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El Boomeran(g)

El blog literario latinoamericano

miércoles, 17 de julio de 2019

 Blog de Julio Ortega

Tramas de El Norte


EL NORTE

The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America

By Carrie Gibson

539 pp. Atlantic Monthly Press 2019

 

One hundred years before the arrival of the Pilgrims, the Mexicans were already here. With typical dark humor, Alfredo Bryce Echenique used to say that when God ordered Fiat lux, Hispanics were already late with the bill for Bell. Carlos Fuentes was 10 years old when his father, a Mexican diplomat in Washington DC, took him to see a film that included the secession of Texas from Mexico. The boy stood up in the dark and cried, “Viva Mexico!” It was a sense of duty he carried all his life. García Márquez journeyed to the South, following in Faulkner’s steps. Perhaps he saw at the cinema a silent short about a man in front of the firing squad watching his whole life rolling back as a calendar in reverse. In his own Faulknerean accounts of too many years of solitude he adds that the Americans, with the excuse of eradicating yellow fever, stayed in the Caribbean far too long. Fuentes was once forbidden to disembark from a ship in Puerto Rico, and García Márquez was asked to strip naked at customs.

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America  is the book that Americans, Anglo and Hispanic, should read as an education on their own American place or role. Crossing the borders has become a formal rite de passagetowards identity, a dramatic task in Spanish because we have eight names for the Wall, English only four. Thus, Latin Americans are experts in dealing with walls, fences, and barriers.  The history of miss-readings has created a phantom of the Law of the Land that goes around as Mexican, Hispanic American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Caribbean, and Latin American. Not to mention Latino, Mestizo, Mulato, Asians, Native, Anglo Americans, and every other wall of misrepresentation. This formidable display of categorization, conflicts, and crossroads has produced the most complex, intricate cultural system of representing ethnic territories, racial mappings, and exclusionary perceptions. To split the atom has proved to be easier than to split a prejudice. The civil society reinforced what is not-inclusive: skin color, religion, and language. This formidable racialization demonstrated an identity forged, across the border, from the color of the others, languages of origin, religions, and bone size. An historian from Cambridge, Carrie Gibson carries on the formidable task of accounting for the relevant and telling cases of our modern process of national formation and regional negotiations. This is a serious book of history but also an engaging project of reading the future in the past. That is, we still are working in the American grain.

            As a forgotten epic, one can read this story as a most reliable travel guide. It is a long ride along the map of an elusive but powerful history that, even if new to most of us, is a familiar tale of many nations moving beyond the walls into a territory of common goals. In most of the cities there was someone writing and protesting, forging from modest presses a regional demand of a possible public space, the voice of a civilization of the law against intolerance and violence. To those forgotten heroes of the press, journalist and chroniclers, travelers and booksellers, the reader owns his reading. Of course, some cases are more tragic than others, as is the painful history of Puerto Rico, were the Tainos, the pacific society that Columbus encountered, had an easy laugh and were curious as children. We now know, thanks to the Spanish historian Consuelo Varela, that Columbus stopped their baptism as Christians in order to sell them as slaves; he even managed to get a percentage from the first bordello in the Americas. The Tainos, of course, disappeared, but the Caribbean decided otherwise. They didn’t appreciate Columbus’ marbles, and would have returned to Mr. Trump paper towels he throws to the victims of the last hurricane. History repeats itself, now as shame.

What is fascinating about this book is that its encyclopedic project is not a rewriting of history but a telling of readings. Almost each historical event is retold within the sequence of facts, memory, recording, evaluation, and discussion. That is, history leaves the mourning authority of archives and takes its place in a long conversation that settles down a modicum of evidence as common truth. The notion that truth could be reached through dialogue presupposes a long pilgrimage, a travel through violence, discrimination, racism, the locus of the Inferno created by occupation, exploitation and low salaries. The narrative becomes not a tribunal but the locus of a dialogue that plays a classic role, that of offering hospice to language and shelter to the lost of meaning imposed by violence. Mexico lost half its territory and many lives, but the voices of Thoreau and Lincoln were of alarm and hope. The model of replacing a tribunal with a conversation, was propose by Montaigne when, lacking friends, lamented that Plato was not here to talk about the wonders of the New World and their inhabitants, whom ignored the distinction between mine and yours.

The author lets the facts speak. But one would like to keep reading the saga of memory, that is, the literary version of the epic and the labors of fiction. Domingo F. Sarmiento came to the US to learn from American progress, and as president of Argentina to replicate those monuments of civilization: schools, railroads, immigration...Each of them fell short of the expectations. José Martí loved New York, but found that people was made of “yeast of tigers.” García Márquez retells the American arrival to the South in Macondo—they discover the banana, move the river, bring modern tools, but all ends in a massacre. Fuentes retells the story of an old writer who moves to Mexico: “A Gringo in Mexico, that is euthanasia.” Bolaño recounts the number of women killed around the maquiladoras. The border but also the migration, and not only narcotics but also life in-between elaborates a new mixture of Tarantino and Rulfo in Yuri Herrera’s fiction. The displacement of women in the novels of Carmen Boullosa and Cristina Rivera Garza as well as the chronicles of Heribeto Yépez on dying-daily in Tijuana explore the new discourses of sorrow.  The North is also a growing space of re-reading. The Mexican American senior novelist, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, used to say that he, as a kid from El Valle, started reading fiction translated into Spanish. He thought that all writers were Mexicans, despite some strange names— Dumas, Chejov, Dos Passos. It seems that el Norte is not only a Cemetery. It is also a national Library.  J.O. The New York Times Book Review. March 10, 2019.

