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).
Latin American Afterlives of the British Romantics
Foste poeta, Byron! A onda uivandoEmbalou-te o cismar—e ao som dos ventosDas selváticas fibras de tua harpaExalou-se o rugir entre lamentos!— Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo, "Invocacão"
Los poetas son los legisladores desapercibidios del mundo.
— Percy Bysshe Shelley, qtd. by Luis Cernuda
…Oh sucesivoy arrebatado Keats, que el tiempo ciega,el alto ruiseñor y la urna griegaserán tu eternidad, oh fugitivo.— Jorge Luis Borges, "A John Keats"
1. In 1886, Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo composed an invocation to Byron in Portuguese, posing the fashionable English lord as his muse. Byromania had spread amongst the literary coteries of Brazil, where, “at the University of São Paolo, everyone wanted to be like Byron” (Stephen and Jordan Hart, "Latin America’s Byron"). In the 1940s, while in exile in Cambridge during the Spanish Civil War, Luis Cernuda looked to Percy Shelley’s A Defence of Poetry (1840) to better understand his own role in society as a poet, questioning how he might alleviate the suffering of man in the practical world. In 1972, Jorge Luis Borges sang to Keats in a sonnet invoking his Grecian urn, echoing the song of the nightingale from Keats’s 1819 ode.
2. It is not common to associate Latin America with studies of English Romanticism. Despite the long and influential relations between the British Empire and the countries of South and Central America, it is surprising that instead of multiple cultural bridges, there appear only a few scattered paths linking Romantic writers to the Latin American intellectual tradition. England not only played a fundamental role in the independence of countries like Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Argentina, but also exerted a fundamental influence in the process of industrialization and modernization throughout the continent, including certain territories in Brazil. Throughout the nineteenth century, railroads in Latin America were built by British companies, industries were created under the supervision and much to the profit of English investors, and market networks were developed to facilitate the circulation of capital across the Atlantic. Similarly, waves of immigration brought considerable numbers of British citizens to settle in major developing cities, as well as in rural areas that needed to be industrially developed. How is it possible, then, that this tremendous economic, social, and political impact was not readily reflected in the Luso-Hispanic literary productions of the time?
3. In this volume, we examine a selection of prominent writers and works framed within the lines of British-Luso-Hispanic dialogues. In the essays that follow, Romanticist and Hispanophone scholars trace the reception of the British Romantics in Latin America and Spain through circulation, translation, and adaptation. Each of these studies highlights major obstacles that have historically impeded the transmission of English Romantic works into a language that is, for historical and geographic reasons, a very important neighbor. In many cases, the research offered by the scholars here exposes a surprising dearth in transmission—a paucity of references, or the surprisingly late date of published translations. They also challenge the assumption that Latin American nations would automatically identify with Romantic revolutionary ideals, superimposing these upon their own political contexts and paving the way for plentiful adaptations. Hispanophone authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries do not necessarily adopt a tone of identification with English cultural or political paradigms, but, rather, engage in critical readings and creative adaptations. Despite these rich connections, the historical trajectory for Latin American afterlives of the English Romantics is one of surprising scarcity and belatedness. This collection aims to recuperate some of the research, long overdue, along this line of transatlantic and translinguistic conversation.
4. Comparative Romanticist studies have long privileged the languages of German, French, and Italian. British Romanticism’s indebtedness to German philosophy, literature, and art has yielded a dominant stronghold within the field; the historical impetus of the French Revolution has made French an essential area for serious comparativist work; while Shelley’s and Keats’s years in Rome have established a strong Italian connection.  Yet the critical history of the Romantics’ reception in Spanish, both in Europe and in Latin America, has not garnered serious critical attention until the last decade. Gabriel Insausti attributes this partly to the fact that “Spanish Romanticism had historically been very weak and had not left behind any noteworthy poet,” throwing Spanish writers into a condition of a “sort of late-yielding fruit” ("Toward Unity"). This volume investigates the afterlives of British Romantic poets in the Hispanophone world with an emphasis on Latin American authors. Reframing the outdated model of a European center and a New World periphery, we ask the following questions: To what extent has translation shaped or impeded the dissemination of otherwise global Romantic texts throughout countries like Argentina, Cuba, Colombia, and Venezuela? How do Latin American reinterpretations of Romantic texts assume or elide the colonial burdens of influence from English works, as compared to those imposed by continental Spanish texts? How do Latin American writers negotiate their position in relation to a European literary and cultural canon? And in what ways do these Anglo-Latino interactions differ from those recently explored in transatlantic studies, of North America, the West Indies and the Black Atlantic?
