08 July 2010

Mexican literature

That there is a felt need for critics to deal with multilingual literature is seen in such side remarks as those of Karen Grimwade in a note to her 2009 translation of "La litterature mexicaine au carrefour de trois cultures" by Alain Nicolas:  "I did quite a bit of research into contemporary Mexican literature and this seemed to suggest that writers often play with mixing Spanish, English and Mexican languages in their work."

I think that most literature readers today realize that there is a lot of language mixing going on in contemporary texts, but they don't quite know how to deal with this mixing.  Many readers, I suspect, just gloss over the "foreign" words, thinking that the context will eventually tell them what those words mean.  These readers lose the literariness of the text, which deliberately appropriates "foreign" cultures into the culture of the writer and the readers.  Just like in the good old days when New Critics made readers "understand" (as Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren put it in their textbook series of Understanding Poetry, Understanding Fiction, and Understanding Drama) what seemed to be inscrutable literary masterpieces, multilingual literary critics today have an obligation to help the ordinary reader appreciate the skill and the beauty of mixed-language and even apparently monolingual texts.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for linking this blog to Karen Grimwade's translation. Interesting account that mirrors the Spanish Conquest of the Philippines launched by ships coming from Acapulco.