós usually preferred an urban milieu for his critical depiction of Portuguese society. In her study, Peggy Sharpe focuses on the role of the city as a formative influence in five of his novels, O Crime do Padre Amaro, O Primo Basílio, Os Maias, A Ilustre Casa de Ramires, and A Cidade e As Serras.
The author's point of departure is a lengthy opening chapter that summarizes the traditional views of the city to which Eça fell heir. From its appearance as a metaphor for civility in the ancient Hellenic world to its shifting significance among the Church Fathers and their concerns with secular and religious antagonisms, the city was often paired with the countryside as convenient symbols of conflicting values. Sharpe points out that the urbs-rus polarity extends well into the nineteenth century, though it does not necessarily connote a neat division between virtue and vice. With respect to its function as theme and setting in literature, the city has occasioned a variety of developments such as multiple points of view, the emergence of new characters like the bureaucrat and the sophisticated woman, and the topics of anonymity, alienation, and social role-playing. 
Eça adapted aspects of the tradition in his fascination with a rapidly growing Lisbon where provincial constraints clashed with mostly imported social innovations and �o passado estava morto [e] preocupante era o futuro� (36). Sharpe reveals Eça's ambiguous feeling as he satirized the Portuguese capital for its failure to assimilate the modern urban mode epitomized by Paris while also faulting the social mores of his countrymen for their inauthenticity. Clearly Eça �esteve continuamente desenvolvendo e amadurecendo o que sentia por Lisboa� (29-30). All the more remarkable then, are his achievements as he transformed ambiguity and disorder into striking portrayals of character and setting that continue to delight and enlighten.
Perhaps the most graphic example of social disorder is found in O Crime do Padre Amaro, the subject of the second chapter, where the very embodiment of the celestial city, the clergy, subvert their role in a pursuit of power, pleasure, and profit. In the provincial setting of Leiria, a pale reflection of Lisbon analogous to Lisbon's own relation to Paris, the priest-protagonist is here described in terms of Irving Howe's underground man who personifies �todas as sinistras qualidades da influencia urbana na sua luta pela sobrevivência� (50). The salutary influence of the worthy Father Ferrão and his promise of spiritual regeneration for the fallen Amélia in rural tranquility are no match for �Leiria e Lisboa... metáforas de Babilonia, a cidade caída� (65).
Similar is the view of Lisbon in the following chapter devoted to O Primo Basílio where the city itself becomes a persona signifying seduction and barely concealing its decadence and moral chaos behind a façade of shabby gentility. When the callow Basílio abandons his gullible cousin Luisa, we find yet another aspect of �a desumanização e a impessoalidade da cidade� (85).
For Sharpe the high point of Eça's creations, Os Maias, is also his most pessimistic novel. The relevant chapter centers on Lisbon as a mirror of �a vida pervertedora�. However the surrounding countryside is no less corrupt, and Eça's immense social mural reveals not a single character to mitigate �o pessimismo e a ruina que o Autor prevê na tragédia nacional� (106).
A single chapter considers the last two novels, which many critics perceive as Eça's tribute to Portugal's traditional values, antidotes to modern social ills and a triumph of rural life over city ways. To be sure, both protagonists appear in full reaction to urban life and apparently reject many of the views once espoused by a younger Eça. Sharpe observes, however, that when Gonçalo, in A Ilustre Casa de Ramires breaks with Lisbon and its political corruption, he also rejects the rural past as �arcaica, tradicional, e decadente� (170). Similarly, Jacinto in A Cidade e As Serras does not really resolve Eça's ambiguities concerning the antinomies implied by Portuguese provincialism and French sophistication, the clash of city and country, the conflicts between capitalism and socialism, or the relation of present to the past (175). Even the dénouement of marriage fails to qualify as a happy ending for Sharpe, who finds a continued reliance on the epilogue, a device in all five novels that defies tidy resolution.
In her often provocative analysis of an important writer, Peggy Sharpe shares her considerable insight and the results of wide reading in her generous bibliography. The (inevitable?) typos mar only a few passages, and the translation does not obscure her limpid presentation. To be sure, one might question whether O Primo Basílio really represents �a primeira e a única tentativa de Eça em escrever um romance de tese� (69) in light of O Crime do Padre Amaro, which permits �interpretações paralelas, a nivel simbólico� (78). And one wonders why A Capital is absent in a book dealing with the city in Eça's fiction. Such reservations aside, though, Espelho na Rua is a useful contribution to the critical corpus on Eça.
Richard A. Preto-Rodas
University of South Florida
|Villanueva, Darío. Teorías del realismo literario. Madrid: Instituto de España, Espasa Calpe, 1992, 231 pp.|
La relación entre realidad y literatura es un tema difícil y espinoso que siempre ha preocupado a los estudiosos y teóricos de la literatura por ser clave fundamental para entender toda manifestación literaria. El presente trabajo de Darío Villanueva ofrece un estudio exhaustivo y pormenorizado de la evolución a lo largo de la historia de las diferentes teorías sobre el realismo como fenómeno Literario. Su penetrante repaso crítico abarca desde el concepto de mimesis propuesto por Aristóteles en su Poética, a la construcción del realismo decimonónico, revisando los planteamientos formalistas, estructuralistas, semióticos y fenomenológicos, hasta llegar a las teorías de la recepción y la deconstrucción. Bajo el planteamiento de Darío Villanueva, el realismo literario supera los límites convencionales de períodos o escuelas determinadas;  para el autor, el realismo es la misma base del fenómeno literario.
Para neutralizar la gran ambigüedad polisémica en la utilización crítica del término �realismo� Villanueva emprende su tarea crítica con un ejemplar rigor metodológico. Así distingue los diversos niveles de significación que el término �realismo� comprende, atendiendo a tres principios generales proporcionados por la filosofía, la estética y el lenguaje. El autor analiza cuidadosamente los planteamientos filosóficos clásicos sobre el concepto de �mimesis�, distinguiendo entre el concepto de �imitación� de los ideales universales que Platón atribuía a las artes, y el concepto aristotélico de �mimesis� como �representación� directa de la realidad. El interés del autor no se reduce a un modo particular de representación desde el punto de vista estético (tal como el realismo decimonónico o con cualquier otra adjetivación crítica) sino por el realismo como característica general de todas las obras literarias, la �constante mimética del arte que mira y reproduce creativamente la realidad� (25).
Villanueva centra su análisis en el estudio reconciliatorio de las divergentes posturas en torno al realismo literario que se polarizan en las posiciones de la autonomía del arte y del arte como reflejo de la realidad, posiciones en primera apariencia mutuamente excluyentes que el autor denomina respectivamente la falacia estética (o formal) y la falacia mimética (o genética). Villanueva reconoce que la obra literaria se rige por sus propias normas y por lo tanto tiene un cierto grado de autonomía con respecto a la realidad externa. Sin embargo también es plenamente consciente de las enormes determinaciones de la realidad sobre la obra literaria. Es la intención del autor intentar deshacer esta maniquea disyuntiva. Con tal propósito Villanueva realiza un impecable estudio arqueológico del desarrollo de estas divergentes tendencias teórico-críticas: el realismo genético y el realismo formal.
En el primer capítulo Villanueva hace un repaso de los diversos planteamientos que tienen cabida dentro del realismo genético. Allí cabrían no solamente aquellos que promueven una identificación simple y directa de la realidad con el texto literario. También se acogen las teorías del realismo como revelación de realidad, como fragmento seleccionado de realidad �intensificador y totalizador� (47). Igualmente, bajo la óptica del realismo socialista promovido por Lukács, se interpone entre realidad y obra literaria un tercer elemento modalizador que es la interpretación ideológica marxista. Esta relación sistematizada en una serie de específicas convenciones prácticas coincide con la función del �interpretante� como unidad cultural de la teoría semiótica. En otras palabras, la relación que se establece no es una correspondencia directa entre palabras y objetos o conceptos, sino que la relación entre aquéllas y éstos viene mediatizada por unos sistemas de signos que son unidades textuales preestablecidas. Esta revelación pone de relieve la naturaleza socialmente construida de la realidad, teoría que ha llegado a alcanzar carácter axiomático en el pensamiento postmoderno. La verosimilitud, rasgo fundamental del realismo, es un efecto de la experiencia colectiva de la realidad, que como tal no es invariable sino que se modifica según las diferentes coordenadas culturales.
El segundo capítulo está dedicado al realismo formal o inmanente que se opone al realismo genético del capítulo anterior caracterizado por exigir una �hermeneútica de reconstrucción� de la correspondencia entre realidad y literatura. Por el contrario, este realismo formal se caracteriza por la �distinción estética� de abstraer todos los elementos no estéticos del texto literario (origen, intencionalidad, función). Villanueva repasa las teorías inmanentistas del realismo formal, desde el realismo formal puro de Flaubert hasta las posiciones deconstruccionistas de Derrida. Esta vertiente del realismo subraya la prevalencia del subjetivismo, del relativismo fenomenológico sobre la epistemología positivista. Si en el realismo genético el escritor era observador y experimentador de la realidad, bajo el realismo formal el escritor pasa a ser creador de su propia realidad, imitador únicamente de Dios en su capacidad creadora. Bajo esta óptica, la literatura no es una trasposición de la realidad, sino meramente una ilusión de la realidad basada en códigos y convenciones artísticas. El realismo formal es así también resultado de una construcción. Todo ello parece corroborar la actual tendencia creativa a sustituir el principio mimético por el principio constructivo. Villanueva subraya los excesos del realismo formal, asumiendo su propia pasada complicidad en la práctica del formalismo estructuralista, reconociendo que como efecto de rechazo se ha producido un retorno general a la referencialidad del texto literario. Villanueva se plantea la superación de ambos realismos reductores por medio de la atención a la recepción de la obra literaria por parte del lector, el elemento ausente en el realismo genético y formal. Para ello se apoya en la fenomenología de la literatura (Ingarden), la teoría de la respuesta  estética (Iser) y la función lúdica (Gadamer).
En el tercer capítulo, se ahonda en la problemática planteada por la fenomenología y la pragmática de la literatura como posibles soluciones a la genética del autor y la inmanencia del texto. El concepto de intencionalidad compartida (por autor y lector) abre una vía en el callejón sin salida de la �falacia intencional� al reconocer que la ficcionalidad es un fenómeno contractual entre ambas partes. El pacto de ficción se constituye sobre la convicción de que los discursos ficcionales son actos ilocutorios sin verificación ya que los �mundos posibles� ficcionales son construidos por los mismos actos de habla. La intersección de los mundos del autor y del lector comunica los campos de referencia interno y externo del texto literario. Esto lleva a una teoría del realismo literario que tiene presente la dialéctica entablada entre una enunciación, un receptor y un referente, en la que la función cooperativa del lector aporta el punto de encuentro entre ambos campos.
En el capítulo 4 Villanueva propone un nuevo modelo para entender el fenómeno del realismo literario cuyo esquema comprende a la vez el realismo genético y el realismo formal y que en su nueva totalidad conforma lo que él denomina el realismo intencional, basado en el modo de lectura o �respuesta natural� del lector. Este es el realismo que Villanueva subscribe. En su teoría intencional la responsabilidad final recae sobre el destinatario o lector del texto literario. En él, y no en el texto, reside la �ilusión referencial�, la capacidad de actualización de los mundos ficticios por parte del lector, la cual indudablemente se ve limitada por instituciones, convenciones y prácticas sociales.
