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Hybridity in New World Baroque Theory Author(s): Csar Augusto Salgado Source: The Journal of American Folklore, Vol.

112, No. 445, Theorizing the Hybrid (Summer, 1999), pp. 316-331 Published by: American Folklore Society Stable URL: Accessed: 19/08/2010 16:35
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Hybridity in New World Baroque Theory

This article a on surveys genealogy 20th-century of writings thecultural studyof baroque and in the colonial art, literature, architecture produced LatinAmerica during period.It the in works "neobaroque" the rolethattheorizing hybrid like authors explores plays by LezamaLima, Alejo Carpentier, SeveroSarduyand how theydefinein their and Jose worksa "New Worldbaroque" aesthetic that is distinct sources.The from European article contribution the debate. to focuseson LezamaLima'sinfluential

has America, continent of symbiosis, of mutations, of vibrations,of mestizajes, been baroque from the start.... And why is LatinAmericathe promisedland of the baroque?Because all symbiosis,all mestizaje, gives rise to baroqueness.[Carpentier1987:110, 112] WHAT ROLE DOES THEORIZING THE HYBRID PLAY in the critique and redefinition

of the

Eurocentric concept of the baroque that Latin American authors have conducted was throughout this century?The term baroque firstused to designatea stylisticperiod of extravagantartificialityand ornamentationin post-RenaissanceEuropean art and the literatureand to characterize doctrinaland iconographicstrategiesof the CounterReformation.' More recently, it has come to describe particularinstances of Latin American culturalalterityin the discourseof what I will call here New World (or, for short, neo-) baroquetheory. Within this discourse,the baroquefunctionsas a trope or mixture")rather ("racial adjectivefor the region's complex ethnic and artisticmestizaje than as a referenceto exclusivelyWestern culturalforms. To crossfrom the European baroque into the LatinAmericanneobaroqueis to move from a hegemonic, diffusionist, and acculturating conception of the term to an emancipating,autochthonous, and one. transculturating I argue here that New World baroque theorists achieved this redefinition by have undergone that focusing on the hybridrefigurations Europeanbaroqueparadigms into the colonial arena. Neobaroque writer-theoristssuch as the when transplanted LezamaLima (1910-76), Alejo Carpentier(1904-80), and Severo Cuban scholars Jos& of studied how "New World baroque"culturalartifacts the colonial Sarduy(1936-93) of ratherthan as applications European period could be readas instancesof discontinuity aesthetic norms despite their visible allegianceto a metropolitanschool or style. The neobaroque theorists' emphasis on such discontinuities recalls Homi K. Bhabha's
Literature the University Texas at Cesar Augusto Salgado is AssistantProfessor Spanishand Comparative of of at Austin Folklore 112(445):316-331. Copyright ? 1999, American Folklore Society. Journalof American

Salgado,New World Baroque Theory


discussion of hybridity "as a problematic of colonial representation and individuation that reverses the effect of the colonialist disavowal, so that other 'denied' knowledges enter upon the dominant discourse and estrange the basis of its authority, its rules of recognition" (1994:114). In other words, these theorists believe that studying the emergence of an idiosyncratic "New World baroque" would point to an ironic reversal of the Spanish imperial project, one in which, through hybridizing strategies, the colonial subject took advantage of baroque elements in the dominant discourse to create sites and terms for cultural resistance and survival. What Bhabha calls "the hybrid reduction of the colonial symbol to sign" (1994:113) describes the transformation that baroque emblems and motifs underwent when criollo (American-bom white or "mainly white" Spanish descendants), mestizo, and native artists recontextualized them into subaltern systems of meaning that "estranged" fixed hegemonic significations. Thus, the "New World baroque" is interpreted as a locus of latent alterities because here the transplanted model became mutated through the surreptitious insertion or grafting of the "denied" cultural elements the model was supposed to displace or suppress. americano Although the expression "New World baroque" or barroco may communicate a grandiose and unproblematic vision of mestizaje (as per the quote by Carpentier at the beginning of this article) and often stands as a formula for a utopian ethnic integration, the neobaroque theorist also reminds us that this "positive" mongrelization of European high styles resulted from the painful and incongruous overlapping of foreign and native morphologies in conflict. The profound concern for the baroque in Latin American cultural theory may have no equivalent in current postcolonial thinking; the colonial projects deconstructed by Edward Said, Gayatry Spivak, and Homi Bhabha tend to be seen as illustrations of what Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno called the dialectic of the Enlightenment (1994).2 These postcolonial critics study the contradictions of European liberal universalism as it undertook the hierarchical control, domestication, and classification of cultural "others" during the Western imperialist expansion into Africa, the Middle East, and Asia across the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.3 The Spanish colonial experiment in Latin America predated post-Enlightenment imperialism; it both accomplished its geopolitical and military apogee and fell into financial ruin during the baroque age. The neobaroque writers scoured the postconquest colonial period in Spanish America for baroque texts, images, figures, and artifacts that could help illuminate contemporary issues of culture and hybridity because, as Roberto Gonzilez-Echevarria has argued, they considered the baroque the originary moment of Latin American sensibility.4 Their emphasis on the baroque period contradicted the master narrative prevailing in much of Latin American historiography which regards the emergence of anti-Spanish resentment, nationalism, and the independence struggle as a consequence of the region's exposure to 18th-century enlightened doctrines. Neobaroque theory sought instead to find hybrid dissent at the time of greatest colonial conformity and quiescence, during the so-called long siesta of the 17th century, when the systematic elimination of the external signs of native cultures was accomplished and racial miscegenation was anathematized by forced classification and disciplination in a societal caste system. New World baroque writers thus theorized the hybrid as a hidden inscription