5. Major critical advances tracing Hispanophone connections to British Romanticism have been spearheaded by Joselyn Almeida-Beveridge, whose Reimagining the Transatlantic, 1780–1890 (Ashgate 2011) identifies the pan-Atlantic as an integral force in Britain during the Age of the Revolutions. The pan-Atlantic, a public sphere of exchange, prominently shaped the shared political ideals of Britain, Africa, and the non-Anglophone Americas in mutual ways, with Spain and Latin American forces influencing English Romantic ideals of humanity, nation, and freedom. Almeida-Beveridge’s 2010 collection of essays, Romanticism and the Anglo-Hispanic Imaginary, reveals the continued presence of South and Central American culture within the British canon and the English literary imagination, particularly in the context of the Peninsular War and the Wars of Latin American Independence. These studies chart the dialogues of Latin American and Spanish intellectuals that took place in British territory during the crucial years of Latin American independence movements.  In particular, they trace the journeys of instrumental figures, including anti-colonial fighters like Thomas Cochrane, whose active revolutionary role left an impact on Chile, Peru, Brazil, and Colombia (Fulford, "El diablo and El Ángel del Cielo"). Anglo-Hispanic Horizons, a digital network project based at UCLA, brings together transnational scholarship on British, American, and Spanish literature and culture from the 1780s to 1840s in an accessible online platform. Diego Saglia and Ian Haywood’s most recent collection, Spain in British Romanticism: 1800-1840 (Palgrave 2018), further explores the impact of the Peninsular War on Romantic British writings, with studies tracing the valorization of Spain within the English cultural imagination. These essays map the influence of exilic figures like Joseph Blanco White and Valentín de Llanos, also locating representations of Spain within specific literary traditions, including Gothic fiction and Romantic women’s writing. 
6. This volume traces such influences but in the opposite direction, often working through lines of transmission in Spain but focusing primarily on authors from Latin America. We explore how Hispanophone writers received, reworked, and incorporated the works of the English poets into their own literary traditions. Often, these authors faced a linguistic barrier, immersing themselves in British literature while improving their English language skills through work as translators. The essays we have included analyze how Anglophone Romantic sources have been read, questioned, and adapted to their own local realities. Building upon Almeida-Beveridge’s and Saglia and Haywood’s collections that explore eighteenth- and nineteenth-century exchanges, we investigate how these interactions extend through the twentieth century and recalibrate the cultural balance between the Hispanic and the Anglophone spheres.
7. Featuring paired essays on Byron, Shelley, and Keats, we trace afterlives anchored around the three major second-generation poets. Their points of connection with the Luso-Hispanic world are prominent writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries whose intellectual curiosity and cosmopolitanism bridge the British Isles with Central and South America, as well as with Spain. The following studies compose a collection of echoes, reflections, and translations of the English Romantics in Spanish and Portuguese. The works of José Marmol, Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo, Martín Zapata, Luis Cernuda, Alejo Carpentier, Jorge Luis Borges, and Julio Cortázar constitute the tiles of this multicolored mosaic.
8. Given the historical asymmetry of the political and historical relations between Spain, Latin America, and the British Empire, one common strand that emerges among the articles is how these authors confront questions of cultural marginality and belatedness. Contrary to the assumptions of most Anglophone readers, the theme of marginality in the Latin American afterlives of English Romantic writers is not necessarily one of Eurocentric exclusion or rejection. The Latin American works studied in these essays are defined neither by imitative idolatry nor a sense of colonial anxiety. On the contrary, they present different strategies of cultural negotiation that allow them to contest assumptions of subordination or respectful deference. The transformations of Byron, Shelley, and Keats by Hispanophone authors are marked by authority, whimsy, and adventure, often evoking a sense of playful irreverence. These authors innovatively transform the works of their predecessors through purposeful misreadings and adaptations, forging links of aesthetic closeness and poetic familiarity that compensate for their chronological separation. Major figures like Borges, Cortázar, and Carpentier also function as savvy critics of the English Romantic tradition; they conscientiously position their writings within two literary traditions with a full understanding of their historical, national, and generic repercussions. 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. 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).
9. Our overdue recognition of the Latin-American reception of English Romantics comes at a timely moment, particularly within the current political climate of the United States, where the rhetoric is increasingly one of insular nationalism and discrimination toward our Spanish-speaking neighbors. The imperative to “speak English!” and only English in schools and public spaces runs counter to the Romantic spirit of openness, imagination, and respect for the rights of the individual. With this volume, we wish to demonstrate the obvious: that the ability to work in neighboring languages only enriches our research in the academy and injects life into our Anglophone canon. Moreover, the work we value and make visible through publications and teaching should recognize too the fundamental role that Latin American, including Brazilian, authors played in the global production of Romantic literary legacies. This rings especially true when an increasingly diverse professoriate and graduate cohorts include many talented bilingual scholars of Latin American descent. Beginning with the content of our research, we envision an academia in which fluency in Spanish is viewed as an asset in comparative Romantic studies on an equal plane with proficiency in German, French, and Italian.
