Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 2 (Jan-Mar 1983) p. 53.


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The Latin American Novel and Marquez

5. P. Ganguly

"Every Latin American writer goes around dragging a heavy body, the body of his people, of his past, of his national history." PABLO NERUDA

BHE DOCUMENTAL and naturalist character of the hispano-american novel in the first hundred years of its existence conformed to the actual conditions of life in the continent where human identity is subject to devouring nature. This tyrannical role was assumed by the native oligarchies and military adventurists in the 19th century post-independence period who, thanks to vastly improved techniques, converted human and natural exploitation into a "second conquest". The Latin American repertory of writings of the period, especially novels, form the chronicle of this melodrama that comes well into the twentieth century. But in the intervening period ambiguous processes occur.

There develops the hispano-american baroque style which, as Lezama Lima suggests, allows a process of synthesis and of fulfilment. It becomes "the art of counter conquest^. It employs the techniques of literary expansion and in the space it thus creates, it incorporates the density of American reality. Although the voluntarist liberalism and the republican rhetorics in the writings were far removed from the historical circumstance as such (consider the dichotomy between the notion of the state and the looseness of the then Latin American nations), and although they tended to legitimize the ideology of the new dominating class, these writings succeeded in transferring the creeping reality of the region to the denseness of the language, thus creating a new and critical genre.

If the 'cronicas' of Inca Garcilaso was a guide to the meso-american social practices, the repertory of the later mestizos reformulates and takes off from these chronicles, transcending their historicist nature, and seeking to expand the cultural model. The structure of its cultural discourse is a window to the knowledge about the American conscious-

Joumal of Arts and Ideas 53


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