The Usable Past: The Imagination of History in Recent Fiction of the Americas

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The Usable Past presents a comparative discussion of American literary modes of historical imagining. Taking America in its hemispheric sense, Lois Parkinson Zamora presents a broad-ranging discussion of essential American voices - among them Borges, Hawthorne, Emerson, Williams, Paz, Carpentier, Cather, Fuentes, Cortazar, Rulfo, Cisneros, Puig, Vargas Llosa, Morrison. These writers dramatize the convergences and divergences of history and fiction as they question the nature of both. Zamora argues that they are impelled by a peculiarly American energy - what she calls an "anxiety of origins" - to search for precursors and connect to or invent usable traditions and histories. They conceive of originality not as novelty but as a complicated and enriched relation to their cultural traditions. How American writers thematize usable American pasts, and how their work itself becomes part of the usable past, is Zamora's overarching concern.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521058094
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2007
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. I Anxiety of Origins 1
1 The Usable Past: History as Idea in the Americas 15
2 For the Record: Novels, Newspapers, Narration 40
3 Ancestral Presences: Magical Romance / Magical Realism 76
Pt. II Intertextuality and Tradition 127
4 Synchronic Structures 133
Conversation in The Cathedral
62: A Model Kit
5 Fragmentary Fictions 156
Dulcinea Encantada
Woman Hollering Creek
6 Cliches and Community 178
The Kiss of the Spider Woman
Macho Camacho's Beat
Comparative Conclusions: Baroque New Worlds 196
Notes 211
Index 251
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