10. While developments in World Literature studies have called for a shift away from an assumed Anglocentrism, made evident in manifestos such as Aamar Mufti’s Forget English!, we suggest that these sentiments apply, ever so counterintuitively, to the field of British Romantic studies. To propose that English Romanticists might turn away from English is not an unfounded proposition. As C.C. Wharram asked in his 2014 preface, "Objects of Translation(s)," “Why do we decide in advance that ‘British’ necessarily entails the elimination of all voices not originating in British and in English?” Suh-Reen Han’s Romantic Circles Praxis volume on English Romanticism in East Asia answers this call, extending Romantic studies to a global scale, showcasing the skills of bilingual scholars who engage deeply in historical study and close readings in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. These essays help studies in “foreign” languages find a home under the aegis of our discipline. Special issues of Studies in Romanticism and Romantic Circles Praxis on the Black Atlantic and Black Romanticism, as well as the European Romantic Review issue on the "Literature of Abolition," do the important postcolonial work of pushing British Romanticism into regions that force recognition of the most uncomfortable corners of our literary tradition (Youngquist and Pace; Youngquist and Botkin; Chander and Matthew). This courageous scholarship transcends geographic, national, and racial borders with an ear bent towards historical justice. It demonstrates that Romantic studies need not remain divorced from efforts in modernist, Americanist, and medieval literary studies to resist an exclusive and exclusionary Anglocentric impetus—that Romanticism’s privileging of the Big Six need not preclude global scholarship. We now raise this challenge to scholars who might combine the transatlantic and the translingual, encouraging multilingual researchers who can help locate the legacy of Romanticism today in what used to be unforeseen pockets of the globe. This collection serves as an invitation for further research into Latin American afterlives of the Romantic writers, promoting the scholarship of yet undiscovered translations, adaptations, and responses that will continue to expand the transatlantic canon.
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11. The first essay of the volume begins broadly and on a celebratory note, exploring ideas of Romantic celebrity and the international circulation of personality in the southern hemisphere. In "Latin America’s Byron," Stephen and Jordan Hart explore ways in which Latin America and English Romanticism “clashed and overlapped during the nineteenth century” in their portrayals of Lord Byron. They trace how Byronic figures were adopted in Spanish and Portuguese by the novelist José Mármol, who recontextualized the character of Manfred in an Argentine setting, and by the Brazilian poet Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo, who projects a Don Juan figure in his Portuguese poems. This study offers a glimpse into the fervid Byromania spreading amongst young intellectuals in the Southern Cone. Hart and Hart propose that Byron’s image was ultimately viewed in Latin America through a diversifying chiaroscuro effect, in which Argentina’s Byron was “luminous and ethereal,” while Brazil’s Byron was “dark and brooding.” But this influence exerted by Byron was not unidirectional. Indeed, the essay concludes by suggesting ways in which Simón Bólivar served as an inspiration for Lord Byron, modeling both literary freedom and political independence.
12. We continue tracing Byron’s afterlives with a translation study by Juan Jesús Payán, who bypasses the more obvious Hispanic connections of Don Juan to focus on the lingering imprint of Byron’s Gothic valences instead. "Translative Vampires: Martín Zapata and the Early Fate of The Giaour" explores the often unfaithful translations of Byron’s The Giaour into Spanish, especially in light of their prosification and importation across genres. Focusing on a short narrative adaptation by the Argentine writer and politician Martín Zapata, Payán shows how the very choice of The Giaour as his source material, in the context of Argentine intellectual and political tensions, was a daring statement unto itself. Comparing this to previous renderings of Byron’s works into the Spanish language—both in Spain and in Latin America—Payán highlights the exceptionality of Zapata’s version, pointing out that the Argentine was the first to provide a direct adaptation from the original text, and also the only one to truly preserve the vampiric elements of the plot. Performing a political reading, Payán understands Zapata’s translation as an element of disruption that challenges the divisions between “Civilization” and “Barbarism” upheld by his contemporary, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. Complicating the Orientalist paradigm because it “focalizes through the perspective of the traditional Other,” El Giaur (sic) shows Zapata challenging the binary categorizations of good/evil, East/West, and modernity/backwardness in the context of nineteenth-century Argentina.