En el último capítulo Villanueva se plantea las razones que configuran la productividad realista, las bases del efecto de realidad de un texto literario. Para ello acude nuevamente a la retórica y la pragmática, problematizando el status realista de otros géneros como el teatro y la poesía. En el debate teórico sobre las relaciones entre literatura y realidad Villanueva se inclina finalmente por aceptar el efecto de actualización de la realidad por parte de la obra literaria, no de su mera reproducción.
Es imposible hacer justicia al bagaje de erudición ampliamente demostrado en este estudio y puesto al servicio de un profundo replanteamiento de un tema tan central en los estudios literarios como el abarcado. Los numerosos textos teóricos citados y comentados conforman un rico diálogo crítico en el que tienen cabida las diversas tradiciones críticas europeas y americanas. Baste decir que el trabajo es un valioso compendio y una espléndida puesta al día de los planteamientos críticos fundamentales en torno al realismo literario.
LATIN AMERICAN LITERATURE
|Alfaro-Alexander, Ana María., Hacia la modernización de la narrativa peruana: el grupo Palermo. New York: University of Texas, Series in Contemporary Spanish American Fiction, 1992, 256 pp.|
Pocos estudios se han dedicado al rescate de los escritores peruanos de la llamada �Generación del 50� (1955-1975), que incluye a la vez a poetas y prosistas neo-indigenistas y narradores urbanos. Es al segundo grupo que Alfaro Alexander llamará �grupo Palermo� y consagrará su estudio analítico, versión de la tesis doctoral de la autora.
Antecedente de escritores como Mario Vargas Llosa, según Alfaro, el grupo no sólo coincide cronológicamente, sino que mantiene una homogeneidad temática y estilística. El enfoque de la crítica será sociológico, y se delineará siguiendo los preceptos de la antropología cultural (ya expuestos en la obra de José María Arguedas), en discursos cuyo tema y localización geográfica será la ciudad de lima.
El volumen está estructurado en nueve secciones anunciadas en el Índice pero sin numeración formal de capítulos en el texto. La primera, la dedica a una breve introducción con una concisa explicación del propósito del libro; la segunda, discute el trasfondo social e histórico de El Perú desde los años cuarenta hasta los sesenta, décadas en que lima �se convierte en una gran urbe, llena de problemas, tugurizada en sus barrios miserables, rica y ampulosa en sus zonas residenciales, caótica en sus centros comerciales�. El espacio de ciudad empobrecida plagada por la delincuencia juvenil, será el escenario creativo del �grupo Palermo�, y sus metas abarcarán la modernización y revitalización de la novela y el cuento siguiendo técnicas aprendidas de escritores hispanoamericanos como Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Miguel Ángel Asturias y Juan Rulfo; y norteamericanos o europeos como James Joyce, Franz Kafka, William Faulkner y Ernest Hemingway. Las secciones tercera a séptima estudian individualmente las obras de los cinco miembros del grupo: Enrique Congrains Martín, Oswaldo Reynoso.  Julio Ramón Ribeyro, Sebastián Salazar Bondy y Carlos Eduardo Zavaleta. Las secciones octava y novena presentan respectivamente, las conclusiones y la bibliografía.
Alfaro-Alexander enumera meticulosamente la cronología y los títulos de las colecciones de cuentos y novelas al comienzo de cada sección informando y simplificando la labor del lector; la crítica enmarca su discusión principalmente dentro de conceptos teóricos de los discursos socio-histórico y etnográfico, entretejidos con preceptos bajtinianos, a la vez que profundiza en los mecanismos técnicos de construcción del discurso literario. Alfaro-Alexander escudriña la relación ideológica, temática y estilística de los escritores del �grupo Palermo�, examinando un vasto corpus literario que exhibe las contradicciones de la vida urbana limeña desde la perspectiva de un narrador marginado (indio-mestizo-pobre). En el proceso, el discurso de �Palermo� dibuja la jerarquización socio-cultural y económica como mecanismo político de denuncia y desmitificación de la clase media y de la burguesía limeña.
Si bien la discusión del texto como un instrumento socio-antropológico no es novedosa, especialmente dentro del marco crítico de la literatura latinoamericana de los años cincuenta, Alfaro-Alexander logra, sin embargo, recuperar y analizar las obras de cinco escritores peruanos bajo una perspectiva común. Hacia la modernización de la literatura peruana es una obra de consulta indispensable para los que se interesan en la literatura peruana.
Isabel R. Vergara
The George Washington University
|Balderston, Daniel. Out of Context: Historical Reference and the Representation of Reality in Borges. Durham: Duke University Press, 1993, 216 pp.|
Daniel Balderston's new book on Borges opens repeating the widely held belief that Borges' work is abstract and devoid of any relationship to history, politics, and society, especially in Latin America. �I am convinced�, says Balderston, �that the consensus is profoundly mistaken, and that Borges... cannot but write out of context... His writing is intimately marked by the experience of twentieth-century Argentine history and politics [and] by life in Europe during World War I and just after� (15). In a dazzling display of scholarly research, Balderston tracks down references obvious and oblique in seven of Borges' best-known short stories (�Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote�, �El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan�, �El milagro secreto�, �Historia del guerrero y de la cautiva�, �Guayaquil�, �La escritura del dios�, and �El hombre en el umbral�). �What I propose to do�, he says, �is to show how an imaginative reading of Borges' texts that is attentive to historical and political context can discover implications in those texts that considerably complicate the picture we have had up to now of the 'postulation of reality' in Borges� (5). The results are impressive and offer a new perspective on the stories of Ficciones and El Aleph.
The chapter on �Pierre Menard� is a model of its kind. In the story Menard, it will be remembered, manages to create fragments of three chapters (9, 22, and 38) of the Quijote. Chapter 9 is the most memorable for the reader because of the mirth produced when Borges' narrator quotes from it and then compares it to the (identical) passage in Cervantes. Balderston, however, argues that �The most important of the three chapters... is chapter 38, the discourse of arms and letters� (23), and proceeds to gloss an enormous array of references relating to writers, historical figures, texts, and events linked to World War I and the question of war. �The 'arms and letters' debate�, concludes Balderston, �was never so pertinent... Who but Menard would have had the bravura to cast the question in those terms?� (38).
But there is another facet to Balderston's method, which he describes toward the end of the book: �What I have done, very slowly, quite imperfectly, with a sense of my own inadequacies to the task, is to replicate the intellectual operations of a man of incredible genius� (135). (Ironically, this is precisely the method that Menard first considers, then rejects). It is this approach that Balderston uses in his study of �La escritura del dios�. Rather than studying the story against the backdrop of what is known of Mayan culture, he examines it in light of what Borges might have known of Mayan culture (�I propose... to reconstruct what Borges could have known about Mayan culture in 1949 when the story was published� ). The results are no less interesting and significant than in the chapter on Menard.
The thoroughness and sheer effort involved in this impressive book cannot but leave the reader with a certain sense of inadequacy. �The reason Borges's critics have failed him in this regard�, Balderston explains, �is largely due to the tremendous range and rather scattered nature of his erudition... his critic must be prepared  to look at widely varied sources in the various languages... that the writer knew� (57). It is a daunting challenge, no doubt and one that Balderston himself fulfills admirably.
Yet, for all its thoroughness, for all the wealth of detail, there is something missing here. The introduction claims it will discuss the �historical and political context� of the stories (5); yet, except for one or two brief moments, nowhere in this book are Borges' own political background and beliefs discussed. Would these not provide a context for the stories every bit as important as the historical personages and events that are explicated? It might be argued that this work purposely chooses to limit itself to external historical and political references. This, clearly, is not the case, as we have seen in his description of the method used (�...to replicate the intellectual operations of a man...�). Balderston himself suggests that a study of the political ideology behind the stories would be pertinent when he says of �Historia del guerrero y de la cautiva� that it is �A story in which Borges set out clearly enough his political difficulties in 1947-48� (96). But the discussion stops there. Balderston does, however, have a stance on Borges' political views: �The argument often made about his participation in Argentine politics, particularly his nasty turn to the right in reaction to a Peronism that he could only see as a homegrown fascism, should not obscure the fact that earlier in his career... his sympathies were those of a post-Enlightenment liberal intellectual, with the inborn limitations of the breed but without the nastiness for which he was later (and quite properly) reproached� (136). But Out of Context does not attempt to show that that these political views are present in the stories or form part of their background and context. Though several critics (Gene Bell, Jean Franco, Jean Andreu, Emir Rodríguez Monegal, and Julio Rodríguez Luis among them) have made initial efforts at studying the political ideology behind Borges' work, a more complete study focusing on the best-known work in Ficciones and El Aleph remains to be done.
Despite this lacuna, Out of Context is an important contribution to the large and growing bibliography on Borges. Daniel Balderston puts to rest once and for all the myth that Borges was a writer of fantastic literature who was out of touch with the world around him. Out of Context will no doubt prove to be a work of lasting importance.
|Beardsell, Peter. A Theatre for Cannibals, Rodolfo Usigli and the Mexican Stage. London and Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1992, 242 pp.|
Until recently no book-length study existed of the drama by Rodolfo Usigli (1905-1979), Mexico's foremost XXth century playwright. In spite of the fact that his work had attracted significant but isolated critical attention, reflected mostly in doctoral dissertations and journal articles, a good deal of his work had not been studied or had received only marginal treatment. The publication of Fernando Carlos Vevia Romero, La sociedad mexicana en el teatro de Rodolfo Usigli (1990), INBA/CITRU, Rodolfo Usigli Ciudadano del teatro. Memoria de los homenajes a Rodolfo Usigli 1990 y 1991 (1992), Daniel Meyran, El discurso teatral de Rodolfo Usigli (1993), and Peter Beardsell's A Theatre for Cannibals. Rodolfo Usigli and the Mexican Stage constitute a good start in the development of a body of criticism covering the artistic contribution made by this important Mexican playwright. Of the four titles, A Theatre for Cannibals is likely to remain as the most accessible and comprehensive study of Usigli's work. In it the author sets out to �reach some understanding of his theatre as a whole through a selection of the most representative and most interesting pieces� (8). The result is a very thorough and carefully thought out analysis of Usigli's central works.
The book is divided into eight chapters, each containing detailed commentary on the socio-historical relevance and the thematic, structural and symbolic aspects of representative plays. The first and the last chapters are of a more general nature covering Usigli's dramatic theories and his preoccupation with universal themes, while the other six are dedicated to the close examination of about one third of Usigli's total dramatic production. The first chapter, �Building a Theatre�, traces the evolution of Usigli's dramatic theories; it also establishes a close parallel between his artistic project and the early stages in the development of the modern Mexican theatre movement. The next four chapters are organized thematically according to Usigli's interest in social and political issues while the next two deal with his treatment of psychological and historical subjects. The last chapter, �The Wider Perspective�, is dedicated to Usigli's focus on more universal, non-Mexican themes.
As the author explains, A Theatre for Cannibals  is a work �prompted by a spirit of inquiry rather than the exposition of a thesis or the testing of a literary theory� (8). In other words, its critical approach is strictly analytical and interpretive, without much reliance on contemporary critical and theoretical methods. Much to his credit, such a traditional, subjective approach does not prevent the writer from conducting a most probing and revealing examination of Usigli's best works. In reality, the conceptual framework or �critical emphasis� which the reader can discern in this study is the exploration of the performative potential and sociological relevance of the literary text as revealed in Usigli's drama. The result of this line of inquiry is quite successful. This reviewer was particularly impressed with the extensive analysis of El gesticulador and of the Corona trilogy and with the exquisitely detailed reading of the social and psychological plays.