 

[Publicado el 06/6/2019 a las 00:33]

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Biografía

Perú, 1942. Después de estudiar Literatura en la Universidad Católica, en Lima,  y publicar su primer libro de crítica,  La contemplación y la fiesta (1968), dedicado al "boom" de la novela latinoamericana, emigró a Estados Unidos invitado como profesor visitante por las Universidades de Pittsburgh y Yale. Vivió en Barcelona (1971-73) como traductor y editor. Volvió de profesor a la Universidad de Texas, Austin, donde en 1978 fue nombrado catedrático de literatura latinoamericana. Lo fue también en la Universidad de Brandeis y desde 1989 lo es en la Universidad de Brown, donde ha sido director del Departamento de Estudios Hispánico y actualmente es director del Proyecto Transatlántico. Ha sido profesor visitante en Harvard, NYU,  Granada y Las Palmas, y ocupó la cátedra Simón Bolívar de la Universidad de Cambridge. Es miembro de las academias de la lengua de Perú, Venezuela, Puerto Rico y Nicaragua. Ha recibido la condecoración Andrés Bello del gobierno de Venezuela en 1998 y es doctor honorario por las universidades del Santa y Los Angeles, Perú, y la Universidad Americana de Nicaragua. Consejero de las cátedras Julio Cortázar (Guadajara, México), Alfonso Reyes (TEC, Monterrey), Roberto Bolaño (Universidad Diego Portales, Chile) y Jesús de Polanco (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid/Fundación Santillana). Dirije las series Aula Atlántica en el Fondo de Cultura Económica, EntreMares en la Editorial Veracruzana, y Nuevos Hispanismos en Iberoamericana-Vervuert.  Ha obtenido los premios Rulfo de cuento (París), Bizoc de novela breve (Mallorca), Casa de América de ensayo (Madrid) y el COPE de cuento (Lima). De su crítica ha dicho Octavio Paz:"Ortega practica el mejor rigor crítico: el rigor generoso."

Bibliografía

Crítica

 

Transatlantic Translations. Londres: Reaktion Books 2006

 

Rubén Darío y la lectura mutua. Barcelona: Omega 2004

 

Caja de herramientas. Prácticas culturales para el nuevo siglo chileno. Santiago: LOM 2000

 

El principio radical de lo nuevo. Lima: FCE 1997

 

Retrato de Carlos Fuentes. Madrid: Circulo de Lectores 1995

 

Arte de innovar. Mexico: UNAM 1994

 

El discurso de la abundancia. Caracas: Monte Ávila 1992

 

Una poética del cambio. Prólogo de José Lezama Lima. Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho 1992

 

Reapropiaciones: Cultura y literatura en Puerto Rico. San Juan: EUPR 1991

 

Gabriel García Márquez and the Powers of Fiction. Austin: Texas Press 1988

 

Crítica de la Identidad. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica 1988

 

Cultura y modernidad en la Lima del 900. Lima: CEDEP 1987

 

Poetics of Change, The New Spanish-American Narrative. Austin: Texas Press 1986

 

Figuración de la persona. Barcelona: Edhasa 1971

 

La contemplación y la fiesta. Caracas: Monte Ávila 1969

 

 

Ficción

 

Teoria del viaje y otras prosas. Madrid: Ediciones del Centro 2009

 

Adiós Ayacucho. Lima: U de San Marcos 2007

 

Puerta Sechin. Tres novelas breves. México: Jorale Ed. 2005

 

Habanera. Palma de Mallorca: Bitzoc, 1999; Lima: Fondo PUC 2001

 

Emotions. Poems. New York: 2000

 

La mesa del padre. Cuentos. Caracas: Monte Ávila 1995

 

Ayacucho, Good Bye. Pittsburgh: Latin American Review Press 1994

 

 

Ediciones

 

México Transatlántico. Con Celia del Palacio. México: FCE 2008

 

Rubén Darío: Poesía. Barcelona: Círculo de Lectores 2007

 

Carlos Fuentes: Obra reunida. México: FCE 2006

 

Gaborio. Arte de Releer a Gabriel García Márquez. México: Jorale 2004

 

"El Aleph" de Jorge Luis Borges, ed. Critica. Con E. del Río Parra. México: El Colegio de México 2008

 

The Picador Book of Latin American Stories. Con Carlos Fuentes. London: Picador 1998; New York: Viking 2000

 

Alfredo Bryce Echenique: La vida exagerada de Martín Romaña. Con M.F. Lander. Madrid: Cátedra 2002

 

Antología del cuento latinoamericano del siglo XXI. México: Siglo XXI 1997

 

La Cervantiada. Madrid: Libertarias 1994

 

César Vallejo: Trilce. Madrid: Cátedra 1996

 

Julio Cortázar: Rayuela. Con Saúl Yurkievich. París: Archivos 1993

 

America Latina in its Literature. Con César Fernández Moreno. New York 1984

Enlaces

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