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Volume 50 / Humanities


Colonial Period

DANIEL R. REEDY, Professor of Spanish, University of Kentucky

SPANISH AMERICAN LITERATURE of the colonial period continues to draw the attention of an ever-growing number of scholars. Perhaps the most noteworthy trend in recent years is seen in the several studies which focus on depictions of what constitutes the "literature" of the colonial New World. One of the first ground-breaking studies on this topic was Enrique Pupo-Walker's La vocación literaria del pensamiento histórico en América (see HLAS 46:5066). In this biennium, we note Margarita Zamora's article "Historicity and Literariness" (item bi 89007321), in which the author asks a central question of why non-literary texts were incorporated into the cultural category of "colonial literature," and ponders how this was achieved. Her observations examine in particular the colonial historical narrative and its treatment as literature.

Articles by Rolena Adorno and Walter Mignolo in the journal Dispositio (item bi 89007253) also deal with topics related to the defining of literature and historiography in the New World. Adorno's "Literary Production and Suppression" treats the relationship between the chivalric romance and writings about Amerindian culture. The focus of Mignolo's article "La Lengua, la Letra, el Territorio" is summed up in the parenthetical subtitle "La Crisis de los Estudios Literarios Coloniales," that is to say, the attempt to discern and define colonial Spanish American literature as part of the "discourses of the colonial period." These efforts to define what is meant by culture, literature, and historiography are clear indicators of a maturing scholarly process which explores different approaches to the discourse of the colonial period. Several related articles will likely appear in the near future, an outgrowth of the Symposium on Colonial Culture and Historiography held as part of the Univ. of Kentucky's annual Foreign Language Conference in April 1988.

Several editions of major works are included in this listing. Three, in particular, are worthy of special note. The rigorously prepared edition of the Purén indómito (item bi 89007297) presents the most reliable version of this poem in more than a century. Also, the editorial work of Sylvia L. Hilton provides the text of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega's La Florida del Inca (item bi 89007323) based on the 1605 princeps. Finally, J. S. Cummins and Alan Soons have published a modernized version of Siguënza y Góngora's Los infortunios de Alonso Ramírez (item bi 89007306).

The relatively obscure figure of the 18th-century Peruvian poet and dramatist Fray Francisco del Castillo is being brought to the fore in several scholarly studies. Concepción Reverte's book-length study of Castillo (item bi 89007269) provides important information on aspects of the writer's biography, the context of the viceregal theater, and analyses of his works. In a separate article, she deals with aspects of one of Castillo's historical dramas (item bi 89007271), whereas Daniel Reedy (item bi 89007251) examines the nature of the satirical poetry of the fraile who was also known as the Ciego de la Merced. Reverte's bibliography on the viceregal theater (item bi 89007319) contains more than 350 sources on Castillo and others. She also announces a proposed edition of Francisco del Castillo's dramatic works in the near future - a welcome contribution on this important figure. The works of another satirist, Peruvian Juan del Valle y Caviedes, are examined in Frederick Luciani's analysis of one of his dramatic pieces (item bi 89007256); and Daniel Reedy (item bi 89007267) points out sources for several of Caviedes' poems in Latin hymns and in works by other known authors.

Several monographic studies could be singled out for note. Two, however, are clearly models of the high quality of scholarship being devoted to colonial letters. Alicia de Colombí-Monguió's study of Diego Dávalos y Figueroa (item bi 89007243), his life, the Petrarchan tradition in the poetry of the Miscelánea austral (1602), and the intellectual and cultural tradition in Europe and the New World, is an outstanding piece of scholarship. Rolena Adorno's volume on the Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (item bi 88000434) emphasizes Guamán Poma's role as a marginalized writer as well as other noteworthy aspects of his work. This contribution by Adorno will stand as a kind of culmination of a decade of study by many scholars devoted to this major colonial writer.

The anthology of colonial Spanish American poetry (item bi 89007299) edited by Antonio de la Campa and Raquel Chang-Rodríguez is a welcome source for literary history as well as anthologized selections of works from precolumbian indigenous poets to Mariano Melgar on the eve of independence. It will be a welcome text for classroom use and reference. Also, The book in the Americas (item bi 89007316), based on a catalog of an exhibition by Julie Greer Johnson at the John Carter Brown Library in June 1987, is a fundamental reference text for students, bibliophiles and other scholars of colonial letters and intellectual history. I wish to thank Dr. A. Félix Bolaños for his assistance in preparing this contribution.

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