Spring break is here for us, and for me in particular that means a window of time has opened up that has let me return to book-project work in earnest, if only for a little while. (In case you are wondering about how the recent posts on Edna Ferber’s Show Boat fit in, I had already written much of that material and thought that re-engaging with it might shake some new ideas loose, which it did. At least some of that work will find its way into the book.) So far this weekend, I have made a substantive content/organizational decision, and I will be doing some additional writing for a chapter that’s about ready to go but still feels thin.
In looking ahead to the next chapter to be blocked out, I decided that what I had originally planned (a discussion of Garcilaso de la Vega “El Inca,” Faulkner’s Light in August, Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude, casta paintings from Mexico, and the Virgin of Guadalupe) would be too unwieldy. So for the moment it has become two chapters: Faulkner and Paz will be in the new chapter, along with discussions of other works whose subject is people of indeterminate ethnicity and how their presence destabilizes social and political orders predicated upon rather clearly demarcated ethnic boundaries. Now, I hope, everything will have some space to breathe.
The additional writing will appear in a chapter whose central figures are Cabeza de Vaca and Natty Bumppo as he appears in Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. Each figure, his thinking and deeply-held beliefs transformed by his long sojourn among indigenous peoples, struggles to find language to make his thought understood to his audience. The rest of the chapter takes up discussions of other writers who through various experiments with language seek to convey something of the experience of living in this hemisphere. The additions will be discussions of José Martí’s essay “Our America,” José Carlos Mariátegui’s arguments for shaping Marxist theory to conform to the historical and economic realities of this hemisphere, and, I hope, something about liberation theology.
Below the fold, the curious can find rather chatty discussions of the chapters as I presently have them imagined. Any comments/advice/warnings would be most welcome.