Roberto Ignacio Díaz
Foreign Tongues and Spanish American Literature
In Unhomely Rooms, Robert Ignacio Díaz explores the practice of writing in English and French by Spanish American authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Traditionally, writers such as the Comtesse Merlin (a Cuban-French author) and W.H. Hudson (the Anglo-American best known for his ornithological works) have been excluded from the established discussion of Spanish-American literature because they wrote in a language other than Spanish. Seeking to revise the notion that "heterolingualism" should lead to literary-historical elision, Díaz underscores the ties that bind the works of these authors to the Spanish American literary canon. Through his close readings of texts by Merlin and Hudson, as well as María Luisa Bombal, G. Cabrera Infante and Carlos Fuentes, foreign tongues emerge as valid, if perplexing, tools of writing for Spanish Americans. Even as he exposes the cultural fragmentation of Spanish America, Díaz's critical gesture allows strangeness to become an integral part not only of individuals, as Freud argues in "The Uncanny," but also of national cultural communities.
About the author:
Roberto Ignacio Díaz is an associate professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California.