Literary and Political History of Post-Revolutionary Mexico

Author: Quinn-Sánchez, Kathryn
This study demonstrates how the original, exclusive portrayals of the “ideal” nation and its “ideal” citizens are carried into the Post-Revolutionary era, whereby, authors such as Rosario Castellanos, Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz, Samuel Ramos, Rodolfo Usigli, and Xavier Villaurrutia view their society as a system that has segregated rather than unified individuals into one nation. Hence, the State’s legitimacy and authority to imagine what is considered “the ideal” is questioned explicitly, as is the authenticity of its foundational imaginings. The book responds directly to Doris Sommer’s Foundational Fictions (1991). While Sommer’s premise equates the writing of the romantic union of lovers from different backgrounds to the eventual success of the nation, this work exploits and expands the interdependent relationships between ideology, literature and the Mexican State that essentially guaranteed the failure of successful nation building. Moreover, this text exposes this failure through analyzing how twentieth-century Mexican authors and their works reject and contest the positivist legacy of the original foundational fictions.


“ ... Dr. Kathryn Quinn-Sánchez’s examination of the ideological and representational evolution of the concept of the ideal nation and national subject points out that by the mid-twentieth century Mexican writers and intellectuals had come to terms with the fact that Mexico had never become and had never been the ideal place imagined by the early Eurocentric foundational fictions. On the contrary, her perceptive reading of the theoretical and fictional texts has led her to conclude that the Mexico represented by contemporary writers is a unique conglomeration of different ethnicities, genders, and social classes willing to question and redefine the hierarchical parameters that in the past allowed the implementation of inequality and marginalization as official government policy. This recognition has brought about the possibility of finally imagining and executing the plural foundations that the author so cohesively describes in her concluding chapter. Because of the fascinating intertwine of nation building and literature, this book is a must in the library of any one interested in understanding the relations between political ideology and literature, and most specifically the evolution of State ideology and its fictional representation in twentieth-century Mexico.” – (from the Foreword) Professor María A. Salgado, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“ ... What happens, however, once the new nations are constituted? What role has literature, once so intricately connected to it, played when the nation-building project was over? ... This excellent study expands this productive line of inquiry into the 20th century by focusing on the particular case of Mexico. Highly readable without compromising sophistication and rigor, this work is a major contribution to the fields of Mexican and Latin American Studies and is an obligatory reference for anyone interested in the intersection of nationalism and literature.” – Professor Alejandro Mejías-López, Indiana University - Bloomington

“This study situates Octavio Paz’ novel, The Labyrinth of Solitude, as part of a continuum of works that deal with the question of what it means to be authentically Mexican, especially after the promises of the Mexican Revolution had been dashed. Her discussion of that book, alongside other works, places the elucidation of an authentic Mexican self in fictional and philosophical-historical works within theories and movements such as positivism, Social Darwinism, or indigenismo. By showing the impact of these theories on the political ideas of different periods, Dr. Quinn-Sánchez lucidly links the evolving self-constitution of Mexican identity to the dictates of the State ...” – Professor Nereida Segura-Rico, The College of New Rochelle

Table of Contents

Foreword by María A. Salgado
I. Ideology and the National Imaginary: “Ideal” Citizens in Early Twentieth Century Mexico
II. Reshaping the Nation: Imagining and Implementing Indigenismo in Post-Revolutionary Mexico
III. Challenging the Ideal National Subject: Psychological Portraits of the Post-Revolutionary Mexican
IV. Philosophical Nationalism: The 1950s Mexican
V. Plural Foundations
VI. Selected Bibliography
VII. Index