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Latin American perspectives a program of comment and analysis about current Latin American problems and their historical setting. The commentator for these programs is Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Here now is Dr. Gardner. Five years ago Carlos Fuentes invited to come to the United States to engage in a television debate. He was denied entry into this country by the immigration authorities. Not so his books however and one after another they have helped the now middle aged vigorous Mexican novelist to an international reputation. His latest work a change of skin is published by Farrar Straus and your role. But first a word about the man and his earlier writings. FUENTES spelled f u e n t e s is a Mexican revolutionary.
His viewpoint basically is that the Mexican Revolution has simmered down. Indeed it has perhaps petered out without achieving what was desirable. His viewpoint also is that historically capitalism has been a colossal failure in Latin America. Indeed some of the views that he wanted to present but was denied the opportunity to air since he did not get into the United States included his thinking along these six lines. This becomes a six point castigation of the failure of capitalism in Latin America by Fuentes. First he insists there has been a continuous mono productive deep pendants that Latin America has known because of capitalism. Secondly a continuous system of a lot of fun India third continuous under-development forth continuous political stagnation 5th continuous general
injustices and sixt continuous dependence upon foreign capital. All of this would suggest that Fuentes is much concerned about foreign affairs much concerned about economic injustice. But the truth of the matter is in his novels we have him more concerned about the nature of people people who are the products of the economic order of which he does not approve. And so we consequently have as leading characters indeed characterless throughout his works those who seem more than mildly degenerate are the ones who are out of step with the idealism that he would espouse in terms of his revolutionary nature in 1060 his volume where the air is cleared. It was first brought into the English. It concerned the new middle class in Mexico with the setting of the work in Mexico City 1951 he
employed it as he has in subsequent novels. Extensive flashbacks and a lusty profanity a profanity that finds the characters throughout it all searching for questing for identity will find it in his latest book A change of skin the quest for identity is still a major part of his literary burden. One of the critics writing in this country welcoming where the air is clear said at that time in one thousand sixty that it was the most ambitious and skillful work to come out of Mexico in a long time and by all odds the most modern. To many however with the numerous flashbacks with the confusion of time of space indeed of characters on occasion it was more a pastiche more a montage and so more a clever experiment in the art of writing. But any rate it helped pave the way for a second book of
his to come into the English the next year 1961 that was entitled The good conscience. Again he dealt with Mexican characters the setting in the mountain town of Guanajuato with a story of conflict. The young member of a powerful family. The conflict being between the practical realities of his family's world and the idealism of his own youth. Again characterization was strong. It was a simple intense tale of tormented adolescence. One critic termed it a novel of The Making of the bourgeois with the dashing of dreams the abandonment of hope. And so in the second novel as in the first brought into English there is a measure of the negative the castigation of the characters by the author. The third work in 1064 was the death of our timeo cruise. MARTIN You know cruise was a 71 year old man who was on his deathbed and it was
on his death bed long enough to remember his whole life and his whole life seemed to parallel the tragedy our mirror the tragedy of Mexico being a story of rape of greed of lust of the rise and success of robber barons in the country south of the Rio Grande. A novel of power and imagination. This work published in 1064 in the English is to be termed like the others novels of the Mexican revolution but with a more complex characterization a more complex statement of the social protest and the simple narrative writings of 20 30 years ago that were also called novels of the Mexican Revolution. We come now to this fourth work brought into the English. The title a change of skin. The work that has just been issued. This is basically the story of
four characters on Palm Sunday. They decide to drive from Mexico City to Vera Cruz Semana Santa Holy Week. On the way they stop over at Cholula and in truth in that city which was once the seat of the religious life of the Aztecs. You have the rest of the story taking place because the four Travellers I never quite get there folks Bogen down the road far enough to get to Mexico City. One of the characters is the driver Frons an expatriate Sudeten German who once served with the Nazis and with him is Isabel his Mexican lover a pussycat hipster type out for the weekend kick. The two other members are a married couple. The Mexican Javier and his American wife Elizabeth. Javier in his younger
