Alfonso Reyes and the Invention of the Latin American Literary Tradition
Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theory
The Politics of Philology offers an insightful assessment of how the work of Alfonso Reyes helped to create the role of the writer as a public intellectual in Latin America. Robert T. Conn reconstructs Reyes's model of intellectual community, tracing its links to the various strands of the nineteenth-century tradition of philology, and arguing that Reyes was influential in forging a sense of unity among the Latin American writers of his generation based on their belonging to a common artistic circle, and on shared notions about the nature of art and its relation to society.
Conn's method is to read Reyes as he read his contexts, and thus to reconstruct the discursive worlds which Reyes mediated and "wrote over" and which are revealed as embedded in his writings. Conn organizes his argument about Reyes's performance of intellectual community within three contexts: Porfirian and revolutionary Mexico, the Spain of the Generation of '98, and the Argentina of the 1930s. By thus situating Reyes's writings, Conn challenges the image of a writer who was always "himself," always "evolving." Instead, he proposes an alternative understanding of an intellectual who rewrote his past and redefined his philogoical politics as he moved from one context to another.
The Politics of Philology will appeal to scholars of Latin American literature interested in questions of nation formation, and to scholars of Mexican history who have increasingly tended to work with cultural models of historical research.
About the author:
Robert T. Conn is Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Latin American Studies at Wesleyan University.