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Chapter 15 - The Return of the Galleons: Transitions in the Work of Alejo Carpentier

from Part IV - Aesthetics and Innovation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 January 2023

Amanda Holmes
Affiliation:
McGill University, Montréal
Par Kumaraswami
Affiliation:
University of Reading
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Summary

According to Carpentier, Columbus rounded, rounded off, and rounded up the planet at a very high cost for the Indigenous cultures of nuestra América (our America). Gradually, a new culture emerged from all the possible hybridizations of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Carpentier also stated that, in order for the novel to exist, there had to be a tradition: the first narratives were for domestic consumption, and it was not until the mid-twentieth century that the avalanche began with El reino de este mundo (The Kingdom of This World) and Los pasos perdidos (The Lost Steps). It was in effect the return to Europe of the galleons that once left Palos de Moguer in Spain, but now carrying another, different, culture. Several factors contributed to Carpentier’s awakening in postwar Europe: the dominance of fiction, somewhat exhausted by the weight of tradition and tired avant-garde formulas, was supplemented by a growing interest in the documentary, thanks to advances in photography and printing. Meanwhile, in Latin America a new approach to the novel was generated via storytelling, linking the particular to the universal. The historical novel was transformed and now demonstrated, alongside an only partially explored physical world, the questions that preoccupy all humankind.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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