This study is of consistently high quality in terms of the discussion of individual plays and the use of biographical and socio-political background. It is also elegantly and very clearly written. It is marred by an occasional misspelling (crítico , avocado , Vera Cruz [47 and 165], ponder , niebal , nuna , Francisco A. Luneli for Francisco A. Lomelí [230 and 234]); mistranslation (�empty� weapon for �arma... blanca� ; or inaccuracy (La última puerta was performed in 1973 in the Teatro Jiménez Rueda ). The use of critical terms such as satire, melodrama, metatheater, and farce is, at times, vague and imprecise. In one instance, elements commonly associated with epic theater are incorrectly described as �documentary drama� (39-40). The choice of a title for this study is not a very apt one either. Although the phrase �A theater for cannibals� originates in one of Usigli's own characterizations of the Mexican stage, it has little to do with the tenor and scope of this particular book. It may even prove confusing to Latin Americanists accustomed to the avantgarde concept of �antropofagia� in Brazilian Modernist literature. Finally, the reader may find it puzzling to discover that there is no conclusion at the end of the book.
All these minor problems notwithstanding, A Theatre for Cannibals is an important addition to the Usigli bibliography and a most valuable contribution to the study of modern Mexican drama.
|Dauster, Frank. Perfil generacional del teatro hispanoamericano (1894-1924): Chile, México, Río de la Plata. Girol Books, Colección Telón: Ottawa, 1993, 245 pp.|
This text is not an historical overview nor is it an attempt to apply New Criticism to the Hispanic American theatre. Its title is a credible indication of its purpose and contents -this is a study of the extent to which the so-called generational theory may be applied to the Hispanic American theatre. After the Introduction, Chapter 1 discusses what the author refers to as �La Problemática Generacional�, Chapter 2 is devoted to the Generation of 1894 and is offered as background to understand best the succeeding chapters devoted to the theater of the generation of 1924 in Río de la Plata, Mexico, and Chile. Chapter 6, �Reflexiones finales�, is followed by thirteen pages of Notes and the seventeen-page Bibliography, conveniently arranged under the headings of General and Theory, Río de la Plata, Mexico, and Chile. Dauster completes the referential material with a nine-page Index of Works Discussed.
The author employs the generational theory developed by Arrom in Esquema generacional de las letras hispanoameriranas: Ensayo de un método, and his approach is a straight-forward, careful reading of the works of the principal dramatists of the generation of 1924 in the three regions. The focus is on common denominators and differences in the writers' life experiences and how they are expressed in their works for the stage.
Dauster makes his characteristically exhaustive analysis of the material under study. The clarity and depth to which he fathoms the existing essays devoted to the generational approaches to literature, including the theatre, are exceptional. A major result of the study is his clear, persuasive argument that the two major criticisms of the generational theory -that it is inflexible and given to rigid biological determinism- simply are not true. This volume is worthwhile for this contribution alone. The subsequent commentary and defense of Arrom's theory, including the thirty-year span for each generation, is likewise convincing and becomes the critical basis for the readers as they turn to the specifics of each of the dramatists and theatres under study.
Dauster devotes his generational profile to the theatres in Argentina, Mexico and Chile, he says, because the processes that lead to these three theatres are so diverse and complicated  that they offer the best scenario for testing Arrom's theory in general and for the 1924 Generation in particular. Chapters 3, 4 and 5, which take up those theatres separately, are true gems of scholarship. Herein Dauster delves into the societal and individual factors that combined to produce the best of the Generation in each region/country. As he passes from one author/work to another, often in relatively lengthy commentary, the validity of the generational theory begins to emerge. The discussion clearly shows that, even though the theatre of the Generation of 1924 in each of these countries/regions did not always follow the same process, in the end they are essentially similar. In each the process began with a tension between the established theatre of the preceding generation and the theatre originating with the populace; in each the process was affected by the immediate political environment and process; and each resulted in an initial response to the realism that characterized the generation's initial works for the stage. In Río de la Plata and Mexico there was a reaction to realism that eventually led to a stylized anti-realistic expression (that in Mexico even admitted a strong autochthonus expression) and, in Chile the theatre proceeded from its initial realistic expression to a more refined expression of the same.
This is a work that very few, perhaps only Dauster, would be qualified or prepared to write; it is based on a career dedicated to the genre and on the determination to bring Hispanic American theater to popular and critical attention. Whether one is a casual reader or a serious student of the genre, Dauster's writings have always been a first source of dependable critical evaluation and original insights. This work will stand as one of his most important of his contributions to the study of theatre. We hope his projected continuation of this study, volumes devoted to the Generations of 1954 and 1984, are not long in coming.
Robert J. Morris
|Heusinkveld, Paula. The Mexicans: An Inside View of a Changing Society. Worthington, OH: Renaissance Publications, 1993, 105 pp.|
|Rodríguez, Jaime E., editor. The Evolution of the Mexican Political System. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1993, 322 pp.|
Although these two books deal with Mexico, they could not be more different: one is popular, the other, scholarly; one is drawn from personal experience, the other, from specialized archives; one seeks broad interrelationships, the other maintains the �autonomy� of discrete disciplines. Yet, each in its own way contributes to a greater understanding of Mexico.
The Mexicans is a practical guide for United States students and businesspeople likely to be dealing with middle-class Mexicans. It covers with good sense and humor topics such as family, language, religion, machismo, work, buena presentación, hospitality, the arts and music. The reader learns that in Mexican culture Sunday is family day; work is not synonymous with personal identity; machismo is alive and well despite changing times; polite people will tell you what they think you want to hear; mealtime is an important social occasion; and good grooming and polite manners are essential to getting along from day to day.
Sometimes the author overemphasizes middle-class propriety as when she cautions that �well-bred Mexican women avoid swearing in mixed company� (17), and underemphasizes more deeply embedded realities, such as the pervasive power of machismo. Though Heusinkveld observes that the use of contraceptives and the presence of strong female roles on TV are instigating change, machismo remains an explosive minefield for U. S. women and men trying to negotiate their way through the complexities of Mexican culture.
The Mexicans prepares U. S. visitors well for a way of looking at the world that is likely to be quite different from their own. One of the most readily apparent differences is that Americans tend to see a relationship between hard work and success (indeed this belief is basic both to U. S. history and its mystique), while Mexicans view the relationship as more between privilege, favoritism, or palanca (pull), and success. Another fundamental difference becomes apparent when the irresistible force of the U. S. future orientation meets the immovable object of Mexican present-mindedness, rendering discussions of planning both hilarious and frustrating. These disparate attitudes stem from opposing notions of the power of the individual: the U. S. view champions the role of the individual in shaping the future, while the Mexican view features the overwhelming authority of destiny and fate. The Mexican conviction that things �just happen� regardless of hard work, virtue, individual responsibility, or careful planning requires openness and flexibility on the part of U. S. visitors. Those who remain receptive to other ways of  thinking and being will broaden their own world view and attain a deeper access to Mexican culture; those who do not will be blocked from the outset.
This book does not deal with the isolated Indian, the ambitious �yuppie�, or the ubiquitous street vendor; rather, it focuses on the attitudes and behaviors commonly held by many of those Mexicans in between. Within these limits, it provides a handy, concise, and illuminating overview of Mexican culture.
At the other end of the spectrum lies The Evolution of the Mexican Political System, a collection of essays stressing the urban, gradual nature of political change. Thus, rather than featuring revolutionary figures or the role of the rural masses in bringing about breaks with the past, these essays examine constitutions, elections, and political parties in order to show the sequential and autonomous nature of Mexican political history.
Essays on the nineteenth century treat the evolution of independent political institutions. The interesting essay by editor Jaime Rodríguez discusses the Mexican Constitution of 1824 and considers the links between that document and the earlier Spanish model. Christon Archer shows how the army of New Spain developed decentralized counterinsurgency groups during the War of Independence, while Virginia Guedea demonstrates the importance of the elections of 1812 in offering an alternative to armed revolt. Barbara Tenenbaum deals with the political and economic importance of the northern provinces to newly-independent Mexico. Elisabetta Bertola, Marcello Carmagnani, and Paolo Riguzzi treat the two phases of nineteenth century liberalism -triumphant and inert- and demonstrate how the latter excluded certain groups from power. Romana Falcón describes the changing nature of the jefes políticos, from mediators between national and state governments to obstacles to progress.
Essays on the twentieth century describe how the country came under national control after the Revolution of 1910. Álvaro Matute highlights the role of Calles in the creation of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario to replace powerful caudillos. Alicia Hernández emphasizes the contribution of Cárdenas in modernizing and institutionalizing the political system; she maintains that the presidencialismo model carried within it the seeds of authoritarianism. Arturo Sánchez covers the national consolidation of political power by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional in the 1950's, while Roderic Ai Camp attributes the serious problems of the PRI in the 1980's to the deep disillusionment produced by the massacre of students and others in 1968.
Historians Paul Vanderwood and Steven Topik provide concluding comments. The former observes that the essays �put the state and politics back into social history� (266), while the latter remarks that they �have extracted politics from its social context� (288). One wonders with Topik why this would be considered a virtue. But even within their own severely internalist political approach, as Topik points out, the authors could have illuminated the workings of the political system beyond elections, parties, and officials. However, while this collection leaves many intriguing political questions untouched, it clearly achieves its main purpose in presenting a strong case for the crucial role of urban institutions and groups in the evolution of Mexico's political system.
Denis L. Heyck
Loyola University Chicago
|Marting, Diane E., editor. Clarice Lispector: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1993, 327 pp.|
Diane E. Marting's special project has been the compilation of useful information about Latin American women writers. Her earliest undertaking, begun in 1978, gathered very basic information. With the rise of women's studies, many scholars realized how little they knew of Latin American women authors and their works. Marting began the listings eventually published as the 1987 Women Writers of Spanish America: An Annotated Bio-Bibliographical Guide. This catalog of names, bibliographies, and summaries of works was raw information, but a real starting place for researchers. Marting's 1990 Spanish American Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Source Book ably coordinated data and commentary. Fifty chapters by various authors presented fifty Spanish American women writers and their work, plus coverage of Indian women writers and U. S. Latina writers. This compilation succeeds largely because the critics selected are so well attuned to the authors they discuss.
Clarice Lispector; A Bio-Bibliography is the second volume in Greenwood's series Bio-Bibliographies in World literature.
Designed so as to be usable by readers who know no Portuguese, it provides a useful, orienting characterization of the author and her writing  as well as a bibliography of works by and about her. Lispector (Brazil, 1920?-1977) is an apt choice for such a detailed bibliographic treatment, especially since no previous bibliographer has attempted the job. Not only has an abundant critical bibliography grown around her work, but also Lispector studies have increasingly engaged broad, important issues in literary criticism, such as the effort to identify a hypothesized �women's writing�. At the same time, Lispector's ouvre is difficult to sort out for bibliographic description; Marting calls it �little short of a nightmare� (xx) in this regard. Lispector often cannibalized her own earlier publications, so that the contents of one volume sometimes overlap those of another. She wrote a good deal of now-forgotten journalism. Not only did she occasionally use pseudonyms, but some titles published under her name may not be entirely her work. For information about work Lispector left unpublished at her death, critics depend largely on the word of her literary executor Olga Borelli. Marting succinctly explains these confusing circumstances and how she dealt with them.