Journalof AmericanFolklore112 (1999)

of difference within the fictional sameness of official culture, as rebellious graffiti camouflagedin the forest of baroquesymbols.

Precursors New World Theory Baroque of

Although formulated between the 1950s and the 1980s in essays related to the humanitiesand the artsin Latin America and the Caribbean,neobaroque theory had importantprecursorsin the field of Hispanicliteraryhistory. None of these precursors visualized the role played by hybridity in the colonial baroque in any analogous fashion. The study of colonial SpanishAmerican baroque poetry as a subcategoryof Hispanic peninsularliteraturewas initiated in the late 19th century by the Spanish philologist Marcelino Menindez y Pelayo in his monumental Historiade la poesia ("History of SpanishAmerican Poetry") (1911). Having startedhis hispano-americana research in 1892 during the celebration of the fourth centennial of Columbus's "discovery,"Men6ndez y Pelayo intended to demonstratehow comparablethe culturalbenefitsbrought by peninsularcivilizationinto the New World were to those the Greeksand Romans brought into the Old World. Menendez y Pelayo readthe criollo and poets of the colonial period as consonant, "pure"examples of Hispanic character who developed an American accent by describing the exuberant New psychology, from World landscaperatherthan from any hybridincorporationof artisticexpressions He the "barbarous" cultures.5 judged most of the literaryproduction of the indigenous 17th century in the Americasto be affectedimitationsof the florid and, accordingto Men6ndez y Pelayo, decadent aesthetic of the Seville baroque poet Luis de G6ngora (1561-1627). Menendez y Pelayo'sposition was challengedin the 1940s by Mexican criticAlfonso Reyes (1889-1959), Dominican scholar Pedro Henriquez Urefia (1889-1946), and Venezuelan essayist Mariano Pic6n Salas (1901-65), who put together exhaustive cataloguesof colonial literaryworks and wrote encompassingessayson LatinAmerican de culturalhistory that highlightedwhat they called the Barroco Indias("Baroqueof the more often on contrast than continuity with European Indies") period. Focusing models, they sought to extricate an early criollo idiosyncrasyfrom the peninsular and resentmentsaccruedfrom matrix, arguing that a sense of extraieza("alienation") inferior political privileges vis-a-vis Spanish-born officials translatedinto a having distinctcriollo identity, not just an "accent,"by the 1600s. However, althoughin their work Reyes, Henriquez Urefia, and Pic6n Salasavidly celebratedthe mestizo contribution of non-European artisansin architecture,the plastic arts, and folk expression from the 16th century on, they did not acknowledgea significanthybridcontent in the works of high criollo literature of the 17th century. In contrast to the dynamic Spanish-indigenouscultural and ethnic intermixing of the early decades of Spanish American colonization, they regardedthe baroque colonial period as an epoch of reinforcedsocial schismsthat permittedless caste-to-casteinfluence within the narrow, lettered elite and of a "langour"and effeminacy that stood in stark contrastto the enterprising"virility"and inclusive creativityof the immediate postconquestperiod. Often their Barroco de Indias appearsas an age of lavish criollo expenditure and

