Killer Books: Writing, Violence, and Ethics in Modern Spanish American Narrative

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Writing and violence have been inextricably linked in Spanish America from the Conquest onward. Spanish authorities used written edicts, laws, permits, regulations, logbooks, and account books to control indigenous peoples whose cultures were predominantly oral, giving rise to a mingled awe and mistrust of the power of the written word that persists in Spanish American culture to the present day.

In this masterful study, Aníbal González traces and describes how Spanish American ...

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Overview

Writing and violence have been inextricably linked in Spanish America from the Conquest onward. Spanish authorities used written edicts, laws, permits, regulations, logbooks, and account books to control indigenous peoples whose cultures were predominantly oral, giving rise to a mingled awe and mistrust of the power of the written word that persists in Spanish American culture to the present day.

In this masterful study, Aníbal González traces and describes how Spanish American writers have reflected ethically in their works about writing's relation to violence and about their own relation to writing. Using an approach that owes much to the recent "turn to ethics" in deconstruction and to the works of Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas, he examines selected short stories and novels by major Spanish American authors from the late nineteenth through the twentieth centuries: Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, Manuel Zeno Gandía, Teresa de la Parra, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Gabriel García Márquez, and Julio Cortázar. He shows how these authors frequently display an attitude he calls "graphophobia," an intense awareness of the potential dangers of the written word.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Gonz lez (Spanish, Pennsylvania State Univ.) claims that many authors suffer from "graphophobia," an unlikely combination of respect, caution, dread, revulsion, and even contempt for the written word. In the New World, Gonz lez hypothesizes, words were used on a day-to-day basis to deceive, defraud, enslave, and entrap indigenous peoples and imported slaves through a deluge of ledgers, laws, edicts, and writs. The inheritors of these subliminal fears mainly Latin American writers display in their writing not an aversion to writing itself but a need to use writing to condemn the political dominance and moral decrepitude sent over the waters from colonial Spain. Setting out to illustrate such a theme, Gonz lez is quite ambitious. However, she selects only six writers Manuel Gutierrez N jera, Manuel Zeno Gand!a, Teresa de la Parra, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, and Julio Cort zar and analyzes only one example from each. While the book is extremely well crafted (no aversion to the written word from this author), it excludes many important socially conscious Latin American writers. Because of its myopic analyses, Killer Books will prove most useful for academic libraries but will ultimately remain a shelf-sitter in the public domain. Nedra C. Evers, Sacramento P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292728394
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: Killer Books: Writers, Writing, and Ethics in Spanish America 1
Pt. I Abuses 25
Ch. 1 Writing and Child Abuse in Manuel Gutierrez Najera's "La hija del aire" 27
Ch. 2 Silvina's Fall: Manuel Zeno Gandia's Epicurean Ethics of Writing in La charca 47
Ch. 3 Ifigenia's Choice: Teresa de la Parra's Demonic Option 67
Pt. II Admonitions 87
Ch. 4 From Fission to Fiction: Ethical Chain Reactions in Jorge Luis Borges's "The Garden of Forking Paths" 89
Ch. 5 Ethics and Theatricality in Alejo Carpentier's The Harp and the Shadow 105
Ch. 6 Shared Guilt: Writing as Crime in Julio Cortazar's "Press Clippings" 123
Notes 143
Bibliography 163
Index 173
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