It is commonly assumed that the United States and Latin America, culturally so different, move artistically to very different rhythms. Also common is the assumption that, with rare exception, the literary figures on one side of the global North/South divide have had little interest in the work of their counterparts. With Mutual Impressions Ilan Stavans dispels these notions by showing how solid the bridges between writers and across borders have been, at least since the early days of this century, and how crucial they are likely to become as we enter the next millennium.
Divided into symmetrical halves—South reading North and North reading South—the book presents essays by leading novelists, poets, and other writers that focus on the work of another literary figure from across the divide. Borges, for example, finds in Hawthorne the perfect precursor to his own interest in allegories; Katherine Anne Porter examines José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi as a rascal whose picaresque views of life in The Itching Parrot served to launch the Latin American novel; Cortázar’s study of the plots and style of Poe shows an affinity that left an indelible mark on the Argentine’s short fiction; Susan Sontag views Machado de Assis as the ultimate mirror, a proto–postmodernist.
With other essays by Thomas Pynchon, William H. Gass, John Updike, Gabriel García Márquez, Alejo Carpentier, John Barth, Robert Coover, Pedro Henríquez Ureña, Grace Paley, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Mark Strand, among others, Mutual Impressions offers a remarkable view of the connections that comprise a literary tradition of the Americas. It is a book that will surprise and enliven its readers as it informs and awakens in them a sense of wonder.
Contributors. John Barth, José Bianco, Robert Bly, Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Hiber Conteris, Robert Coover, Julio Cortázar, Ezequiel Martínez Estrada, Waldo Frank, Carlos Fuentes, William H. Gass, Nicolás Guillén, William Kennedy, Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, José Martí, Pablo Neruda, Victoria Ocampo, Juan Carlos Onetti, Grace Paley, Octavio Paz, Katherine Anne Porter, Thomas Pynchon, Kenneth Rexroth, Antonio Benítez Rojo, Barbara Probst Solomon, Susan Sontag, Ilan Stavans, Mark Strand, John Updike, Pedro Henríque Ureña, Derek Walcott, Paul West