"Latin America’s 'Chiaroscuro' Byron" explores the ways in which Latin America and English Romanticism clashed and overlapped during the nineteenth century in their portrayals of Lord Byron. Offering a glimpse into the fervid Byromania spreading among young intellectuals in the Southern Cone, this essay traces how Byronic figures were adopted in Spanish and Portuguese by the novelist José Mármol and by the Brazilian poet Manuel Antônio Álvarez de Azevedo. Ultimately, Byron’s image was viewed in Latin America through a diversifying chiaroscuro effect, in which Argentina’s Byron was luminous and ethereal, but Brazil’s Byron was dark and brooding. But this influence exerted by Byron was not unidirectional. The essay concludes by suggesting ways in which Simón Bólivar served as an inspiration for Lord Byron, modeling both literary freedom and political independence.
This essay presents a study of the Spanish writer Luis Cernuda and his poetic appropriation of the English Romantic aesthetic and sensibility. A member of the Generation of '27, Cernuda left Madrid in 1938 to deliver lectures at Oxford and Cambridge, traveling to Glasgow, Cambridge, London, and the United States before finally settling in Mexico. As an exile in Scotland and England, Cernuda encounters Romanticism in the midst of the Modernist rejection of the era, negotiating questions of poetical ethics and pertinence during an era of modern warfare. Reading A Defence of Poetry and echoing Shelley a century later, he asks, “What is a poet?” “Poetry is not only useful,” Cernuda decides, “but also has certain social effects.” This essay offers an encompassing view of how Cernuda achieved a sense of unity in his own poetics, negotiating an English tradition with a Spanish one, while balancing his Romantic interests against contemporary Modernist pressures.
It is not common to associate Latin America with studies of English Romanticism. However, authors from Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo to Julio Cortázar have innovatively transformed the works of the British Romantics through purposeful misreadings and adaptations, forging links of aesthetic closeness and poetic familiarity that compensate for their chronological and geographical separation. The transformations of Byron, Shelley, and Keats by Hispanophone and Lusophone writers are marked by authority, whimsy, and adventure, often evoking a sense of playful irreverence. Afterlives from these perspectives help to decenter the Anglophone pillars of Romanticist study, helping to mitigate the exclusivity of a field that centers an entire literary and cultural universe within a span of fifty years on the British Isles. In essays by Stephen and Jordan Hart, Juan Jesús Payan, Omar Miranda, Gabriel Insausti, Marco Ramírez Rojas, and Olivia Loksing Moy, one common strand that emerges is how these authors confront questions of cultural marginality and belatedness. The various transformations of the major British Romantic poets studied in these contributions conjure up new figures with which to populate our familiar canon: an alternately dour or ethereal Byron (Mármol / Antônio Álvares de Azevedo); a more pragmatic Shelley (Cernuda); an exuberant and virile Keats (Cortázar).
This essay explores the often unfaithful translations of Byron’s The Giaour into Spanish, especially in light of their prosification and importation across genres. Focusing on an adaptation by the Argentine writer and politician Martín Zapata, it contextualizes this afterlife within Argentine intellectual and political tensions. Zapata was the first to provide a direct adaptation from the original text, and also the only adaptor to truly preserve the vampiric elements of the plot. When read through a postcolonial and anti-orientalist lens, The Giaour shows Zapata challenging the binary categorizations of good/evil, East/West, and modernity/backwardness in the context of nineteenth-century Argentina.
This comparative essay focuses on the afterlife of Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound (1820) in the Spanish-American tradition. It begins with an overview of the work’s reception history in Hispanophone culture, including its appeal as a revolutionary manifesto in Spanish-American journalism and literature. The essay then unpacks the Shelleyan inspiration and thematic echoes in The Lost Steps [Los pasos perdidos] (1950), a well-known classic by the Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier.
This essay focuses on Keats’s reception and critical influence through the eyes of Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar, the two giants of Argentine letters. Both writers depicted and identified Keats as a misunderstood figure that needed to be rescued by their intervention. They seek to integrate Keats as a member of their own intellectual community, regarding him “not as a master but as a comrade-in-arms.” Cortázar and Borges’s reading of Keats as a contemporary challenges the colonial view of Latin American literary creations as subsidiary of the European tradition, renegotiating transatlantic dynamics of colonial cultural interactions. The essay traces the theme of Negative Capability in Borges’s 1952 essay "Keats’s Nightingale," and the chameleon figure in Julio Cortázar’s Imagen de John Keats.
This essay explores the generic hybridity and transtemporality of Imagen de John Keats, Julio Cortázar’s literary biography from the 1950s. An amphibious text that oscillates between a rigorous work of criticism and a playful work of fiction, it follows two lines of national influence: the Latin American surrealist short story and Romantic poetry. Moreover, in staging a sense of timeless contemporaneity by strategically merging literary-historical events, the book brings together Keats, Shelley, and Hunt with Cortázar’s own circle of Argentine friends and intellectuals. This rippling of chronologies makes it possible for Cortázar to personally inhabit a Romantic universality, rendering Keats accessible to the Latin American “everyman.”
Taking a Step, Learning from Below, and Imagining Planetarity in Romanticism: On Poems for the Millennium, Volume Three
This essay distills the experience of teaching an upper-division English course entitled "An Introduction to Global Romanticisms." This class focused on one text over the course of the semester – Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey Robinson’s experimental anthology Poems for the Millennium Volume 3: The University of California Book of Romantic & Postromantic Poetry. This collection attempts to construct a truly global Romantic tradition. In addition to the standard writers of the European Romantic canon, North and South American, Scandinavian, Eastern European, and Asian authors are included here as well. The broad scope of the anthology presents exciting opportunities and challenges. This essay assesses the potential of this volume to reform our teaching of and scholarship about Romanticism, and it briefly articulates a thesis about the “cosmic” dimension of literary texts, which can possibly provide an organizing rubric for engaging with the expansive richness of global Romanticism once conventional formalist and historicist methods are shown to be inadequate for managing its complexity.
"Translating Revolution into Spanish: British Romanticism and the Spanish-Speaking World" offers ways of teaching British Romanticism through the lens of human rights. The proposed course covers the pamphlet wars of the 1790s in Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindications of the Rights of Woman. Students also consider abolitionist literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Hannah More’s "Slavery, A Poem," and Leonora Sansay’s Secret History; or, The Horrors of St. Domingo. The goal of this approach is to address the cultural amnesia regarding the history of slavery and enslaved peoples, and to broaden students’ understanding of the era’s independence movements by introducing historical documents from Latin and South America.
Syllabus for Introduction to Global Romanticisms
Originating in the late-18th century and flowering in the 19th, Romanticism was a multi-faceted, complex literary movement that radically altered the way language expresses the human condition. Reacting against a