The Spanish American "Bildungsroman</I>
Chapter Two. Argentina: Apprentices and Bohemians 17
• C H A P T E R T W O • Argentina: Apprentices and Bohemians y the early Twentieth Century, Argentina had become a major cultural and commercial center in Spanish America.1 Increased industry and urbanization, combined with a tidal wave of immigration, made this a dynamic period in which the country found itself experiencing the growing pains of economic modernity (Martin, Sarlo).2 In reference to the uniqueness of the colonial history of Latin America, the social historian Jorge Larrain posits that “the Latin American trajectory to modernity is different from other models, in spite of sharing many features” (24), which bolsters our assertion that the Spanish American incarnation of the Bildungsroman—the “sym- bolic form” of modernity—is also different from its European coun- terparts.3 Moreover, in the literary realm, Gerald Martin describes the 1920s as “the highpoint of Modernism itself,” citing “the acutely contradictory, heterogeneous or plural elements and discourses generated within uneven development” in the region (Martin 361).4 It is in this uncertain socioeconomic environment that Ricardo Güiraldes and Roberto Arlt each managed to create enduring artistic responses to the pervasive sense of social tension that afflicted the nation and its citizens during this time of growth. Güiraldes’s Don Segundo Sombra (1926) and Arlt’s El juguete rabioso (1926) are two novels that, on the surface, could not be more different. Closer examination, however, reveals that they are two sides of the same coin, both a response to the changing times in Argentina in the...
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