Clarice Lispector opens with a general presentation of the author and her writing. Part A then offers brief essays on her works, including her children's stories, written by various Lispector critics. Each essay is followed by a list of editions, an annotated (where possible) register of translations, and an annotated bibliography of criticism. The last sections of Part A proficiently classify and describe the murkiest portions of Lispector's oeuvre, such as her translations -with some rewriting- of others' works, her publicly accessible correspondence, her uncollected journalism, and the posthumous work that Borelli published in her book on Lispector. Part B lists adaptations, such as dramatizations and film versions, of Lispector's work, homages to the author, and Lispector criticism not focused on any single work.
Clarice Lispector: A Bio-Bibliography is a highly competent and knowledgeable guide through a great deal of information, some of it difficult to obtain or incomplete and unreliable, especially concerning some thorny questions of attribution. Any bibliography that approaches exhaustive coverage of an author's writing has a few absurd moments, such as the listing here of a letter in which Lispector grants a reader's request for advice on dating. While the bibliography lists some undeniably obscure and ephemeral items, readers can easily skip these sections in favor of the chapters on well-recognized works. Clarice Lispector gives a good sense of who Lispector was, including in its prefatory matter a personal memoir by the respected novelist Nélida Piñón. (A reproduction of one of the many portraits of the dramatic-looking Lispector, whose appearance is alluded to more than once in the text would have been useful.) It is an expert compilation and will be helpful to specialists, but it can also be used by readers just beginning to know Lispector. Going well beyond any existing Lispector bibliography, Marting's compilation can be enthusiastically recommended for acquisition by libraries and students of Lispector's work.
University of Texas at Austin
|Pedraza Jiménez, Felipe B. Ed. Manual de literatura hispanoamericana: I. Época virreinal and II. Siglo XIX. Berriozar (Navarra): Cenlit Ediciones, 1991. 2 vols.|
Much of Western literature comes from the contributions of the Hispanic World. To give a history of the literature of Spain and of Spanish America is daunting; therefore efforts in the past have never equaled the present series with the two umbrella titles, Manual de literatura española and Manual de Literatura hispanoamérica. Three inclusive histories, all of the 20th century, suggest both lineage and continuity.
The earliest appears to be Julio Cejador y Frauca's fourteen volume Historia de la lengua y literatura castellana... (1915-1922). Thirty years later, Guillermo Díaz-Plaja published his Historia general de las literaturas hispánicas in seven volumes (1949-1968). Finally Emilio Díez Echarri, the nearest predecessor to Manual de literatura, came out with his Historia de la literatura española e hispanoamericanas in 1960. A twentieth century endeavor, the encompassing histories, always in Spanish and compiled by Spaniards, generally are spaced by an average of twenty-five years. And the volume under review here continues the pattern.
The scope of the series Manual de literatura española is enormous. While the thirteen volumes for the peninsula cover the Middle Ages to the post Civil War, the ones for Spanish America consist of the two under evaluation here, La época virreinal and El siglo XIX plus four more projected volumes: Modernismo, La época de las vanguardias, La época contemporánea: introducción, poesía, teatro and La época contemporánea: prosa. The general editors are Felipe B. Pedraza Jiménez and Milagros  Rodríguez Cáceres with each volume assigned to a staff of Spanish experts on the period under focus.
Each tome naturally follows a similar format: an introduction, the period in context, and then a series of chapters suited to the materials. In fact the index indicates that the chapters have numbered subdivisions making for easy retrieval. Each major section is then followed by two bibliographies, works cited and others of interest. In addition to the very detailed table of contents, an index of authors and anonymous works further accesses the materials.
The first volume, Época virreinal, tests the entire series for Spanish America not only as the first volume for this continent, but also in its focus on the colonial period, the subject of much research in the last twenty years. The volume editors, Gala Blasco, Juan Antonio Bueno, Celsa-Carmen García Valdés, Luigi Giuliano, Histos Hurtado, Consuelo López, Pilar Pedraza Jiménez, Melquíades Prieto, Arturo Ramoneda and Fernando Rayo, have divided the volume into seven chapters: 1. La época virreinal, 2. La prosa del siglo XVI, 3. Poesía lírica y épica del siglo XVI, 4. Poesía lírica y épica del siglo XVII, 5. La prosa barroca, 6. El teatro en los siglos XVI y XVII and 7. Literatura del siglo XVIII. Each chapter is then further subdivided and accessed, e. g., under the first chapter, La época virreinal, can be found 1. 2. Contexto socio-cultural, 1. 2. 1. 1. Palabras preliminares, 1. 2. 1. 2. La impronta del descubrimiento en la sociedad, 1. 2. 1. 3. El aliento económico del descubrimiento, etc. This pattern of careful subdivision and access is repeated throughout the volume.
The value lies in the recency of the publication, the extreme care with organization and the editors' efforts to coordinate the Spanish literatures of both continents, and the liberal interpretation of the term literature. The volumes at hand allow for an easier retrieval of materials than any of the three histories mentioned earlier. The greatest difference, however, from earlier histories is the broadness of the interpretation in giving the user an interdisciplinary approach to the literature. Certain (sub) chapters affirm this totality: �La lengua en Hispanoamérica durante la época colonial�, �Médicos y naturalistas�, �Condiciones socio-políticas�, �Cultura y enseñanza�, and �La prosa científica�.
It appears obvious, however, that editors and associate editors limited a large part of their research to Spain. A perusal of colonial Spanish American literature in the Handbook of Latin American Studies from 1979 to 1986 reveals the absence of more recent and American sources. Omissions of this type include Rolena Adorno's From Oral to Written Expression -Native Andean Chronicles of the Early Period (1982) and Guaman Poma: Writing and Resistance in Colonial Perú (1986), Beatriz Pastor Bodmer's Discurso narrativo de la conquista de América: ensayo (1983), Hernán Vidal's Socio-historia de la literatura colonial hispanoamericanas (1985), and Julie Greer Johnson's Women in Colonial Spanish American Literature: Literary Images (1983). With the focus on the colonial period in the last twenty years, especially as noted in U. S. scholarship, the editors should have availed themselves of more recent sources.
Siglo XIX follows the format of careful arrangement into the following chapters: 1. La literatura hispanoamericanas en su contexto, 2. La lírica romántica, 3. La novela romántica, 4. La novela realista, 5. La poesía de la segunda mitad del siglo XIX, 6. El teatro, and 7. Pensamiento y ensayo. Editors Eugenio Alonso Martín, Gala Blasco, Juan Antonio Bueno, Jesús-Antonio Capellán de la Cruz, Consuelo López, Julián Moreiro, and Fernando Rayo have added fields sometimes lacking in books of this nature. Historians, linguists and journalists often do not find place in histories of literature. Perhaps for a first time the famous bibliographer, José Toribio Medina, receives several pages. The presence of fields cognate to literature marks the interdisciplinary character of the volumes as in the colonial period.
Yet, as in the tome on the colonial period, contributions by certain American scholars in the 19th century go unnoted: Enrique Sosa's Recopilación de textos sobre la novela romántica latinoamericana (1978), Thomas R. Coates's La lengua literal y la lengua expresiva en Facundo (1982), Ángel Rama's La ciudad letrada (1984), and Doris Sommer's article, �Not Just Any Novel� (1986). The fortunate discovery of Antonio López Matoso's Viaje de Perico Ligero al país de los moros (1972) might also have been included.
The two volumes, Epoca virreinal and Siglo XIX must be placed in the context of the total endeavor: fifteen tomes with four left to be published for Spanish America. The result is the overwhelming task of a complete history making accessible 850 years of Hispanic literature. A spot check on the colonial period and the 19th century suggests that the massive undertaking lacked American contacts, or at least this was not noted in identifying the editors. In spite of Manual's problems, it is to date the best integrative  history of the literature of the Hispanic World.
Richard D. Woods
|Prieto, René. Miguel Ángel Asturias's Archeology of Return. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993, 307 pp.|
Prieto aborda, relacionándolos de manera histórica, problemas claves de la obra neo-indigenista de Asturias: en Leyendas de Guatemala la teoría del extrañamiento surrealista, en Hombres de maíz el paralelismo con la mitología maya y en Mulata de tal la psicología del desencanto. Los tres estudios están bien relacionados entre sí, pues muestran el progresivo desarrollo ideológico y político del plan de Asturias. Van de la valorización de la cultura maya en Leyendas de Guatemala, a la propuesta de un plan político que respete la ideología maya campesina en Hombres de maíz y acaban con el desencanto ante la imposibilidad de tal cambio en Mulata de tal.
Es de especial interés el brillante y detallado estudio de las zonas de coincidencia entre Hombres de maíz y el Popol Vuh. Aunque éste es un tema ampliamente tratado por otros criticos, Prieto lo aborda con convincente perspicacia: opone grupos de estructuras -�structural building units� (92)- en lugar de basarse en coincidencias de pequeños detalles o citas eruditas. Su estudio ahonda en el paralelismo con claridad, buena organización y seria investigación.
Además, Prieto elabora y justifica una nueva teoría que cambia el centro de atención de Hombres de maíz. Según Prieto, el retorno arqueológico (el uso del Popol Vuh) no está destinado a crear una obra erudita en sí, sino a demostrar una continuidad entre el pasado y el presente de Guatemala. Esta continuidad, a su vez, se emplea para defender, por ejemplo, técnicas agrarias del pasado, la explotación comunal de la tierra, en la Guatemala contemporánea. El original estudio de Prieto, al cambiar el centro de atención del pasado al presente, abre las puertas a nuevos trabajos que se centren en el mundo contemporáneo guatemalteco de Hombres de maíz.
Miguel Ángel Asturias's Archeology of Return aborda con franqueza en los tres capítulos el tema de desarrollo ideológico de Asturias. Prieto defiende que a lo largo de la obra de Asturias hay un gran cambio ideológico: Asturias empieza siendo un defensor de las ideas de la burguesía guatemalteca pero acaba siendo su gran crítico y escribe, precisamente, para cambiarla. El problema social del indio, por ejemplo, tiene un tono racista, sin embargo, Hombres de maíz y Mulata de tal están intrínsecamente comprometidos con la mejora de la situación del campesino maya guatemalteco.
Se destacan también las esclarecedoras semejanzas señaladas por Prieto entre la obra literaria de Asturias y la política guatemalteca. Prieto demuestra que las ideas políticas expresadas en Hombres de maíz coinciden con la política democrática del presidente Arévalo. Hombres de maíz defiende la propiedad comunal, el abandono del trabajo en la costa y la vuelta a las aldeas, ideas éstas que coinciden con la proyectada reforma agraria de Arévalo. Por su parte, Mulata de tal refleja el desencanto ante la subida al poder de Castillo Armas que acabó con el gobierno democrático y resultó en la pérdida de los derechos indígenas. El paralelismo trazado por Prieto es de crucial importancia porque presente la política de Asturias desde otro ángulo. En lugar de ser el primitivista que sólo usa Guatemala como un tema exótico aparece la figura de un hombre comprometido con el cambio político en su país. Miguel Ángel Asturias's Archeology of Return saca del olvido la obra de Asturias al ahondar con claridad en la relación entre literatura neo-indigenista y maya. Además, abre nuevos campos al estudio de la Guatemala contemporánea en Hombre de maíz y también presente desde un nuevo ángulo el compromiso político de Asturias. Por todo esto, es un libro imprescindible tanto para especialistas en la obra neoindigenista de Asturias como para interesados en la literatura y política centroamericana.