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pretense that reflected-through the magnifyinglens of colonial opulence--the decadence of a declining empire.6 Hybridity plays a very small role in the discussionof the colonial baroque in Pic6n Salas'sclassic 1944 study De la Conquista la Independencia a in (translated 1962 with "From Conquest to Independence" as subtitle; see 1971). After drawing in his first chapters a favorable picture of the 16th century in Latin America as a time of effervescentculturalmestizajeenergizedby the open-minded curiositythat missionaries like Motolinia and Bernardinode Sahagfinhad toward indigenous traditions,Pic6n Salas represents the baroque century as a repressive and repressedaristocraticera. Neoscholasticism, the Inquisition, and a growing economic and social separation between the white urban criollos and the mestizo, Indian, and Black working masses led to cultural stagnation and superfluousness.He writes, "The free spirit and the adventurous,creative zeal to invent new ways to understandthe aboriginal way of life of characteristic the sixteenth centuryhad withered away by the seventeenthcentury:a static, indolent period followed a dynamic one" (1971:69). Thus, ratherthan regard the creativewriters of the Baroque age as hybrid originals,Pic6n Salastends to discuss outstandingwhite criollo poets, such as MexicansBernardode Balbuenaand SorJuana Ines de la Cruz and PeruvianJuan de Caviedes,as weaker Americanpersonifications of the metaphysicaland worldly themes, elliptical style, and tortured psychology that characterized"Golden Age" Spanish baroque writers like G6ngora, Francisco de Quevedo, and Pedro Calder6nde la Barca(1971:85-105). Pic6n Salasthus labeledthe uniquely bitter Caviedes as "a minor Quevedo" (1971:101) and avoided commenting in depth on cases of translinguistic writing such as the Nahuatl villancicos ("Christmas Sor Juana and the Quechua plays by Peruvian mestizo and G6ngora carols") by apologistJuan Espinozay Medrano. Pic6n Salasconsideredthe 16th century to be the truerperiod of mestizo writing;he arguedthat duringthe colonial baroquethere were no outstanding mestizo intellectual figures as there had been previously (such as Garcilasode la Vega el Inca and Fernandode Alva Ixtlix6chitl) because a new, more rigidlyenforced racialsegregationpreventedtheir appearance (1971:75-76). For Pic6n Salas, the "mestizo conciliation" encouraged by the missionariescontinued only in architecture,given that the relianceon the native massesfor labor allowed indigenous artiststo leave "the mark of their artistic will on the Spanish Catholic baroque" buildings (1971:94). Meanwhile, criollo literaturebecame "esoteric" (1971:95) and disengaged from indigenous input. The following description of the baroque years summarizesPic6n Salas's position: "The Indianshad lost their history,as yet the mixed elements had made none, and the little of historicalsignificance that happened was limited to a tiny circle of half-alienwhites in whom a national consciousnesshad not yet dawned" (1971:94). It was in the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s that a concept of New World baroque cultureas differential hybridtook hold in the writingsof LezamaLima, Carpentier, and and Sarduy.7 is here that we have an affirmative It descriptionof New World baroque not exclusively as a manifestationof white criollo discontent and estranged literature, identity but as a mestizo expressiononly partiallydependent on the Europeanmatrix. The neobaroque theoristsaccomplishedthis reversalby foregroundingless the sphere of criollo writing while articulatinga more inclusive, ethnically and socially mixed


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scenarioof culturalproduction and giving an equivalentimportancein their analyses to the pictorial and architectural arts.As a result, the Indian, Black, or mestizo artisan's presence was unarguablyfelt. Indeed, the former generation of Barroco de Indias culturalcritics-Reyes, Henriquez Urefia, Pic6n Salas-were hommes lettres, des biblifirst trained in philology. Rather than literary historians,Lezama Lima, ographers of Carpentier,and Sarduywere poets-novelists-essayists eclectic education and backthus deployed in their thinking a more interdisciplinary and fluid ground.8 They notion of culture and make more frequent references in their essays and novels to ethnology, archaeology, cosmology, architecture,musicology, linguistics,and, in the case of Sarduy,semiotics and poststructuralist theory. What I would like to emphasize here is how their vision of New World baroque culture, although inspiredby literature-focused Barroco de Indiasstudies such as Pic6n Salas's,was just as influenced by innovative interpretationsfrom new historical works on Latin American colonial architectureand pictorialartspublishedin the late 1940s and early 1950s. I believe Lezama Lima, Carpentier, and Sarduy were especially receptive to the conflation of European art history principles with New World archaeology and ethnographywhich distinguishedpostwar works on colonial art and architectureby Manuel Toussaint, George Kubler, and Pil Kelemen. In these works a similardebate about an autochthonous and hybrid "LatinAmericanbaroque"was made in regardto the plastic arts.9In their speculations about the aesthetics of New World baroque the ornamentationin religiousstructures, art historiansdeemphasizedcriollo exclusivresearchof cross-ethnicand multiclasseconomic and social ism and favored transversal negotiations in the arts. In contrastto the literaryhistorians,the art historiansrarely spoke about the elitism, degeneracy,resentment,or stagnationof the baroquecolonial period but, rather, considered it as a moment of invigoration that managed often to improve aestheticallyon the European paradigm.The proposalsLezama Lima, Carof pentier, and Sarduymake extrapolatefrom such positive appraisals the plasticartsin the New World; among written works, they chose to discussthose that best incorporated visual artifacts,icons, emblems, and rituals.Both LezamaLima and Carpentier often addresshow the urban space of the colonial period became a contact zone in which European architecture,criollo circumstantial literature,and mestizo craftsmanmixed to create multicoded forms of convivial public performance-bilingual ship religiousplays, triumphalarchesdecoratedwith Nahuatlanmotifs, and processionsand masquesincorporatingindigenous or Africanmusical instrumentsand dances-in the highly ceremonious viceregalsociety.10 that in and It was Kelemen's 1951 work Baroque Rococo LatinAmerica probablymost influenced the neobaroque theoristswhile leaving, in the process, tracesof its methKelemen's evaluationof the Americantransodological and conceptualcontradictions. formation of the European baroque was both unusual and attractivebecause it was made from the perspectiveof an Old World art scholarturned New World ethnographer. In Kelemen's book we have instancesof what James Cliffordhas called "ethnographicself-fashioning"(1988:92-113)." The author organizedhis catalogueof Latin American cathedrals,temples, religioussculptures,and paintingsfollowing the format of the "grandtour" of monuments that typifiesEuropean art history,yet his aesthetic observations and travel anecdotes are deftly intertwined to recall the narrativeand

