Lucas Guevara

Overview

"This is the English translation of Lucas Guevara, the first Spanish-language novel of immigration to the United States, Written by Colombian emigre Alirio Diaz Guerra and originally published in the United States in 1914, the novel establishes the structure and formula that numerous other Spanish-language narratives produced in this country would take up over the course of the twentieth century." "Freshly arrived from the pristine countryside of South America, Lucas quickly becomes a victim of the modern Metropolis, its treacherous rogues, and
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Lucas Guevara (English version)

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Overview

"This is the English translation of Lucas Guevara, the first Spanish-language novel of immigration to the United States, Written by Colombian emigre Alirio Diaz Guerra and originally published in the United States in 1914, the novel establishes the structure and formula that numerous other Spanish-language narratives produced in this country would take up over the course of the twentieth century." "Freshly arrived from the pristine countryside of South America, Lucas quickly becomes a victim of the modern Metropolis, its treacherous rogues, and its immoral women. Lucas finds no streets paved with gold. Instead he ultimately succumbs to the pleasures of the flesh and becomes an unscrupulous predator himself." From Lucas Guevara on, the Hispanic novel of immigration developed as a counter-narrative to the myths of the American Dream and the melting pot. Especially noteworthy are Diaz Guerra's satirical descriptions of the nightlife in the Bowery and the culture of New York boarding houses during the period when at least forty percent of the city's inhabitants were immigrants. Kanellos and Hernandez trace the author's development as a writer and study Lucas Guevara in the context of Hispanic history and immigrant literature.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2004

    A fascinating view of Old New York

    As an avid reader of New York history I found Lucas Guevara to be a captivating and intriguing novel. Little did I know that about the same time that writers like Stephen Crane, O. Henry and Theodore Dreiser were writing about life in cobblestone and gaslight New York, there was an author writing poetry and fiction about the Latino perspective in turn-of-the-century New York. Now, thanks to Arte Publico Press, Houston, and their Recovering the U. S. Hispanic Literary Heritage series, this fine novel has been brought to light. Its author was a Colombian journalist and poet named Alirio Díaz Guerra, who was born in 1862 and lived here in New York until his death, probably in the 1930s. Lucas Guevara was published in 1914 and it¿s believed to be the first Hispanic novel of immigration. In the stilted prose of the times, Guerra weaves the tragic story of Lucas Guevara; the son of a South American businessman, who finds Lucas a sponsor that sends him to New York to study, acquire a career and return home so that he may better serve his community. But the sponsor has dealings with shady characters in Gotham who exploit the impressionable Lucas, and cheat his father back home. He soon follows a path of hedonism, dissipation and destitution. Although most of his exploiters are fellow Hispanics it is the city itself and American society in general that is the focus of Guerra¿s strident criticism. He contrasts Lucas¿s simple rural upbringing with the countless temptations the sinful city has to offer. To the immigrant the land of opportunity has its destructive elements, financial and spiritual. We hear the clanking sounds of the trolley cars, wagon wheels on cobblestones, the crowds in their straight-laced apparel. And we get to see life in boarding houses, and a peep at houses of ill repute. The novel has an informative introduction, was very well translated from the original Spanish and contains many fine pen and ink drawings. All in all Lucas Guevara is a welcome addition to Hispanic history and immigrant literature.

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