13. We move from translation to adaptation in Omar F. Miranda’s "Prometeo Desencadenado: The Translation of Percy Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound in the Spanish-American Tradition." This essay unpacks the Shelleyan inspiration and thematic echoes in a well-known classic by the Cuban novelist, Alejo Carpentier. In his reevaluation of Los pasos perdidos, Miranda traces the Hispanophone afterlife of one of Shelley’s more difficult works. Revivified in the postmodern imagination of Carpentier, the drama of Prometheus Unbound is recast in New York City, Caracas, and the South American jungle, combining elements of mystical settings, lyric, dramatic style, and philosophic attempts at “reversing human error.” This novel, written in Venezuela in 1950 and considered a precursor to magical realism, is, Miranda argues, “perhaps one of the most earnest and profound engagements with Shelley’s text since the drama’s publication in the early nineteenth century.” This statement is supported by the relative dearth of Spanish-language receptions of Prometheus Unbound, in both Spain and Latin America, which for nearly two centuries has only seen partial translations and even fewer adaptations. Miranda contextualizes his analysis of Los pasos perdidos by turning to an article from 1922 in the radical Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, which commemorates the centenary of Shelley’s death. This column, written by Edouard Herriot, who eventually became prime minister of France, praises Prometheus Unbound and venerates Shelley for his “current” and “eternal” poetic ideals. Besides these two homages by Herriot and Carpentier, Latin American afterlives of this closet drama are sparse. Adding to the fact that Prometheus Unbound was not translated in full into Spanish until 1994, Miranda’s research reaffirms the surprising belatedness of the Hispanophone reception of Shelley’s text.
14. In the fourth essay of this volume, "Toward Unity: Cernuda and English Romanticism," Gabriel Insausti presents a capacious 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 during the Spanish Civil War to deliver lectures at Oxford and Cambridge; he traveled to Glasgow, Cambridge, and London through 1947; and finally settled in Mexico, never to return to Spain. As an exile in Scotland and England, his writing, criticism, and translations felt the influence of Shakespeare, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Browning, and Eliot. In his essay, Insausti pinpoints a Cernudian reading of Romanticism that raises problems unique to his geographical positioning and literary historical moment: The Spanish poet encounters Romanticism in the midst of the Modernist rejection of the era, negotiating questions of poetry’s ethical value and pertinence during an era of modern warfare. Reading A Defence of Poetry and echoing Shelley a century later, Cernuda asks, “What is a poet?” “Poetry is not only useful,” he decides, “but also has certain social effects.” A poet and translator himself, Insausti 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.
15. Our volume ends with two contributions featuring the afterlife of John Keats in Latin America. Marco Ramírez Rojas focuses on the poet’s reception and critical influence through the eyes of Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar, two great giants of Argentine letters. In "Keatsians in Argentina: Borges’s Nightingale and Cortázar’s Chameleon," Ramírez argues that both writers depicted and identified Keats as a misunderstood figure who needed to be rescued by their intervention. In this vein, 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.” This focus on Argentina as a major site of literary transmission for Keats is historically interesting, considering the high rates of European immigration to the country in the nineteenth century and the accompanying nostalgia for British literature, encouraged by a “sort of pro-British snobbery” that pervaded Buenos Aires high society. Ramírez’s reading of Borges’s 1952 essay "Keats’s Nightingale" stages, through a philosophical defense of Keats, a petition for appropriating Keats into a Latin American space that is presented as more suitable for understanding the Romantic poet. The second half of this essay explores the lengthy creative treatise titled Imagen de John Keats by Cortázar, in which Ramírez theorizes the role of the biographer as a chameleon figure. Through his deep identification and sense of camaraderie with Keats, Cortázar overlaps temporalities with the poet and meets him in a shared “Latin American time” with strong political implications. Cortázar’s connection to Keats emulates the ideas of Negative Capability and the chameleon figure, mirroring a state of poetic annihilation and self-identification.
