The US Literature of Experience and the Latin American Literature of the Reader
This chapter offers a periodization of the literatures of the Americas from the late nineteenth century through the postwar period. After acknowledging the emergence of a brief “transamerican literary imagination” forged in the early nineteenth century, I chart the gradual breakdown of this shared literary imagination in the second half of the nineteenth century and the concomitant rise of two distinct modes of literary production in the hemisphere: the US literature of experience and the Latin American literature of the reader. I track the emergence of these systems: in the United States, through the mid-nineteenth-century “American Renaissance,” the late nineteenth-century “age of realism,” the interwar “modernist” period, and the “postmodern” era of the second half of the century; in Latin America, through the modernismo of the turn of the twentieth century, the vanguardia movement of the 1920s and early 1930s, and the boom decades of the 1960s and 1970s.
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