“The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own serves only to make us more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.”
Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Lecture, 1982
In the second half of this century, we have been told, the Latin American novel came of age. Authors no longer felt constrained to subject indigenous contents to alien forms. Instead contents suggested forms truly representative of societies, polities, and cultures in search of identity and struggling with numerous historic problems, some not even of their own region's making.
Although Latin American novels have long been recognized as important to the area's cultural development, as indicators of literary achievement, and as valuable sources for scholars, few works published between Machado de Assis's Dom Casmuro (1900) and Miguel Angel Asturias's Men of Corn (Hombres de maiz, 1949) could be described as aesthetic magna opera. In the long hiatus essayists took up the task of portraying reality, producing such classics as Euclides da Cunha's Rebellion in the Backlands (Os Sertões, 1902), José Vasconcelos's The Cosmic Race (La raza cósmica, 1925), José Carlos Mariátegui's Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality (Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana, 1927), Alberto Edwards Vives's The Aristocratic Fronde (La fronda aristocrática, 1927), and Ezequiel Martínez Estrada's X-Ray of the Pampa (Radiografía de la pampa, 1933).