Voices from the fuente viva
Amy Nauss Millay
The Effect of Orality in Twentieth-Century Spanish American Narrative
Many twentieth-century Spanish American writers sought to give voice to their countries' native inhabitants. Drawing upon anthropology and literary theory, this book explores the representation of orality by major Spanish American anthropologist-writers: Lydia Cabrera, José María Arguedas, and Miguel Barnet. These writers played a quintessential role of the Spanish American writer from colonial times to the present: they inscribed the mythical world of a vanishing Other by creating a poetic effect of orality in their ethnographies and narratives. This book argues that supposed differences between oral and written culture are rhetorical devices in the elaboration of literature, specifically modern fiction in Spanish America. Fictionalization of the oral requires adherence to the theory of a "great divide" between orality and literacy. Because the texts considered here are predicated on the ideality of speech, a contradiction underlies their shared desire to salvage oral tradition. This book explores how anthropologist-writers have addressed this compelling dilemma in their anthropological and narrative writings.
About the author:
Amy Nauss Millay received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2000. After teaching at M.I.T., she lived for a year in Madrid conducting research. She currently teaches colonial and contemporary Latin American literature at Tufts University, and resides with her husband and three children in Massachusetts.