16. The final essay of the collection, by Olivia Loksing Moy, offers a closer look at Imagen de John Keats, Cortázar’s literary biography from the 1950s. "To Carry Keats in Your Pocket: Julio Cortázar’s Everyman Poet" explores the amphibious nature of a book that oscillates between a rigorous work of criticism and a playful work of fiction that defies all traditional classifications. Borrowing from Cortázar’s short fiction, Moy uses the models of playing hopscotch and blowing up photos to explain the work of a poet-critic that has been rendered inaccessible to scholarship due to two defining characteristics: its transtemporality and generic hybridity. It is her contention that the “merging of time and epochs” which brings Keats, Shelley, and Hunt together with Cortázar’s own circle of Argentine intellectuals is a clever strategy, proposing a defiant sense of timeless contemporaneity. Building upon the two models of playing “hopscotch” and “blow-up,” drawn from the titles of two of Cortázar’s most acclaimed works, Moy shows how the narrative of Imagen de John Keats skips around from year to year, while also lingering and zooming in on key moments for biographical exegesis. This rippling of chronologies makes it possible for the biographer to stage a direct dialogue with Keats and to personally inhabit a Romantic universality, rendering the poet accessible to the Latin American “everyman.” Stylistically and structurally, Imagen de John Keats also constitutes a novelty. Its “unprecedented merging of fictional and non-fiction genres” includes the dense intertwining of poetic devices, passages of free association and automatic writing, and an overarching narrative structure. For Moy, the textual complexity of this biography reflects a generic hybridity that draws from two lines of national influence: Romantic poetry and the Latin American surrealist short story. Cortázar consciously combines these two traditions without any anxiety of influence. As he both showed and stated, Latin American literature, though arriving a bit late, could “burst onto the literary scene” and enter modernity “without all the baggage” of European literature (Literature Class 31). By clarifying these aspects of transtemporality and generic hybridity, Moy clears the path for further investigations of Imagen. Previously unavailable in English translation, excerpts of Imagen de John Keats have now been published as a volume of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. Julio y John, caminando y conversando: Selections from Imagen de John Keats (2019) was edited and translated by Moy and Rojas, who are completing a full critical translation of the text.
17. Each of the essays in this volume present a reworking of Bloomian influence that has traditionally guided landmark transatlantic studies, such as Robert Weisbuch’s Atlantic Double-Cross. Earlier models of influence theory unwittingly undergird binaries of an original and inferior copy, which in the context of artists working across lines of race and nation can also reinforce racist rationales of canonicity. These essays all consider binaries, but ultimately explode or complicate them: Hart and Hart’s engagement of light and dark, or chiaroscuro; Payán’s with “Civilization and Barbarism”; Miranda’s with notions of the city and jungle; Insausti’s with la realidad y el deseo; Ramírez’s with center and periphery; and Moy’s with past and present, fiction and nonfiction. 
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———. Romanticism and the Anglo-Hispanic Imaginary. Rodopi, 2010.
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Chander, Manu Samriti and Patricia A. Matthew, editors. "Abolitionist Interruptions: Romanticism, Slavery, and Genre," European Romantic Review vol. 29, no. 4, 2018, pp. 431–556.
Cortázar, Julio. Literature Class: Berkeley 1980. New Directions, 2013.
Fulford, Tim. "El Diablo and El Ángel del Cielo: Thomas and Kitty Cochrane and the Romanticization of Latin America." Almeida-Beveridge, Romanticism and the Anglo-Hispanic Imaginary, pp.81–108.
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Insausti, Gabriel. "Toward Unity: Cernuda and English Romanticism.”" Latin American Afterlives, edited by Olivia Loksing Moy and Marco Ramírez Rojas, Praxis Volume, Romantic Circles, 2018, romantic-circles.org/praxis/latinam/praxis.2020.latinam.insausti.html
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Wharram, C.C. "Objects of Translation(s)." Translation Theory/Pedagogical Practice: Teaching Romantic Translation(s), edited by C.C. Wharram, Pedagogies Commons Volume, Romantic Circles, July 2014, romantic-circles.org/pedagogies/commons/translation/commons.2014.translation.wharram_intro.html
Youngquist, Paul and Frances Botkin, editors. Circulations: Romanticism and the Black Atlantic, Praxis Volume, Romantic Circles, October 2011, romantic-circles.org/praxis/circulations/index.html
Youngquist, Paul and Joel Pace, editors. Black Romanticism, Studies in Romanticism, vol. 56, no. 1, 2017, pp. 3–123.
The 2016 Romantic Circles Praxis volume on English Romanticism in East Asia, edited by Suh-Reen Han, explores the Romantics’ reception in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, while the 2014 Romantic Circles Pedagogies Commons volume on Translation Theory/Pedagogical Practices, edited by C.C. Wharram, explores comparativist studies in German, Hebrew, French, and Japanese. But of the major European languages, Spanish has received the least critical attention in reception studies. BACK
The essays in this volume draw on comparable examples of exile (Cernuda) and Gothic writing (Zapata), in which the transmission to Latin America often goes through Spain. See Gabriel Insausti, "Toward Unity: Cernuda and English Romanticism" and Juan Jesús Payán, "Translative Vampires: Martín Zapata and the Early Fate of the Giaour." BACK