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Latin America perspectives a series of information and comment about Latin America with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. These programs are recorded by station w s r u FM. Here now is Dr. Gardner. A time when many Americans here in the United States live at tempos that deny them leisure to read and others read at tempos that deny them all reflection. Some of our literary forms are waning in popularity. One such is the essay. Why ask the average citizen Republik what he has read in the way of essays lately. And you'll draw a blank white blank that suggests he's read nothing and he might even reply in derisive tones that essays are passe. Why ask him to name an essayist and he will probably fall back on Ralph Waldo Emerson. What this then suggests
that the essay and the essay for people in our land take us to the 19th century but they are no longer a part of the 20th century. It becomes one of the things that differentiates a segment of intellectual activity in the United States from that in Latin America because south of the border there is an intellectual vigor that has long made much indeed still makes a great deal of the writing of essays. Hey writing and publication of essays is much more commonly before the public in Latin America because indeed the number of volumes of them published the number of journals that admit them to their pages the number of newspapers that do so on are legion. It would be somewhat of a novelty for a very thoughtful provocative essay to appear on the pages of an American newspaper even a Sunday issue special magazine
section. But it is a common place for magazines and newspapers newspapers in particular not only to carry such on their pages on Sunday but off time as daily fare for the people. This means of course then there is an automatic invitation to the writing of essays because there is an outlet for the publication of essays. It is of course possible however to easily overestimate the role of the essayist. The impact of the ideas there and in Latin American circles. The vast majority of that intellectual group dedicated to the writing of essays would be found either in national capitals close upon major national universities or they are to be found in some of the more prominent of the provincial or state capitals. This means that there are a few isolated nuclei of such intellectual
workers and one can of course wonder about the ratio of literacy and whether or not in Latin America as Herr there are those readers who are even given an essay in the newspaper are scaring so rapidly toward the so called Comics on the sports page. The latest word for the ladies that it is a bit of wasted print on paper. It's difficult then saying the role and seeing what the impact is but nonetheless the presence of the essay as a literary form as a medium for the expression of ideals a philosophy of ideological conflict has long been with a Latin American and is very vigorous there today. The weight of the intellectual sector within the totality of Spanish American culture is impressively demonstrated by noting the considerable number of thinkers and literary men who have attained high office in those nations.
Contrast with the United States a striking this nation did not elect did not even propose Horace Mann as president. Yet Argentina did make the essayist and educational theorist Domingo Faustino Sarmiento its chief executive. What anyone in the United States thought seriously of proposing a writer of original novels and social protest a man such as starting back as a presidential. Tended it unlikely. Yet it was just such a man. The celebrated novelist Romeo guy here goes. Who was elected president of Venezuela 1946. Why not American readers may be surprised to learn that Victoria. I get an Atari one of the leading candidates in the Peruvian presidential election of 1962 is an essayist of hemispheric repute who has published serious papers while such esoteric themes
as the relationship between Einstein's theory of relativity and the philosophy of history. One might also be surprised to learn that Juan Bosch. Former President of the Dominican Republic and of late the center of political controversy in the Caribbean was a short story writer and essayist of considerable stature. Long before his name graced the Associated Press wire services her course not all Spanish American presidents or other governmental leaders have been writers and intellectuals and by the same token this country has had an occasional Jefferson and Wilson and its public life nonetheless. In addition to the greater relative number of intellectuals in the Spanish American public life as compared with people in the United States there is in the hands in the lands to the south a different popular attitude toward the man of letters who would seek public
office. One fact that Woodrow Wilson was a professor of political science and president of a great university before his election is usually treated as a curiosity in the context of American politics. When Spanish America by contrast the academic titles of Dr are less sentient or the fact that a man has written a good novel are unquestionable assets for that political aspirant. Understandably the situation has a negative side. Given the limited diffusion of general education in many countries it's all too easy to take advantage of a blind respect for the academician. But whether the well educated man uses his privileged position for good or evil is beside the point. The fact remains that his activities as a writer philosopher Professor poet do not disqualify him. When I took part in determining his nation's destiny rather they
enhance his chances of playing such a role. What is then in the realm of writing whether the essay a short thing a thoughtful thing that many a Latin-American launches a career that is not simply intended to be a literary career but one which finds the ideas as they are presented in a magazine newspaper and from a public platform catapulting him into political prominence. Many a leading politician in Latin America has continued to have this intellectual side the literary side of his life parallel his political activity. Within Latin America there are two centers of intellectual activity that stand above all others one in the non-theists Mexico City and one font of the South. When US
is each of these costs dominates as capital a country in which it is located. Each of these is also bigger than the country in which it is located. As far as it being a magnet for intellectuals is concerned numbers of intellectuals and somehow intellectuals have a habit of crossing the wires. Public opinion find a persona non grata with dictators have made their way out of one small Central American country to another to Mexico City. It's not uncommon to see the Mexican capital the haven of the intellectual exile self-imposed perhaps from Honduras or Nicaragua or Guatemala or indeed from some of the islands of the Caribbean. This has meant that Mexico City has been bigger than life bigger than the Mexican prospects for producing the
life and the ideas the essayists would relish and would record. There is a rubbing of intellectual elbow so to speak. There is an intensity of activity that is not only a quantitative but a qualitative thing. In the final product and it goes without say that some of the finest most thoughtful and indeed those that seem to have the prospect of a long life as SARS have come out of Mexico to the far south of Buenos Aires is another focal point for a country because when it's areas as a capital it dominates Argentina as completely as Mexico City can be said to dominate Mexico and. Like Mexico City when a sari reaches beyond the national boundary to become the magnetic force drawing the man from Aura by drawing the person from Powerglide from Bolivia. And so there has
been a focal point there of intellectual activity which has translated into a greater number of publishing houses books issued journals printed newspapers published and bought and sold. This means then that the words of a man like Abbas can sell US s a s from Mexico of Afonso race essayist from Mexico of Rojas from Argentina of Rodolfo from or a glass of the Dominican Republic and others have become as important as they have in terms of total impact because they have gravitated toward it they have not already been a party to these more magnetic centers that are Mexico and when US armies one man in the generous list studied
is Waldo Frank a citizen of the United States by temperament by subject matter has long been identified with Latin America. The essayists of Latin America can best be studied in the time period since 1890 this being a period in which the forces of American imperialism the forces of the Spanish-American War that retreat of Spain the penetration of investments the refurbishing of capitals along the lines of the reforms that Saul Paris redecorated as it were by Napoleon the third all this foreign influence in and many would want to assess the significance it had in the way of life of Latin America. A volume has been written by Martin s s t a double B and titled in quest of identity. The subtitle is very significant patterns in the Spanish-American essay of ideas
1890 to nineteen sixty. This work treats the focus upon scientism focus upon race relations to focus upon religious life. It indeed gets into the ideological conflicts about modernity about the significance of Latin American culture nationality of internationalism. And so it becomes an introduction to this area of intellectual activity the like of which we do not know now in quest of identity by Martin S. Staub is published by the University of North Carolina Press. This was another program in the series Latin America perspectives with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program when Dr. Gardner will comment on another interesting aspect of
Latin American affairs. These programs are recorded by station w s r u FM and are made available to this station by the National Education o Radio Network.
Latin American perspectives II
Episode Number
Episode 14 of 38
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Global Affairs
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-31-14 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:52
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives II; Episode 14 of 38,” 1968-12-03, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
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APA: Latin American perspectives II; Episode 14 of 38. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from