Writing across Cultures

Narrative Transculturation in Latin America

Writing across Cultures

Latin America Otherwise

More about this series

Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: Published: May 2012

Author: Angel Rama

Translator: David Frye

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

Ángel Rama was one of twentieth-century Latin America's most distinguished men of letters. Writing across Cultures is his comprehensive analysis of the varied sources of Latin American literature. Originally published in 1982, the book links Rama's work on Spanish American modernism with his arguments about the innovative nature of regionalist literature, and it foregrounds his thinking about the close relationship between literary movements, such as modernism or regionalism, and global trends in social and economic development.

In Writing across Cultures, Rama extends the Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz's theory of transculturation far beyond Cuba, bringing it to bear on regional cultures across Latin America, where new cultural arrangements have been forming among indigenous, African, and European societies for the better part of five centuries. Rama applies this concept to the work of the Peruvian novelist, poet, and anthropologist José María Arguedas, whose writing drew on both Spanish and Quechua, Peru's two major languages and, by extension, cultures. Rama considered Arguedas's novel Los ríos profundos (Deep Rivers) to be the most accomplished example of narrative transculturation in Latin America. Writing across Cultures is the second of Rama's books to be translated into English.


“Ángel Rama’s Writing Across Cultures: Narrative Transculturation in Latin America is a superb piece of work. The Uruguayan Rama is, along with Peru’s Antonio Cornejo Polar and Brazil’s Antonio Candido, one of the leading lights in Latin American literary criticism. Conceived as part of a series entitled Latin America Otherwise: Languages, Empires, Nations, it runs from romanticism through to modernism and provides a forensic analysis of the prevailing philosophical, socio-economic, sociological and anthropological underpinnings. There can be few better studies.” — Ed Hart, Sounds and Colours

“An excellent introduction acquaints the reader with Rama. . . . Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.” — F. Colecchia, Choice

“Reading this work 30 years out, one is struck not only by its extraordinary creativity and clarity but also by the gradual transformation of Rama’s approach to categories like mestizo or indigenous.” — Ernesto Capello, Hispanic American Historical Review

“At long last, the English-reading world can lay its hands on the series of essays in which the influential Uruguayan literary critic Ángel Rama developed his idea of ‘narrative transculturation.’ Carefully transported to the realm of literary criticism, Rama's idea of transculturation, borrowed from Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortíz, still largely frames debates around regionalist and indigenista literature as well as broader cultural practices. English readers will be well served by David Frye's fluid translation, one that retains the rhythm and deep erudition that govern Rama's linguistic universe, and by an introduction to the thinker that specialists will want to revisit and newcomers will find necessary.”  — Bécquer Seguín, Comparatist

“This excellent translation is welcome. Rama's thesis will now have a chance to be known by scholars of cultural studies at large and thus his seminal ideas will circulate and be disseminated widely as the reach of global English grows. . . . Writing across Cultures should be necessary reading for scholars working in cultural studies, global literature, diaspora studies, and post colonial problematics and of course, Latin America's vast cultural history.” — Sara Castro-Klaren, European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"…David Frye has done a very good job as editor and translator. His translation is always respectful to the fluidity of ideas, new concepts, elaborate arguments, historical allusions, erudite references, profuse connotation, and blind spots in Rama´s text." — Abril Trigo, Postcolonial Text

"Writing across Cultures is not only an important text for students of Latin America; Ángel Rama's argument has a broader relevance to cultures that have had a peripheral relation to the metropolis. This English translation will be of great interest to those engaged in subaltern, postcolonial, and area studies. In addition, by enabling debates about transculturation to be resituated in a more global context, it will prove useful to students of comparative literatures and cultures." — Jean Franco, author of Critical Passions

"In a sense, modern Latin American literary and cultural criticism has been in a dialogue with Ángel Rama's notion of 'narrative transculturation,' first advanced in these essays. It is good to have them available in a superb English translation." — John Beverley, author of Latinamericanism after 9/11


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ángel Rama (1926–1983) was a noted literary critic, journalist, editor, publisher, and educator. He left his native Uruguay after the military takeover in 1973 and subsequently taught at the University of Venezuela and the University of Maryland. He is the author of many books, including The Lettered City, also published by Duke University Press. David Frye is a writer and translator who teaches Latin American studies courses at the University of Michigan. He is the translator of Guaman Poma’s First New Chronicle and Good Government (1615), José Joaquín Fernandez de Lizardi’s The Mangy Parrot (1816), and several Cuban and Spanish novels and poems.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series ix

Introduction xi

Part I

1. Literature and Culture 3

2. Regions, Cultures, and Literatures 37

Part II

Introduction to Part II 81

3. The Andean Cultural Area 85

4. The Saga of the Mestizo 119

5. Mythic Intelligence 133

Part III

6. The Novel, a Beggar's Opera 159

7. The Crisscrossing Rivers of Myth and History 189

Notes 215

Index 239
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5293-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5285-3
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