University of Michigan-Dearborn
|Roberto Schwarz. Misplaced Ideas. Essays on Brazilian Culture. John Gledson, Editor. London and New York: Verso. 1992, 204 pp.|
Most of these essays by the well-known Brazilian critic and social commentator were translated by the editor, who selected and collated them from the author's books, interviews, and articles. A respected critic of Machado de Assis, the editor has also provided many footnotes and an informative introduction to the principal theme; i. e., the genesis and current state of Brazilian culture as a reflection of imported ideologies and institutions that rarely suit local circumstances. For Schwarz, �We are always interpreting  our reality with conceptual systems created somewhere else, whose basis lies in other social processes� (39).
The book's sixteen chapters consider the misalliance of cultural forms and national reality in a variety of contexts including literature, politics, and film. In every instance the author's insights are remarkable and often quite provocative. For example, he explains the curious disfunction in José de Alencar's more realistic novels, where a sophisticated plot à la Balzac is grafted to the shabby provincialism of nineteenth-century Brazil, by pointing to the larger disfunction of a liberal constitutional monarchy presiding over a society dependent upon slavery and patronage. To be sure, the disfunction escaped Alencar himself, who remained unaware of such incongruities. Transforming Brazilian disparity into the stuff of great literature would require the genius of Machado de Assis in a novel like Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas where forced labor and favor render working freemen redundant and account for �the contemptible class humor� of the protagonist (96). Later, similar attempts to reconcile disparate dualities led to the modernism of Oswald de Andrade where the admixture results in a sense of �unreality and childishness� (123).
An extensive chapter considers the social and ideological turmoil of the sixties when urban intellectuals protested against imperialism and capitalism while remaining distant from �the problems of the masses [contrary to what] one might have expected� (132).They were opposed by self-styled traditionalists who railed against an alien ideology as though their own �antiquated obscurantism and fascism were not ideas equally misplaced and out of touch with what is going on in the world� (137). For its part, the military government, �pro-American and anti-popular, but modern� (138) showed its own penchant for misplaced ideas by touting �the ideology of consumerism [which is] a mocking insult� given the reality of widespread poverty (155). Not surprisingly, the period's cultural legacy, largely the province of the left, is a repertory devoted to �the inevitable banality of the commonplace [such as] the rights of the oppressed, the cruelty of the oppressor� (149).
Clearly Schwarz views Brazil's dependency on derivative cultural forms with some pessimism, which explains his admiration for Machado de Assis and his novels grounded in irony and disenchantment. For similar reasons he admires the late Anatol Rosenfeld, who avoided the aprioristic idealism of the right no less than the reductionism of the dogmatic left, a stance that, as he points out in a chapter on the late philosopher, resulted in being pilloried by both sides of the national spectrum. Wary of grand statements and the hubris of provincialism, Schwarz is less impressed by a sacred cow like Augusto de Campos, whose concretist poem, �Post everything� he takes to task (187-96).
Gledson brings closure to this collection of probing essays with a review of Chico Buarque de Holanda's novel Estorvo, which seems to predict a �classless society, under the sign of delinquency� (199). Schwarz considers the novel a metaphor for contemporary Brazil, where �after the times in which the ignorant poor were to be educated by the elite, and... the inequities of the rich were to be removed by the virtues of the poor, we have now reached a mire which nobody wants to get out of and where nobody is happy� (200).
There seems to be but a single typographical error (viii) and, for the most part, the translations range from adequate to quite good. The American reader may wonder about �one-off eccentricity� (87), �a provincial knee-up� (43), a �bedsitter� (197 and 198), several �toing and froing� and other Britishisms, though the occasional sentence fragment and neuter pronoun of ambiguous parentage stem from a too faithful rendering of the original. Even in the shadow of translation, however, the breadth and depth of analysis are well worth the reader's effort.
Richard A. Preto-Rodas
University of South Florida
|Urbina, Nicasio. La significación del género: Estudio semiótico de las novelas y ensayos de Ernesto Sábato [sic]. Miami: Ediciones Universal, 1992, 202 pp.|
Although it is very challenging to embark upon writing a new study about a writer who has provoked such an immense critical response as Ernesto Sábato (consistently with Urbina's book, I will be using Italian orthography of the writer's name), Nicasio Urbina has produced a fine and valuable reading of his work. This study discusses three novels (El túnel, Sobre héroes y tumbas, Abaddón el exterminador) and five collections of essays (Uno y el Universo, Heterodoxia, Hombres y engranajes, El escritor y sus fantasmas, and Apologías y rechazos) through the prism of semiotic analysis. The author argues that Sábato's literary production, regardless of its genre, is based on the narrative code of the  detective story. Urbina goes on to propose that although this particular sign system is traditionally associated with the journalistic reporting and the rhetoric of the essay, it also represents the underlaying structure of Sábato's novels. In making this point Urbina does a very good job of �reading� the novels, but dedicates considerably less time to the analysis of the essays.
The book is divided into eight sections that follow a brief introduction. While the first and the second chapter expose the theoretical apparatus that is to be used -semiotics- the third segment provides us with a perceptive review of criticism generated by Sábato's writing. In discussing sixteen different critical tendencies, archetypal criticism, feminism, psychoanalysis, and linguistics, among others, Urbina uses invariably the same pattern: 1) respectful commentary of about five or six specific studies that use the particular point of view, 2) summary and evaluation of their good points, 3) a challenge from the point of view of the theory of signs. The fourth chapter presents a discussion of the concept of �writing� in the light of Roland Barthes' and Jacques Derrida's theories. The process of writing is seen as a translation of one system of signs into another, bearing in mind that an absolute equivalence is impossible. Urbina applies this idea to Sábato's three novels, and especially to El túnel. Although the title of the fifth chapter, �El texto como hipersigno�, promises the most thorough discussion of the main idea of the study -the rhetorical formula of the �crónica periodística y policial� (115)- Urbina regrettably dedicates only eighteen pages to this issue. He does, however, proceed to discuss this point in the following section, where the main focus is on the function of the process of reading as it appears in the novels. Unfortunately, Sábato's essays are mentioned only very briefly (a total of two pages!). An extremely brief conclusion constitutes the seventh chapter and this part of the study could have definitely been extended with a more detailed discussion. The last chapter is a bibliography of Sábato's work (books, articles, reviews, and interviews) and the criticism it has generated since the forties. It claims to be �la bibliografía de Sábato más completa y documentada que puede consultarse� (152), and it indeed seems to be devotedly researched. Furthermore, the presence of so many diverse critical opinions (mostly quoted in their original tongues) often buries Urbina's voice and one could wish that more provocative and daring questions had been raised by the author of the study. In addition, one of the noticeable shortcomings of the book is the lack of attention it pays to the woman as a sign and the paradigmatic patterns she creates.
There is an index of names, but a subject index would have been useful for those who are interested in a specific aspect of Sábato's opus.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
|Weldt-Basson, Helene Carol. Augusto Roa Bastos's �I the Supreme�. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993, 247 pp.|
Weldt-Basson explores the rich narrative of Roa Bastos's second novel in this perceptive study of the use of narrative dialogues. The critic identifies six types of narration found in the text: transcribed dialogues, private notebook entries, installments of a �perpetual circular�, a logbook, the �tutorial voice� of El Supremo's father, and two documents. Undoubtedly I the Supreme is the novelist's most complicated work to date. It offers a wealth of examples of intertextuality and dialogic perspectives including an implied dialogue between the reader and the text.
Based on the twenty-six year reign of the Paraguayan dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia (1814-40), the novel carries on dialogues heretofore unexplored in Spanish-American fiction. Weldt-Basson establishes the connection between this novel and the novelist's previous work, the seminal Hijo de hombre (1960, as well as Son of Man, 1965), and early collections of short fiction. She reviews the novel's fragmented structure by focusing on its complex use of narrative voice and symbolism. Extensive reference to Mikhail Bakhtin's use of the term �voice� in Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics and The Dialogic Imagination occur throughout the study. In her comprehensive analysis of Roa Bastos's novel she stresses the fact that a specific type of discourse at the same time that it is individualized is also social in nature. She discusses the dialogic relationship between the novel and history and examines how the novel both answers-questions and parodies historical texts at the same time that it amplifies and exaggerates historical events. While the critic investigates Roa's use of historical documents, she studies the incorporation of nonhistorical intertexts into the corpus of the novel. She concludes that these dialogic interpretations reveal two fundamental types under which all other dialogic variants may be subsumed: (1) a dialogue among the voices of the characters and narrators within the novel, and  (2) a dialogue between I the Supreme and other texts outside the novel -texts that have been incorporated into its pages through allusion, citation, and parody. On a broader scale, these two types of dialogism imply a dialogue between the reader and the text.
The volume contains an introduction, four chapters, and a conclusion. Chapter 1 studies voice and dialogism in the novel. In Chapter 2 Weldt-Basson explores the dialogue between reader and text. The third chapter is an analysis of the dialogue between the novel and historical intertexts, while the last chapter analyzes the relationship between the novel and nonhistorical texts. The volume contains a biblography and an index. The bibliography totals seventeen pages and is an excellent overview, not only of the works of Roa Bastos but of contemporary literary theory in general and of discourse in particular.
At the end of the volume one comes face to face with the possibility of three authors: Roa Bastos, the author-compiler, and the implied author (as constructed by the reader). Likewise, the text is directed toward an implied reader, defined as the �behavior, attitudes, and backgrounds -presupposed or defined usually indirectly, in the text itself- necessary for a proper understanding of the text� (219). This novel implies a reader with a high degree of knowledge of historical texts dealing with the Francia years, thus making the novel's dethroning of the authority of cited sources accessible to its reader. Similarly, the implied reader must have a high degree of literary culture in order to perceive the novel's relationship to other authors and their writings, necessary components for the comprehension of I the Supreme. This well-conceived theoretical study offers the reader new insights with which to judge one of the most important novelists Paraguay has produced.
Harley D. Oberhelman
Texas Tech University
PEDAGOGY AND LINGUISTICS
|Batchelor, R. E., and C. J. Pountain. Using Spanish: A Guide to Contemporary Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992, xvi + 318 pp.|
|Pérez, Ángeles, Rafael Sala, and Manuel Santamarina. Cassell's Contemporary Spanish: A Handbook of Grammar, Current Usage and Word Power. New York: Macmillan, 1993, xiii + 367 pp.|
These handbooks, each designed to furnish an overview of current Spanish usage, appear to have much in common. Both devote a good deal of attention to the intricacies of vocabulary and provide ample data regarding the grammatical structure of the language. Using Spanish and Contemporary Spanish also supply translations of all examples, and differentiate between studied linguistic practice and those uses appropriate to less formal contexts. Beyond superficial similarities, however, the works differ significantly regarding both what is offered and what is expected of the reader.
Batchelor and Pountain describe their study as �a book with a primarily pedagogical purpose, to be used by learners who will take examinations� (4). Nevertheless, the striking richness offered here suggests that its chief role may come to be that of reference manual. An Introduction (1-15) defines three levels of discourse to which reference will be made throughout the text: R1 (colloquial usage, marked by a restricted lexicon and loose syntax; a subset, Rl*, contains taboo expressions); R2 (educated speech, found, for example, in the classroom); and R3 (the formal medium of writing, of which there exist various subsets utilized in specific contexts). Examples of each register are provided, along with abundant commentary on the features presented.
