Latin American Literature Does Not Exist Anymore – Jorge Volpi

Three Percent posted part two of Jorge Volpi’s thoughts on Latin American Literature, or perhaps better said, writing that comes from Latin America. Essentially, he states what should be obvious with some fore thought: not all writers in Latin America write about the same thing and the Boom and Magical Realism were nothing more than a straight jacket.

Let us be radical: Latin American literature does not exist anymore. Lovely: hundreds or thousands of Latin American writers exist, or better said, hundred of thousands of Chilean, Honduran, Dominican, Venezuelan (et cetera) writers exist, but a unique literary body endowed with recognizable characteristics, no. We have just seen it: the Spanish language is not a shared characteristic. And, if truth be told, there is nothing to lament.

The idea of a national literature, with typical and unrepeatable peculiarities, completely different from any other, is an anachronistic invention of the 19th century. As Benedict Anderson demonstrated in Imagined Communities (1983), the incipient European states were the ones that, threatened by popular revolts in that period, persisted in accentuating the consensus of its citizens through all kinds of schemes, patronage of the national literatures being one of the most powerful.


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