Latin American intellectuals have traditionally debated their region’s history, never with so much agreement as in the fiction, commentary, and scholarship of the late twentieth century. Collisions with History shows how “fictional histories” of discovery and conquest, independence and early nationhood, and the recent authoritarian past were purposeful revisionist collisions with received national versions. These collisions occurred only because of El Boom, thus making Latin America’s greatest literary movement a historical phenomenon as well. Frederick M. Nunn discusses the cataclysmic view of history conveyed in Boom novels and examines the thought and self-perception of selected authors whose political activism enhanced the appeal of their works—historical and otherwise: Alejo Carpentier, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, and Augusto Roa Bastos; Julio Cortázar, Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Darcy Ribeiro.
Collisions with History demonstrates how their commentary on history, literature, politics, and international affairs reveals a conscious sense of purpose. From between the lines of their nonfiction emerges a consensus that outside forces have defined as well as controlled Latin America’s history.
Professor Nunn also suggests that, with novelists now no longer very interested in colliding with history, it may fall to social scientists to speak for what remains of the region’s past in the New World Order.
Frederick M. Nunn is a visiting professor of history and Latin American studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The author and editor of many works on Latin America, he is former vice provost for international affairs at Portland State University.
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