The text's first major division, although titled simply �Vocabulary�, contains a wealth of material relating to areas as diverse as adjectives derived from place-names, Latin expressions commonly employed in cultivated Spanish, fillers, and units of measurement. Perhaps most impressive in this section is that subdivision devoted to �Fields of meaning -vocabulary extension� (53-104), an exposition geared toward enhancing the Spanish vocabulary of those studying this language (53). Ordered alphabetically by the English equivalent, the entries present in diagrammatic form the most general Spanish term(s), under which is offered a gamut of related words. The latter items are usually arrayed in accordance with a scale particular to the semantic field at hand, and all equivalents are marked, when appropriate, as to level, geographical extension, and peculiar grammatical features. �TO ANNOY�, for example, is followed by a schematic presentation containing fastidiar at the top left and molestar at the top right, below which -arranged in the order of �strong/lower register� at the left, to �weak/higher register� at the right- are found first joder, then causar/dar asco a, crispar, and fregar, next dar  la lata a, jorobar, and incordiar, and finally estorbar and incomodar (55). Terms translatable as intransitive �TO GROW� are classified as �general�, �more abstract�, �more specific�, or �figurative� (76), and the representation of �NOISES OF ANIMALS� gives both the verb and noun for each action mentioned (84).
The second part of Using Spanish, �Grammar�, furnishes detailed notes on a great number of topics. Here, too, good use is made of diagrams, each of which has been formulated to convey the relevant information in as clear a fashion as possible. It is impossible in a brief review to do justice to the completeness of Batchelor and Pountain's grammatical commentaries. Their discussion of �Prepositional constructions with verbs, nouns, and adjectives� (202-28), however, may serve as a demonstration. Improving markedly on the usual lists of verbs accompanied by a preposition which appears before subsequent infinitives (e. g., comenzar a estudiar), the authors divide the uses of a given preposition into logical subcategories. The description of �de before an infinitive or noun�, for example, entails establishment of the following classifications: �Cessation�, �'Negative' idea�, �Causation�, �Advantage�, �'Instrument' (de is often the equivalent of English with)�, �With verbs of change�, and �Other uses of de� (210-13). Shortly thereafter in this subdivision we find an enumeration of infinitives, nouns, and adjectives, each of which may be followed by one of various prepositions (together with specifications of the exact meaning of the items given; 217-25), as well as a treatment of those cases in which Spanish and English differ with regard to prepositional use (225-28). Equally replete with clear observations and exemplification are, for example, this handbook's sections on �The Subjunctive� (248-70) and �ser and estar� (271-79); each discussion is prefaced by a warning against explanatory oversimplification (248, 271). A helpful index of Spanish vocabulary items rounds out the volume (299-318).
The writers of Contemporary Spanish state that this text is intended to satisfy the needs of several groups of language learners, including students, professionals, and tourists (ix). While Using Spanish takes into consideration both Peninsular and American practice (xiii, 1-3), the Cassell guide affirms that its examples reflect �the 'real' Spanish that is spoken and written in Spain� (x). The first part of the study, �A concise reference grammar� (1146), deals with the standard topics included in most grammatical surveys. It is clear that the author of this section presumes less expertise on the part of readers than do Batchelor and Pountain. Consequently, Cassell's presentation is somewhat less complex than that of Batchelor and Pountain but nonetheless furnishes a solid overview of the areas investigated. Noteworthy here is the use of the star symbol to point out particular important observations (e. g., remarks detailing the differences between �Qué? and �Cuál?, 80-81), as well as the inclusion of lined-out, incorrect examples in order to highlight proper usage (e. g., the correctness of �Escucho la radio� is emphasized by comparison with �Escucho a la radio�; 140). A refreshing feature of this exposition is the presence of references to the inevitability of change both in language and in the criteria for acceptability (e. g., 26, 69-70, 113); such openness to the fact of linguistic evolution is particularly apparent in the treatment of gender-marked terms denoting professional occupations (e. g., el modista, la clienta, la guía [30-31]).
The middle and final divisions of Contemporary Spanish are dedicated respectively to �Contemporary functional language� (147-238) and �Word power� (239-329). Appearing with some frequency in both are indications of register (e. g., �<coll>�, �formal>�), as well as exclamation points in bold print: one to mark slang expressions, and two to point out items considered vulgar. Part 2 offers sixty-eight sets of templates for oral and written expression, organized by theme and encompassing a wide range of situations. Under each rubric we find lists of sentences which the novice may imitate, phrases often arranged by degree of formality, emphasis, or brevity. Among the conversational scenarios dealt with are �Asking for advice� (153-54), �Hedging your bets� (173-74), �Making complaints� (183-84), and �Answering the phone� (192). Sections concerned with written expression provide the reader samples of informal and formal letters on a variety of topics (included here are a curriculum vitae and newspaper announcements of several types; 212, 219-20), and are followed by suggestions and models for essay writing and for the preparation of formal reports (223-38). The book's pages on �Word power� begin with a series of inventories of expressions grouped according to the key term utilized in each (under diente, for example, we find such items as dar diente con diente and ir armado hasta los dientes ), include enumerations such as those of �False friends� (both �True� and �Partial� [280-86]), and (as we are told) close with �selective vocabulary lists for  ten important thematic areas� (293): these cover, for example, �The weather� (301-02), �Commerce and finance� (310-15), and �Literature� (325-29). Perhaps most interesting in this last part of the handbook are a brief compilation of English borrowings (287-89) and one of proverbs subdivided thematically (290-92). At the end of the study are appendices showing conjugations (331-61) and a short index of topics (365-67).
This third major section is perhaps the most problematic component of Contemporary Spanish. Although the work's Introduction maintains that �Word power� may be used for reference or vocabulary improvement (x), its diffuse composition and the absence of a Spanish word index might make either endeavor difficult. Nevertheless, Part 1 and, more especially, Part 2 of this manual should prove helpful to an audience which has acquired an elementary knowledge of the tongue. Batchelor and Pountain's overview, on the other hand, requires of the reader both a more extensive prior exposure to Spanish and a greater appetite for mastering the complexities of this language. Those possessed of the necessary sophistication and dedication undoubtedly will find in Using Spanish an invaluable instrument for further development of their linguistic skills.
Michael T. Ward
|Hurtgen, André. Longman Dictionary of Spanish Grammar and Idioms. White Plains, NY: Longman. 1991, 232 pp.|
This book, as the title suggests, is a dictionary in which a large number of Spanish grammatical rules, structures and idioms have been organized in alphabetical order for easy reference. The individual entries, some in Spanish and others in English, are not limited to those items mentioned above, but also cover such items as definitions of grammatical terms, conjugation paradigms for regular and irregular verbs, and information regarding accentuation and punctuation. Each entry lists the part of speech or grammatical function of the item, its Spanish or English equivalent, and examples of how it is used in Spanish sentences with their English translations. In the case of grammatical structures, the entries include brief explanations in English of when and how they are used. Any exceptions to the rules are duly noted. The dictionary also incorporates explanations, in outline form, of the some of the thorniest issues for English-speaking students of Spanish such as preterite/imperfect, por/para, gustar-like constructions, and subjunctive/indicative. Another interesting feature of this dictionary are the tables listing common English and Spanish abbreviations, metric measurements and their U. S. equivalents, Spanish clothing sizes with their U. S. and British equivalents, Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature conversions, and function-related expressions and structures such as those used in the classroom. Two other features of the dictionary are worth noting. First, many lexical and idiomatic items are listed in both Spanish and English. For example, there is an entry for a causa de vs. porque and a parallel entry for �because vs. because of�. Second, there is also extensive cross-referencing to direct users to related entries with further explanations and examples. One example of this is found with the entry for menos which directs users to look up additional entries under �adjectives, comparison of�, and �adverbs, comparative and superlative of�.
Explanations are concise and clear. Likewise, the examples which accompany each entry are generally sufficient and appropriate for clarifying the point under consideration. However, it should be noted that the dictionary is not, nor does it purport to be, complete. There are a few cases where further explanation or additional examples would be helpful. One case of this is found in the entry for que vs. qué. This entry describes the functions of que as a relative pronoun and the functions of qué an interrogative and in exclamations. There is no mention of the use of que in indirect imperative constructions such as �Que le vaya bien! In a similar vein, the discussion of definite articles does not mention the omission of the definite article with the names of languages after the preposition de. The entry for definite articles also states that the definite article is sometimes used before infinitives which function as nouns, but does not indicate what determines the use or omission of the definite article in this context. A fourth example occurs in the entry for the days of the week. The entry notes that the plural form for the days of the week is the same as the singular form without mentioning that sábado and domingo have separate plural forms. Despite these and other occasional gaps, this dictionary could be a useful reference tool and resource for teachers, advanced learners, and scholars of Spanish, taking its place on the shelf along with a Spanish/English dictionary and a reference grammar. It is not intended for use as a textbook  or for beginning level learners: there are no exercises, the explanations are generally brief, and the grammatical terminology (e. g., conjunctional construction, indefinite adverb) might overwhelm learners who are unfamiliar with it. The stated purpose of this dictionary is �to provide clear and convenient assistance to students and other users or lovers of the Spanish language who are unsure of, or have completely forgotten a rule of grammar, an irregular verb, an idiomatic expression, etc�. (iii), a purpose which, from all indications, it fulfills quite admirably.
Jane E. Berne
University of North Dakota
|Jarvis, Ana C., Raquel Lebredo, and Francisco Mena-Ayllón. Basic Spanish Grammar. 4th edition, Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath, 1992, 342 pp.|
|Jarvis, Ana C. and Raquel Lebredo. Spanish for Communication. 4th edition, Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath, 1992, 346 pp.|
|Jarvis, Ana C. and Raquel Lebredo. Getting Along in Spanish. 3rd edition, Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath, 1992, 341 pp.|
The fourth edition of Basic Spanish Grammar continues to be the nucleus of a complete Spanish program consisting of the three books cited above and five manuals, each covering the specific professions of teaching, law enforcement, medicine, social services and business. It is designed for use in intensive, regular two-semester or three-quarter courses.
A restful shade of blue suffuses the entire grammar text. The covers are blue, and the vocabulary lists, grammatical charts and many of the headings are blue as well. The only photography in the text (black and white) is pretty much limited to the pages introducing new chapters. Four black-and-white maps labeled in blue precede the table of contents. Basically this is a no-frills text emphasizing content and variety over packaging.
The authors suggest that for classes stressing oral communication, the nuclear text be combined with Spanish for Communication (SFC), while for classes needing a more elementary approach, the main text be combined with Getting Along in Spanish (GAS). For classes composed of aspiring professionals, the main text is suitable for use during part of the class period, and then students can divide up into groups and choose for each group whichever of the five manuals corresponds closest to their professional interest.
The authors affirm their creative response to suggestions made by the reviewers of their previous editions and present their program as career specific. The nuclear text now introduces the familiar (tú) command earlier than past editions and they claim that the Spanish-English/English-Spanish end vocabulary has been revised to reflect changes made to the individual lesson vocabularies.
The two communication manuals have also been overhauled. For example, Getting Along in Spanish has new lessons on outdoor activities, personal care, and academic affairs, and Spanish for Communication now introduces the theme of food earlier and has additional lessons on academics and fitness.
The main text teaches ser and estar in chapter three, formal commands in lesson nine, and the preterit and imperfect in ten and twelve respectively. Wisely, the final five chapters (16, 17, 18, 19 and 20) are devoted in their entirety to the use of the present and imperfect subjunctive.
Vocabulary lists in all three texts are divided first into cognates and non-cognates, and then the latter is further divided according to syntactic function. Cognates are aptly defined as �words that resemble one another and have similar meanings in Spanish and English� but which �often have different spellings and always have different pronunciations� (6, BSG).