days we meet Him middle aged and in his 40s had written a fine sensitive book of poetry had been awarded a fellowship had gone abroad to study. This brought him to New York City where instead of studying instead of writing more he fell in love married the American girl took her back to Mexico. And ever since he's been striving unsuccessfully to write he is in essence then a 40 year old talented failure. We have then two Mexicans an American and a German in this quartet going across Mexico and we have their lives looked into with microscopic detail on this one day. That is Sunday April 11. Nineteen sixty five. All four are searching for something of real value. Here again is in those earlier novels by Fuentes. There is a quest for identity for one
character Elizabeth. It's a love that she is searching for. Javier and her husband the unsuccessful writer is searching for creation and it is about oil. The play girl is merely after experience and Frons the refugee. The renegade German is hoping for a measure of redemption. It's not all though however a focus simply upon these four characters as they move from Mexico City often to the town of Cholula. We occasionally meet the women with narrow foreheads small teeth set in thick gums hair and short braids. The prematurely rules show all rap to young women whose bellies are big with the next child. While the last holds to their hand are sleeps in their arms or rides behind wrapped in the shawl. We see too and these are also words from Fuentes. The town of
chill Lula. They paint flaking arcade. It's green it's gray it's Pollard yellows from a small grocery came smells of soap and stale cheese next door was an oyster bar where the owner had placed two aluminum tables and seven wicker chairs out in the open air. But no one sat to eat the oysters in the tall why greywater officialdom occupies the central part of the arcade. The town hall the Treasury the headquarters of 3rd Battalion shyster fixtures and go betweens dressed in black the distant unworried coldly smiling faces of the soldiers police headquarters. Then the general store of the brothers Garcia brooms brushes sacks cables wire mats willow baskets and a placard over the
door. We get these glimpses then of people and places that remove us from the focus of our four primary characters. But give them a genuine Mexican setting and the feel of that land. That culture. But then there comes for example the crushing contrast and the Discuss to Fuentes when he writes. If Mexico is nature in Ruin the United States is machines in ruin in Mexico everything is a ruin because everything is promised and no promise is kept in the United States. All promises have been kept. Yet it is a ruin just the same. And then he moves from his battle of the cultures back to an awareness of the general. And you meet the themes of the Mexican nature of mankind as we read these words from what Fuentes. The man was old gray haired with bent
shoulders. He walked mechanically as if he were carrying a heavy load on his back and gone exhausted by Labor in years and when he turned slowly and faced you his forehead was wrinkled as if it were still bound by a porter's headband a strap that he had worn for decades. The burden on his back shifting to the movements of his tired thin body as he came and went from the mountains with firewood. He stopped and stared at you and took off his tattered hat and then there is more of a culture fight. There was more of the degradation and the consternation as Merican Wife vs.. Mexican husband continues Elizabeth the speaking. Well I get up first to win a little victory over Javier. To prove that I'm very active and energetic while he lies in bed I'm ready for whatever the day may bring the war begin between the sexes narrowed
down to the civil war of wife against husband. And so I proved by Yankee mentality and moral superiority to my drowsy Mexican male. He brings himself to this his laziness his hypochondria his flabby body. This is a work in which we have then the conflict of individuals the conflict of cultures statements and restatements of values and a great deal that borders between the valley of the dolls and Peyton Place. I am sure that once again Carlos Fuentes has a best seller in a change of skin published by Farrar Straus and Giroux. This was a Latin American perspectives with Dr S. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program on Dr. Gardner We'll examine another aspect of life in Latin America
The Institute on Man and Science
Crime, revolution and Black Power
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Institute on Man and Science
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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This program features the lecture "Crime, Revolution and Black Power" by Wyatt Tee Walker, Special Assistant to Governor Nelson Rockefeller on Urban Affairs, Pastor Canaan Baptist Church, Harlem, was Executive Director, Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
A lecture and discussion series on major current problems like urban decay; pollution; space exploration; and the role of science in finding solutions. Talks were held during the summer of 1968 at the Institute on Man and Science, New York.
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Producing Organization: Institute on Man and Science
Speaker: Walker, Wyatt Tee
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-33-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:01
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Chicago: “The Institute on Man and Science; Crime, revolution and Black Power,” 1968-10-08, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 5, 2021,
MLA: “The Institute on Man and Science; Crime, revolution and Black Power.” 1968-10-08. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 5, 2021. <>.
APA: The Institute on Man and Science; Crime, revolution and Black Power. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from