The concept of "American" literature is not the exclusive province of any one nation. Thanks to the historical circumstances that governed the European conquest and settlement of the Americas, we can and should approach the writings of English and French Canada, the United States, Spanish America, and Brazil as a cohesive group of American literature, worthy of study without constant reference to European texts. Now, Rediscovering the New World makes a timely addition to this expanding field on Inter-American scholarship that should help lead tothe formation of a new canon.
This adventurous and ambitious work begins with an examination of Pre-Columbian literature (and shows that his powerful tradition remains alive and well in the twentieth century), then confronts the narratives of discovery and conquest, the New World epic, identity as the Ur-theme of American literature, miscegenation as another integral theme, and regionalism as a shaping force. Other striking these and juxtapositions include a comparison of Henry James and Machado de Assis as the first two great New World novelists, modernism as both a distinct literary movement and an amorphous body of aesthetic principles, and the conflict between "civilization" and "barbarism."
More in the exploratory spirit of the French Canadian voyageur than in the spirit of the conquistador, Rediscovering the New World is the first scholarly work in English to integrate an international set of American literary cultures. It should inspire other explorers as the field of Inter-American literary relations continues to evolve.