In addition, the two manuals present a section called Aprenda estas palabras even before each section's vocabulary list that features cartoon drawings to exemplify the lexical concepts tinder study. Dialectal variants and synonyms are well covered in the lists of all three books so that frazada, cobija and manta (GAS 49) and many other lexical pairs and triads appear as single entries. Vowel shifts in stem-changing verbs are indicated by means of a colon, e. g., servir (e:i).
The Spanish dialogues at the beginning of each chapter of the manuals (the nuclear text introduces only vocabulary and grammar and contains no dialogues) are divided into two or three manageable segments accompanied by pencil drawings to encourage students to visualize concepts and not to think in English. A series of appendices in the basic text includes a pronunciation key (also covering rhythm, intonation, linking, syllabification, and accentuation) and a verb guide. The manuals have pronunciation keys but no verb guide.
The notas culturales that occur in the two  manuals contain useful and timely facts that cannot fail to heighten student interest in the Spanish-speaking countries: that, for instance, the grading system at Hispanic universities uses numbers instead of letters (and that the numbers vary from country to country), that many of the countries have nationalized health care with government-subsidized facilities, and that many doctors make house calls.
Some of the activities featured in the manual Getting Along in Spanish are skits such as transforming the classroom into a restaurant, food market, or airport in order to expand situations introduced in the dialogues; show-and-tell exercises, and singing Spanish lyrics to simple tunes such as �Row, row, row your boat�. Most lessons conclude with a thematically appropriate cartoon, proverb, or riddle. The more advanced alternative manual, Spanish for Communication, follows a similar format substituting some of the features (more crucigramas and fewer cartoons, for example) and offering a supplementary reading exercise after every three lessons that typically deals with news items (astrology, international relations, sports).
Some of the announcements used as realia in the manuals are from the United States and therefore refer to �street� instead of calle and �miles� instead of kilómetros, distracting somewhat from the authenticity of a truly Spanish-speaking experience. One coupon from the Miami Herald expired on 30 octubre 1990; this as well as a current events reference to the Unión soviética (SFC 260) should be excised in future editions.
A more serious problem is that many of the most difficult words from these ads are not listed in the dictionary -the newly revised dictionary, which the authors point out with pride- so how are students going to be able to order churrasco (GAS 282) at Juanito's in Miami if they can't identify what it is? What is a limón encerado under the heading banderazos (SFC 135)? What is the difference between piso/ losas (SFC 230) in one ad and la loza (SFC 259) being washed in another? It's no help to look these words up in the Spanish-English vocabulary at the back of the manuals, because they are not to be found. This is especially irritating in the case of the idiom hacer la sobremesa, the pleasant Hispanic custom of lingering at the table after a meal. Despite the fact that the idiom is the subject of a nota cultural on page 277 of Getting Along in Spanish, the idiom fails to appear in the Spanish English dictionary under either hacer or sobremesa.
Versatility is Jarvis and Lebredo's watchword, and they have gone to tremendous lengths to attain it in this impressive assemblage of materials. Thanks to their efforts, Spanish classes that combine students from various professional programs will be able to address the needs of these diverse subgroups of students by �tailor making� a course of study suitable to each student's individual needs.
Allegany Community College
|Sánchez Reyes, Carmen. Redacción comercial. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1992, 381 pp.|
This book was developed for speakers of Spanish in response to a need for materials devoted to the writing of business communications. The text is divided into three parts, each with various units. Part One (grammar) includes accentuation, syllabification, punctuation, vocabulary, morphology, and syntax. There are plenty of examples of correct and incorrect usages and vocabulary lists of synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, anglicisms, latinisms, etc. In some cases, especially for the lexical units, there are dialectal comments specifically for Puerto Rico.
While the information in Part One is relevant and will help students improve their linguistic understanding of Spanish, there are some problematic areas. For example, the explanation and corresponding exercise on the accentuation of verb-clitic constructions (i. e. escribióme and estése p. 12) is superfluous as these forms are mainly used in literary styles. The unit on morphology covers the principal parts of speech; however, the descriptions are uneven in that some categories are simply defined (i. e., mood and voice) and others are discussed in great detail (i. e., prepositions and conjunctions). For verb paradigms, the vosotros form is not presented, although the future subjunctive is, and the verb charts are delineated semantically instead of structurally (i. e., for ser -Yo soy, Tú-Usted, eres-es, Él-Ella es, etc.). Missing in the �general uses� of the gerund are its use in progressive tenses and its non-use as a noun. Possessive adjectives are described as �Los posesivos mío, tuyo y suyo se apocopan -pierden su última sílaba y el acento ortográfico si lo llevan- cuando anteceden al sustantivo: mi padre...� (74). The discussion of object pronouns (79) is confusing and erroneous. In the examples �...lo quiero para mí� and �Ya te dije que no volvieras� mí and te are identified as direct objects. In the  sentence �Se fue� se is referred to as a direct object, but in �Nos vamos de viaje pronto� nos is called the subject of the sentence. The indirect object is identified correctly in the example �No le he enviado la invitación de bodas a mis tías� (even though there is a typographical error), but le also identified as a direct object in �Le derrotaron� without discussion of leísmo. Lastly, there is no mention of reflexive pronouns.
The unit on syntax is quite thorough, including noun phrases, verb phrases, and direct, indirect, and circumstantial complements. There are descriptions of simple and compound sentences, the latter being fully exemplified. The analysis of the passive and active voices with impersonal verbs (i. e. haber, nevar, llover), makes no reference to the pseudo-passive constructions with se.
Part Two presents extended definitions of the terms communication and writing and covers types of communication, inherent factors in communication, barriers to communication and general characteristics of good writing. There is also a detailed unit on the Logic of Communication, with good examples of errors in logic. Other units include the characteristics of commercial style, the stages of business writing and a detailed description of paragraph development (characteristics, types, and methods of exposition).
Part Three offers the most noteworthy contributions to the teaching of business writing in Spanish. In addition to the stylistics of business letter writing this text introduces a wide spectrum of business communications. A good sampling of the documents offered includes: job search documents (resumés, cover letters, acceptance letters and letters of resignation), letters of recommendation and introduction, publicity and sales letters, letters granting and denying credit, collection letters, letters of complaint, and courtesy letters. The text provides two or three examples for each of these documents and explains their design, purpose and psychology.
In conclusion, except for the aforementioned problems in Part One and a few typographical errors (sky/ski 37, ue/que 109), the text is well researched. The explanations are clear, concise and fully exemplified. In the appendix there are exercises (without answers) that correspond to each unit within each chapter. Some of the exercises are grammatical, while others are content questions and others offer writing practice. Overall, this book presents a wealth of information on business writing. Both professionals and advanced university-level students will benefit from its contributions to the field of commercial Spanish.
Courtney E. Harrison
University of North Dakota
|Serrano, Juan and Susan Serrano. Spanish Verbs: Ser and Estar. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1992, 217 pp.|
Few languages so early in the learning sequence present the American learner with such a puzzle as does Spanish with ser and estar. Just at the time that teachers wish to gently induct students into the language, the problem of ser and estar looms, and must be dealt with in however simplified a way. Later in the learning sequence ser and estar again and again return problematically. Many non-native teachers of Spanish are a little vague on the topic of ser and estar and have never mastered the most subtle and idiomatic uses of the two verbs. Native-speaking teachers may be no better off; while they possess a large store of expressions and uses of ser and estar, they may suffer from an inability to reduce these to generalizations that can be captured by the American students.
The authors of Ser and Estar subtitle their book Key to Mastering the Language. It is composed of eight chapters, the first four of which are grouped around the goal of understanding ser and estar, while the remaining four help students to master the two verbs. The Serranos view the two verbs as �the most fundamental building blocks of the Spanish language� and �revelatory of how the Spanish mind works�. The authors correctly allude to the fact that often grammatical explanations of ser and estar are simply wrong as offered by teachers and textbooks, such as the common error of positing a distinction of permanence versus transitoriness between the two verbs. Incorrect invocation of the notion of permanence produces errors such as Juan es siempre ocupado where the siempre leads a student to opt for the supposedly permanent ser. In contrast the Serranos offer a dichotomy of state versus nature, where even a permanent condition such as death remains a state. Thus el café está caliente tells nothing about coffee's inherent characteristic or nature -it refers to the state the coffee is in. Put another way, the Serranos offer a dichotomy that they term whatness versus howness. Hence aunque Pedro es viejo, está joven, in the sense that he is or acts young for what he is -an old  man. Similarly es soltero tells us that the man is a bachelor, while está soltero indicates that his situation or state is that of unmarried. This formulation is not really that new; thirty years ago George De Mello's Español Contemporáneo split the categories in terms of characteristic (ser) versus condition (estar), essentially the same division as now suggested by the Serranos.
The Spanish speaker often finds the English lack of a distinction in the copula to be ambiguous, e. g., he is cold could be translated into Spanish by es frío, está frío, tiene frío. Teachers might do well to point this out to students. In parallel, it might be advisable to expose students to exercises which show that especially estar can be rendered in English by many more forms than just that copula -translations such as to look, to feel, to seem, become, etc., while in the other direction to be can often be best rendered by verbs such as encontrarse, quedar(se), verse, andar.
The likely market for this book will be that of teachers and perhaps some graduate students and trainee teachers. If this is so, the book might have benefitted from a little pruning. For example, page 79 offers a description of the passive voice which merely states what would be known to most readers. An interesting recommendation is to imagine a suppressed �celebrada� in sentences with ser + location of event. La clase es (celebrada), en el quinto piso. This is very useful for instructors, but of limited value in explaining to students, since quite often students come across such uses long before they have studied the passive voice in Spanish. In general this book would be a useful purchase for teachers and student teachers, since it offers a truly large store of examples and uses of the two verbs. The text is very inexpensively priced and is of acceptable production quality, with only a very rare typo.
Coastal Carolina University
|Goytisolo, Luis. Estatua con palomas. Barcelona: Destino, 1992, 347 pp.|
La alargada sombra de Antagonía, monumento funerario al género novelístico convencional, cubrió a la novela siguiente del autor, Estela del fuego que se aleja; (1984), reduciéndola, a mi juicio, a ser una suerte de reelaboración de algunos de los motivos de la tetralogía y a demostrar en la práctica el poder de ese golpe asestado a la novela, del que no se libraba la del propio autor. En La paradoja del ave migratoria (1985) el objetivo renovador -la novela policiaca- era menos ambicioso que en Estela y el resultado más satisfactorio. Tras la recopilación de artículos Inventos y conjeturas de Claudio Mendoza (1985), en Estatua con palomas tanto la ambición renovadora como los resultados de la misma vuelven a elevarse a alturas próximas a las de Antagonía. Estamos ante una autobiografía, género que, al menos en España, va revelándose como más complejo de lo que la crítica admitía, más popular de lo que los editores sospechaban y -�por ello?- más atractivo para los escritores. El grueso de la obra son los recuerdos y reflexiones del autor sobre su familia, la historia de España, la sociedad catalana, la crisis ideológica de fin de siglo y, especialmente, sobre su escritura. Se compara ésta al deseo erótico, por lo que ambas tienen de compulsivo, y a la enfermedad, con la que escritura y sexualidad comparten lo oscuro de sus orígenes. La narración de los hitos en su aprendizaje de escritor (el hallazgo de la ironía, el �cómo� y el �qué�, la novela como forma de conocimiento, la importancia de la estructura narrativa) así como las relaciones del escritor con sus obras y narradores son especialmente reveladoras. Todos estos temas están dichos también �tácitamente� a través del propio texto de Estatua con palomas, que ofrece una versión personal y novedosa de las posibilidades y convenciones de la literatura autobiográfica. Junto a las memorias de Luis Goytisolo se presentan fragmentos de textos, cartas y reflexiones de varios personajes de la Roma Imperial en los que se habla también sobre la escritura, los géneros, la Historia y la ficción, la sociedad romana, etc. Estas secciones están centradas en la figura de Tácito, cuyas impresiones sobre lo literario se aproximan al género autobiográfico tal como aparece en Estatua con palomas. Los distintos planos de la obra están conectados de modo sutil e inteligente, en una suerte de juego de espejos que va revelando algunos de los secretos de la compleja estructura del texto. Epígrafes, números, alusiones y repeticiones incitan a perseguir las claves de esa estructura, claves a las que el lector añadirá las propias en una tarea interpretativa que puede ser inacabable. De especial riqueza en la obra es el juego entre los motivos de la predicción y el recuerdo, tareas sujetas muchas veces a los influjos de la superstición. Los paralelismos personales entre los personajes escritores de los distintos planos de Estatua con palomas se complican con un final �sorpresa� en el que se combina el guiño melodramático de la anagnórisis con la reflexión  sobre creadores, creados, el género autobiográfico, la entrevista, la ficción, etc.
