Novels of Agustin Yáñez’. A Critical Portrait of Mexico in the 20th Century

Author: Harris, Andrew
This is first English-language study of all six of Yáñez’s novels, and it breaks new ground by offering radically new perspectives on his narrative fiction, and on his status within the field of Mexican literary history.


"Yáñez (Yanez) is best remembered as a technical innovator and novelist of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20). Harris (Univ. of Liverpool, UK) claims that Yáñez (Yanez) was a social critic as well--an unusual assertion considering that Yáñez (Yanez) held high government office and toed the PRI line for many decades. Harris's argument rests principally on Yáñez's (Yanez's) three urban novels that denounce caciquismo (control by "strongmen"), corruption, and government restrictions on artistic freedom while vigorously promoting economic development as the way for Mexico to defeat bossism and modernize. He portrays Yáñez (Yanez) as an intellectual whose credibility, generally speaking, remained uncompromised by his loyalty to Mexico's autocratic government. Though he acknowledges that Yáñez's (Yanez's) silence after the massacre of Tlaltelolco in 1968, in which hundreds of student protestors and others were killed by government troops, constitutes a flagrant exception to his thesis, the author maintains that, overall, Yáñez (Yanez) managed to walk the fine line between critical conscience and party spokesman. Although Harris's argument is only partially convincing, his book is useful for its presentation of the ethical and artistic dilemmas confronting Mexico's intellectuals, who are often caught between self-interest and more noble impulses. Especially useful for undergraduates." - CHOICE