Civilisation and Authenticity

The Search for Cultural Uniqueness in the Narrative Fiction of Alejo Carpentier and Julio Cortázar

by Eugenia Demuro (Author)
©2013 Monographs XXIX, 195 Pages
Series: Latin America, Volume 25


The question «What is Latin America?» has been at the heart of writing from and about Latin America from Columbus’ conquest to present-day discussions and nationalising projects. What this belies is the inherent question «What is Latin America compared to Europe?» This book lays bare the underlying logic of a Latin Americanist discourse through some of the continent’s most influential thinkers, including Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, José Martí, José Enrique Rodó, José Vasconcelos, Fernando Ortiz, Roberto Fernández Retamar, Néstor García Canclini, and Walter Mignolo.
Civilisation and Authenticity presents case studies of two of Latin America’s most renowned and representative twentieth-century writers, the Cuban Alejo Carpentier and the Argentine Julio Cortázar and reveals how desire to define Latin America is entwined throughout their groundbreaking experimental novels, focusing on Carpentier’s Los pasos perdidos (1953) and Cortázar’s Rayuela (1963). New research into the poetics of these authors and jargon-free analyses of their fiction outline how the Latin Americanist discourse persists in both writers’ representations of the Latin American landscape and people as either Europe’s «authentic» and marvelous «Other», or its «civilised» and modern counterpart.
Civilisation and Authenticity presents new research for experts on Carpentier and Cortázar and will be indispensable to students of Latin American literature. Its delineation of the Latin Americanist discourse makes it an ideal reference for anybody studying Latin American cultural studies.


XXIX, 195
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2013 (February)
Julio Cortázar Latin America Alejo Carpentier
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2012. 216 pp.

Biographical notes

Eugenia Demuro (Author)

Eugenia Demuro was awarded her PhD from the University of Sydney, Australia. Her interdisciplinary approach situates literature within historical, social, political, and cultural contexts of production. Dr. Demuro researches and writes across the areas of sociology, literature, and Latin American studies and translation. At present, she is working to understand the geopolitics of decoloniality and to examine what a decolonial aesthetics may look like. Dr. Demuro is Visiting Fellow in the School of Language Studies at the Australian National University.


Title: Civilisation and Authenticity