Por supuesto, son interesantes los juicios sobre los otros Goytisolo y sus propios recuerdos autobiográficos. Luis Goytisolo se sitúa a sí mismo entre las hipérboles de José Agustín y el prurito destructor de Juan. Como este último, el autor recurre a la historia familiar como punto de partida para repasar el pasado infantil (insistiendo en la importancia de la madre ausente), corregir algunos de los juicios de sus hermanos y marcar las distancias y los puntos de contacto entre los distintos miembros de la familia.
Tanto en las observaciones sobre la historia y la sociedad españolas y sobre la peripecia literaria de su autor, como en las referidas al género autobiográfico, Estatua con palomas muestra el rigor y la inteligencia característicos de las mejores obras de Luis Goytisolo.
Southwest Texas State University
|Pombo, Álvaro. Aparición del eterno femenino. Barcelona: Anagrama, 1993, 191 pp.|
It is difficult to pin down the fiction of Álvaro Pombo. His is a varied world of irony, skepticism, and hypocrisy, overlaid with a diversity of children and adults who embody both innocence and human darkness. Above all, however, Pombo has been a creator of character at a time in novel writing when character has served a role secondary to technique or has been shattered into chaos by the postmodern exigencies of fragmentation and absence. Indeed, there is a repeated desire in Pombo's fiction to restore wholeness to characters -not the naive wholeness of realistic tradition, but rather a belief that fictional beings can be linked to human assertions (fear, love, doubt, desire) within a narrative scheme that is aware both of its own contingencies and those of its characters. This foregrounding of character is especially pertinent to his two best-known novels, El héroe de las mansardas de Mansard (1983, Premio Herralde) and El metro de platino iridiado (1991, Premio de la Crítica).
In Aparicióin del eterno femenino character is drawn through the perceptions of the first-person narrator, a twelve-year-old boy (el Ceporro) who recounts a year in his life in the early 1940's with his best friend and cousin (el Chino) and a German orphan (Elke) adopted by his aunt. Although the young girl assumes an important role in the daily life of the two boys, and el Chino returns to live with his parents at the end of the year (they are Spanish diplomats in Stockholm), the novel focuses on the common preoccupations and events of youthful transitions rather than on a single occurrence aimed at evoking dramatic poignancy.
Aparición is to a large degree about childhood friendship. The narrator and el Chino share the intimacies of adolescence that seem to create an unbreakable bond (from the playful violence of boxing to the confusing secrets of sexual awakening), only to have the comfort of this relationship interrupted by Elke, who stirs in el Chino the first feelings of love and who introduces the boys to what the narrator believes is the �eterno femenino�. Yet Pombo carefully constructs his narrative so that Elke is never placed between the two friends as a symbol of destruction. Rather, she gains the friendship of both and is portayed at once as different and similar to the two boys. She shares in their world of play and introduces them to new activities (e. g., the three spend long hours on el Ceporro's terrace trying to levitate like the Indians she had read about). What is most remarkable about the year in the life of the children, however, is that nothing at all remarkable happens, The point, of course, is not that the materiality of life itself has changed in dramatic fashion, but that in the normal scheme of growing older, perceptions about what life means are compellingly tenuous. As el Ceporro notes, �acabé dándome cuenta claramente que yo era el que más había cambiado aquel verano sin darme, mientras cambiaba, casi cuenta de cambiar� (187).
Aparición del eterno femenino is not Pombo's best or most complex novel. It clearly grows from his talent for creating characters drawn from life, but it is also firmly rooted in the awareness of its own literariness, El Ceporro is a master of language (�yo sé entrar y sé salir por las palabras como por los pasillos de esta casa� ), and his awareness of his narration and the power of words pre-empts the illusion that what stands before us is a natural world rather than a constructed one. This world is often humorous and ironic, at times ingenuously inquisitive. Always, however, it is shaped by the perceptions of children and their desire to comprehend life, even control it, as it spins loose from their grasp and forces upon them the inevitable concessions to growing older.
David K. Herzberger
University of Connecticut 
|Poniatowska, Elena. Tinísima. Mexico, D. F.: Ediciones Era, 1992, 663pp.|
Tina Modotti, for whom Tinísima is named, was an Italian photographer who as a young girl immigrated to San Francisco in 1913 with her family. Attracted to California's thriving art community, she briefly pursued an acting career in Hollywood and married a painter whose work took them to Mexico in the early 1920s (he died of smallpox soon after their arrival). Feeling more at home in Mexico than in the United States, Tina soon emerged as a popular figure among Mexican artists and intellectuals. However, her relations with Edward Weston, a successful American photographer, and her interests in left-wing politics would determine the course of her life.
Under the tutelage of Weston, Modotti gradually attained prominence as a professional photographer, preserving for posterity scenes of the Cristero Rebellion and images of Mexico's suffering poor, with whom she identified. At the same time she found herself under the influence of Communist Party organizers in the Mexican capital. These included Julio Antonio Mella, a young Cuban Marxist with whom Modotti fell in love. The book begins in 1929, when Mella, stalked by thugs working for the Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado, is assassinated on a thoroughfare while he and Modotti are returning to their apartment. The novel then flashes back to Modotti's earlier life in California, her marriage, and her move to Mexico City.
Poniatowska states in her Agradecimientos that she spent ten years of research on Modotti's life, including her interviews with Vittorio Vidali, an Italian communist who became Modotti's second husband. Vidali and Modotti met in Mexico and left for Europe in 1930 when Modotti was expelled from the country because of her communist activities. (She had joined the Communist Party in 1927, after which she had become increasingly militant). They spent most of the following six years in Russia working for the Socorro Rojo Internacional, an agency that sent them, together and separately, on political missions to Germany, France, Austria, and Spain. Modotti's ability as a polyglot enhanced her standing with the Soviet bureaucracy and in 1936 was a deciding factor in her participation in the Spanish Civil War. She first served as a nurse in Madrid and then, when the Republicans suffered defeat after defeat, in other parts of the country.
With General Franco's triumph, Modotti and her husband returned to Mexico, where her altered appearance, brought about by ailing health and years of hardship, enabled her to conceal her identity. She died early New Year's Day, 1942.
Tinísima is at times a riveting life story well worth telling; indeed, Modotti emerges as a fascinating personage, talented, idealistic, and engaging. In addition, Poniatowska has managed to capture the vibrant political and intellectual ambience of the 1920s and 1930s, both in Mexico and Europe. The text is replete with anecdotes about and cameo appearances by well-known painters, writers, and politicians. However, the reader of Tinísima has the impression that after investigating this period in such depth, the author was simply unable to prune enough of the vast volume of material she uncovered. Thus, her novel includes far too many digressions from the principal subject at hand. The details of Trotsky's assassination in 1940, for example, although scarcely related to Modotti's life at the time it occurred, are at least historically relevant and interesting, but other details are not. The elimination of many obscure characters and episodes would have enhanced the artistic merits and dramatic impact of the book. One of Mexico's finest writers, Poniatowska has demonstrated once again that the nonfiction novel can be a viable art form.
George R. McMurray
University of Montana
|Tomeo, Javier. La agonía de Proserpina. Barcelona: Planeta, 1993, 186 pp.|
The adjective singular is frequently applied to Javier Tomeo, and his highly original sense of humor sets him apart from most of his contemporaries. An extraordinarily prolific writer, Tomeo has developed a distinctive literary formula. His novels are customarily structured as a monologue or the narration of a dialogue between two individuals, one of whom attempts to dominate the other, as in El castillo de la carta cifrada (1979), Amado monstruo (1985), El cazador de leones (1987), and El mayordomo miope (1990). His repertoire of themes is limited -loneliness, lack of communication, the absurdity of the human condition- and he reworks material almost obsessively, repeating situations, motifs, images, even quips. Monstrosity fascinates him, and a number of his characters exhibit some type of deformity. There are relatively few women in Tomeo's fictive world. Those who do appear tend to be possessive  mothers, devouring wives, or sexually provocative creatures who, according to the male characters, give men good reason to distrust women. The latter are often the target of abuse and are deprived of direct access to language. Their speech is reported indirectly and their thoughts interpreted by men, so that male voices and visions predominate.
The two characters of La agonía de Proserpina are Juan and Anita. The former has supposedly written a novel whose protagonists are named Juan and Anita. The �fictional� figures are modeled on the �flesh-and-blood� ones, who find themselves repeating the actions and words of their paper counterparts. Literature imitates life which imitates literature. Tomeo's Juan is attracted to women but terrified of them and convinced he cannot trust them. �El mundo�, he observes, �está lleno de hombres traicionados y de mujeres infieles� (54). On the flimsiest of evidence he concludes that Anita, �la muy pilla� (25, 39, 149), has betrayed him, and he plots his revenge. The epigraph by Stefan de Oemot informs us that �En todo caso, la venganza debe servirse templada�.
Tomeo is adept at letting characters' words and deeds expose them for what they are. The image of Juan that gradually emerges is that of a man who is disturbed and disturbing, pitiable because of his fears and need to be understood, contemptible because of his attitudes and behavior. He is irrational, obsessive, sadistic, insecure, and condescending toward women in general and Anita in particular, whom he regards as stupid and coarse. He delights in bewildering her with non sequiturs and allusions that are beyond her grasp, such as a parody of François Villon's �Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?� Juan's desire to inflict suffering is evident in the relish with which he contemplates the prospect of pulling out Anita's teeth, one by one, without benefit of anesthesia. His nightlong terrorizing of her is carefully planned and executed like a battle, which is how he conceives male-female relations. He takes a perverse pleasure in playing cat-and-mouse games, leading Anita to believe that the three baskets stored beneath his bed contain poisonous serpents, ostentatiously brandishing long knives before her, and persuading her that a voyeuristic sniper is watching them from a window across the street. The eroticism of the novel is pronounced, and the dialogue is liberally laced with sexual innuendo.
The atmosphere of La agonía de Proserpina is claustrophobic; the two characters spend a stiflingly hot summer night confined in one room of Juan's small apartment. Such spatial and temporal reduction is typical of Tomeo's fiction. The sense of inevitability is intensified by the fact that what happens has already been written (in Juan's novel) and has mythological antecedents, in that Anita, dressed in a flowered skirt, is linked with Proserpina. Recurrent references to time, which moves inexorably toward dawn and Anita's death, and the persistent ringing of the telephone heightens the tension.
Kathleen M. Glenn
Wake Forest University