The Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative


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Rolena Adorno

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In this book on early Latin American narrative, Rolena Adorno argues that the foundations of the Latin American literary tradition are located in the writings that debated the rights to Spanish dominion in the Americas and the treatment of its natives. Placing the works of canonical Spanish and Amerindian writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—Bartolomé de las Casas in particular—within this larger polemic, she shows how their works sought credibility through reference to the narrative accounts they followed or contradicted, rather than the historical events they sought to defend or condemn. Demonstrating how these authors and their protagonists have been polemically reinvented in narrative form up to the present day, Adorno elucidates the role the “polemics of possession” played in the development of Latin American literary and political discourse.

Recipient of the 2014 Modern Language Association Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement, Rolena Adorno is Sterling Professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University. She is the author of Colonial Latin American Literature: A Very Short Introduction, Guaman Poma: Writing and Resistance in Colonial Peru, and coauthor of the award-winning Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: His Account, His Life, and the Expedition of Pánfilo de Narváez. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“A rigorous, meticulous, and imaginative scholar, Adorno elucidates the whole corpus of Latin American colonial writing.”—Mary Louise Pratt, Silver Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Professor of Comparative Literature, New York University  

"This book will be a landmark in the study of Latin American literature and thought."—Roberto González Echevarría, author of Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literature at Yale 

"Well researched and thoroughly documented, this volume is a must read for anyone interested in colonial Spanish America. Highly recommended."—Choice

"That Adorno handles such broad and complex material with painstaking attention to detail and nuance makes this work of great interest to specialists in colonial Latin American literature and cultural history. Moreover, Adorno's clear prose and nimble introductions to complex subjects will appeal to non-specialists as well. . . . This superb synthesis will find readers among literary historians and critics as well as historians and anthropologists. It is a major work from one of the most consistently interesting scholars of colonial Latin America."—Michael Ennis, The Americas

This book is a masterful reminder that often the chroniclers of the Indies chose 'the etheral airiness of myth to the cold antechamber of the archive...'"—Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Hispanic American Historical Review

'This book is a masterful example of Rolena Adorno's scholarship.' — Song No, Bulletin of Spanish Studies

Rolena Adorno is the recipient of the seventh Modern Language Association Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement

Winner of the 2007 Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize, given by the Modern Language Association.
ISBN: 9780300214765
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
448 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
25 b/w illus.