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Rediscovering The New World: Inter-American Literature in a Comparative Context
by Earl E. Fitz
University of Iowa Press, 1991
Paper: 978-0-87745-330-7 | eISBN: 978-1-58729-064-0
Library of Congress Classification PN843.F58 1991
Dewey Decimal Classification 809/.897


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.

  • Contents 
    • Acknowledgments
    • Introduction
    • 1. 
    • The Pre-Columbian Era
    • 2. 
    • The Narratives of Discovery and Conquest
    • 3. 
    • The New World Epic
    • 4. 
    • The Theme of Miscegenation
    • 5. 
    • Refining the New World Novel: Henry James and Machado de Assis
    • 6. 
    • The Five (Six?) Faces of American Modernism
    • 7. 
    • In Quest of an American Identity
    • 8. 
    • Regionalism as a Shaping Force
    • 9. 
    • Solitude: The Evolution of an American Literary Motif
    • 10. 
    • The Conflict between Civilization and Barbarism
    • Afterword
    • Notes
    • Selected Bibliography
    • Index

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