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Journeys of Formation

The Spanish American "Bildungsroman</I>


Yolanda A. Doub

Ideal for students of modern Latin American literature, Journeys of Formation: The Spanish American ‘Bildungsroman’ offers a lucid introduction to the Bildungsroman as a genre before revealing how the journey motif works as both a plot-forming device and as a means of characterization in several of the most canonical Spanish American Bildungsromane. In the process, the author demonstrates the overlooked importance of the travel motif in this genre. Although present in the vast majority of Bildungsromane, if the journey is discussed at all by critics it tends to be in superficial terms. The author contends that no discussion of the Spanish American novel of formation would be complete without an exploration of travel. Yolanda A. Doub articulates the role of travel as a catalyst in the formation process of young male and female protagonists by examining in detail six representative novels from three different countries and time periods – from Argentina: Ricardo Güiraldes’s Don Segundo Sombra (1926) and Roberto Arlt’s El juguete rabioso (1926); from Peru: José María Arguedas’s Los ríos profundos (1958) and Julio Ramón Ribeyro’s Crónica de San Gabriel (1960); and from Mexico: Rosario Castellanos’s Balún Canán (1957) and Elena Poniatowska’s La «Flor de Lis» (1988).


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Chapter Three. Peru: Nomads and Tourists 43


• C H A P T E R T H R E E • Peru: Nomads and Tourists uring the early part of the twentieth century, the polarization of Peruvian society was reaching a critical point. The leading problems behind the growing call for revolution in Peru are articulated by the social critic José Carlos Mariátegui in his seminal text, Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana (1928). Moreo- ver, the sociologist Julio Cotler, author of Clases, estado y nación en el Perú (1978), summarizes the tensions as actually being multilateral on social, geographic, and economic planes, and attributable in no small measure to the country’s colonial inheritance. He notes that one of the frequently-cited causes of the predicament faced by modern Peru is “la carencia de una identidad colectiva con el consiguiente sen- timiento de solidaridad nacional entre indios, cholos, mestizos, asiáticos, negros y blancos; costeños y serranos; burgueses, terrat- enientes, obreros, feudatorios y comuneros” (18).1 The two novels that comprise the focus of this chapter exemplify the social, political, and individual conflicts of their time and milieu. In a country with a distinguished canon of literature, José María Arguedas’s Los ríos profundos (1958) stands out as a novel that signifi- cantly revises the indigenista subgenre to present a richer characteriza- tion of the Andean population and of the complexities of Peru as a hybrid society in crisis.2 Gerald Martin describes Los ríos profundos as “a mythical conception which is one...

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