The Uses of Failure in Mexican Literature and Identity

Paperback | January 1, 2008

byJohn A. Ochoa

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While the concept of defeat in the Mexican literary canon is frequently acknowledged, it has rarely been explored in the fullness of the psychological and religious contexts that define this aspect of "mexicanidad." Going beyond the simple narrative of self-defeat, The Uses of Failure in Mexican Literature and Identity presents a model of failure as a source of knowledge and renewed self-awareness.

Studying the relationship between national identity and failure, John Ochoa revisits the foundational texts of Mexican intellectual and literary history, the "national monuments," and offers a new vision of the pivotal events that echo throughout Mexican aesthetics and politics. The Uses of Failure in Mexican Literature and Identity encompasses five centuries of thought, including the works of the Conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo, whose sixteenth-century True History of the Conquest of New Spain formed Spanish-speaking Mexico's early self-perceptions; José Vasconcelos, the essayist and politician who helped rebuild the nation after the Revolution of 1910; and the contemporary novelist Carlos Fuentes.

A fascinating study of a nation's volatile journey towards a sense of self, The Uses of Failure elegantly weaves ethical issues, the philosophical implications of language, and a sociocritical examination of Latin American writing for a sparkling addition to the dialogue on global literature.

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While the concept of defeat in the Mexican literary canon is frequently acknowledged, it has rarely been explored in the fullness of the psychological and religious contexts that define this aspect of "mexicanidad." Going beyond the simple narrative of self-defeat, The Uses of Failure in Mexican Literature and Identity presents a model...

John A. Ochoa is Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of California, Riverside.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:January 1, 2008Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292719531

ISBN - 13:9780292719538

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction. The Broken Monument, or Failure as a Source of KnowledgePart 1. The Conquest: "The Paper Warrior" at the SourceChapter 1. Education and Entropy in Bernal Díaz del Castillo's War to Stop TimePart 2. Visions of a New NationChapter 2. Compromised Free Markets in El Periquillo Sarniento: Teachers, Albureros, and Other ShoutersChapter 3. Alexander von Humboldt's Work on Mexico, Cultural Allegory, and the Limits of VisionPart 3. The Revolution of 1910Chapter 4. José Vasconcelos and the Necessities of FailurePart 4. At the Limits: The 1960s and the BorderChapter 5. The Threats of Collapse in Cambio de piel (or Fuentes the Frail)Chapter 6. Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Bordering on Madness and Performing LiminalityConclusion. General Santa Anna's Leg and Other FailingsNotesWorks CitedIndex