The Gaucho Genre

A Treatise on the Motherland

The Gaucho Genre

Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: Published: July 2002

Author: Josefina Ludmer

Translator: Molly Weigel

Latin American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Literary Theory

Hailed when first published in Spanish in 1988 as one of the best contemporary examples of Latin American critical thought, Josefina Ludmer’s El género gauchesco describes the emergence of gaucho poetry—which uses the voice of the cowboy of the Argentine pampas for political purposes—as an urgent encounter of popular and elite tradition, of subaltern and hegemonic discourses. Molly Weigel’s translation captures the original's daringly innovative literary flavor, making available for the first time in English a book that opened a new arena in Latin American cultural history.
By examining the formation of a genre whose origins predated the consolidation of Argentina as a nation-state but that gained significance only after the country's independence, Ludmer elucidates the relationship of literature to the state, as well as the complex positionings of gender within the struggle for independence. She develops a sociological investigation of “outsider” culture through close textual analyses of works by Hidalgo, Ascasubi, Del Campo, Hernandez, Sarmiento, and Borges. This inquiry culminates in the assertion that language, marked as it is by the collisions of high and low culture, constitutes the central issue of Latin American modernization and modernism. Extensive annotation renders this edition of Ludmer's seminal study easily accessible for a North American audience.
The Gaucho Genre’s far-reaching implications will make it valuable reading for a varied audience. While teachers and students of Latin American literature and criticism will find it an important resource, it will also interest those concerned with the processes of nation-building or in the complex intersections of dominant and marginal voices.


"[T]his is a classic study both ethically and critically. . . . [I]t embodies a particular intellectual stand against unreason and inhumanity in the motherland in which the verbal pyrotechnics of the critical imagination open up a complex dialogue on transculturation, national identity, and subalternity. . . . [A]n exciting, often contentious, contribution to ethnic, gender, and subalternity studies." — K.M. Sibbald , Choice

"The sophisticated analysis of the book captures the complex formation of a genre and of a nation. The translation of this important book, published in Spanish in 1988, is most welcome. The extensive annotations of this edition render it more accessible for a foreign audience." — Eduardo P. Archetti , Bulletin of Latin American Research

“Ludmer deals in a highly original way with the constitution of a genre—she comments and parodies, reflects and self-reflects. Erudite without being pompous, The Gaucho Genre constitutes an invigorating force.” — Jean Franco, Columbia University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Josefina Ludmer is Professor of Latin American Literature at Yale University.

Molly Weigel is a freelance writer, translator, and assessment specialist with the Educational Testing Service.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Prologue to the second Spanish edition

Acknowledgments: On the Side of the Gift

1. The Body of the Genre and Its Borders: Essay toward the Construction of a Context and a System of Objects

I. On the Side of Use

II. On the Side of the Master, on the Side of the Gift

2. Challenge and Lament, the Intonations of the Motherland

3. In the Inferno’s Paradise

The Argentine Fausto

A Pastiche of Literary Criticism

4. Pact and Motherland

The Trickery of Hernández’s Professor’s Curandera

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2844-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2830-8
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