Cervantine Satire and Folk Syncretism in Paulo De Carvalho-Neto’s Latin-american Novel mi TÍo Atahualpa

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This work is a critical examination of pre-testimonial engaged writing in late twentieth century Latin America that has been long overdue, not only to help flesh out the literary history of the region, but to help historicize what came after. As a Cervantine satire of indigenismo, Paulo de Carvalho-Neto’s 1972 novel offers an excellent start. As demonstrated in the first section of this study, not only is Mi tío Atahualpa a capacious and critical overview of a genre that dominated the Andes for decades, the novel is also a virtual recapitulation of Latin American literary history, incorporating genres that range from the crónica and folktale through social and magical realisms, and even certain elements of the nueva narrativa. Drawing on a background in the discipline of folklore studies as well as Latin American literature, the second part of this study examines the role of orality and folk syncretism in Mi tío Atahualpa, as a means of inverting the indigenista norms of blanco as observer and indio as object of observation. A final section compares Carvalho-Neto’s literary responses to the cultural challenges of his time with those of two contemporary novelists who were also responding to the unfinished business of indigenismo, José María Arguedas and Manuel Scorza; and with the limit-case of the nueva narrativa, Julio Cortázar’s Rayuela. As a narrative critique, Carvalho-Neto’s novel sheds light not only on indigenismo, but also on the crisis faced by Latin American narrative in the period of transition that followed the Boom.


"This study is a well-written and well-documented interpretation of the parodic nature of this overlooked, yet important, novel ... This study also explores the myths surrounding the figure of Atahualpa and the incorporation of the historical figure in various literary texts. Dr. Nance has succeeded in providing not only a thorough examination of this misinterpreted novel, but a review of the most significant contributions of major critics on parody, folklore, archetypes, syncretism, and indigenism. Definitely required reading for anyone interested in Latin American socio-political narrative." - Professor Marlene Gottlieb, Lehman College, The City University of New York

Table of Contents

1. Mi tío Atahualpa as Cervantine Satire
2. Sociohistorical Context of Mi tío Atahualpa
3. Folk Syncretism in Mi tío Atahualpa
4. The Impression of the Esoteric: Stylistic Patterns of Folk
5. Mi tío Atahualpa in its Literary Context
Selected Bibliography

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