Anxieties of Experience The Literatures of the Americas from Whitman to Bolaņo

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2018-01-05
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Anxieties of Experience: The Literatures of the Americas from Whitman to Bolaņo offers a new interpretation of US and Latin American literature from the nineteenth century to the present. Revisiting longstanding debates in the hemisphere about whether the source of authority for New World literature derives from an author's first-hand contact with American places and peoples or from a creative (mis)reading of existing traditions, the book charts a widening gap in how modern US and Latin American writers defined their literary authority. In the process, it traces the development of two distinct literary strains in the Americas: the "US literature of experience" and the "Latin American literature of the reader." Reinterpreting a range of canonical works from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass to Roberto Bolaņo's 2666, Anxieties of Experience shows how this hemispheric literary divide fueled a series of anxieties, misunderstandings, and "misencounters" between US and Latin American authors. In the wake of recent calls to rethink the "common grounds" approach to literature across the Americas, the book advocates a comparative approach that highlights the distinct logics of production and legitimation in the US and Latin American literary fields. Anxieties of Experience closes by exploring the convergence of the literature of experience and the literature of the reader in the first decades of the twenty-first century, arguing that the post-Bolaņo moment has produced the strongest signs of a truly reciprocal literature of the Americas in more than a hundred years.

Author Biography

Jeffrey Lawrence is Assistant Professor of English at Rutgers-New Brunswick.

Table of Contents


Part I: Hemispheric Literary Divides
Chapter 1: Cultural Divergence: The US Literature of Experience and the Latin American Literature of the Reader
Chapter 2: An Inter-American Episode: Jorge Luis Borges, Waldo Frank, and the Battle for Whitman's America
Chapter 3 Uncommon Grounds: The Representation of History in Absalom, Absalom!, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Song of Solomon

Part II: The Literary Fields of the Americas
Chapter 4: Full Immersion: Modernist Aesthetics and the US Literature of Experience
Chapter 5 Voracious Readers: The Latin American Lettered City and the US Literature of Experience


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