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methods of anthropological fieldwork. Kelemen relates details of his journeys to remote villagesin the Mexican Sierraor the Andes Altiplanoin searchfor artworksand annotates his observationsabout the syncretic ceremonies held by the mestizo and Indian communities in the baroque chapels his team photographed.Although Kelemen's admirationfor the vitalilty and boldness of the "baroquefolk art" featuredin those churches might often alternatewith patronizingremarksabout the lack of care his for these "treasures," overall commentaryis alwaysjarringlyrelativistic.'2 Kelemen invoke the theories of his teacher Heinrich W6lfflin while describinghis might easily stay in a "Maya hut in Yucatan or travel by muleback in the High Andes" in his introduction (1951:vii, xii), allude to principles of avant-gardeexpressionismwhile discussingthe fetish Aztec carvingson the missionaryatrium crucifixes(1951:53-56), or referto Bernini'sbaldachinin St. Peter'sbasilicato discuss"the folkloricinterpretation of European models" in the spiral columns of the remote San Pedro Mirtir Church in Juli, Peru (1951:269-270). What authorizesKelemen to make these leveling comparisons between Old World and New World baroque art without subordinatingthe latter to the former is the Spengleriandepreciationof "decadent,"late Europeansplendorin favor of the merits of the more "robust"Americanconstructions,even when these belong to the "primitive" category of anonymous folk art. This calculateddisparagement the metropoliof tan paradigmfollows from a crisisof spiritualconfidence provoked in Kelemen by the destruction caused by World War II, a disillusionmentstrongly stated in Kelemen's dedication of the book.13Kelemen's European art expert turned travelingethnogranovel TheLostSteps(1956b) pher recallsthe culturedprotagonistof Alejo Carpentier's in 1953], who, disturbedby his visions of [Los pasosperdidos, originally published concentration camps as a soldier in World War II and disillusionedwith the soulless mechanization of the postwar metropolis,journeys to villages in the primal Amazon jungle or the Andes sierra in search of anthropologicalobjects that can reflect the New World.14 vitality of an innocent, prelapsarian For Kelemen, the New World is the site where the moribundEuropeanmodel will be preservedand transformed it is "infusedwith a new blood" (1951:22). Biological as metaphorsare key tropes in Kelemen's examinations,and they take forms other than multiculturalblood transfusions. The American baroquefor Kelemen is also an intrafor the apparentlyabsurd,naive overlayeringof Western styles in European hybrid, one New World building (with Herreriantowers, Churrigueresque Gothic faCades, can neverthelessachieve an organic, vernacularcoherence that would have ceilings) been impossibleto accomplishin Europe, as if only on New World ground could such bold graftingsbe sustained.15 "The City of Columns" and other essays,Carpentier In Kelemen's idea of the New World baroque as an organic patchwork of appropriated anachronistic that Europeanformswhen analyzingthe peculiaraesthetic"stylelessness" the hybridjuxtapositionof disparate architectural modes producesin Havanaand other Latin American cityscapes(1987:42-43).'6 Kelemen also employs botanicalnotions of hybridity, speaking about the influence of the exuberantNew World vegetation on European ornamentalmotifs and religious symbols, as if the "seed" of the baroque and would, by virtue of cross-pollination the fecundity of the Americansoil, produced a new species of art.17 The ascriptionof a baroque differentialcharacterto the New


Folklore (1999) 112 of Journal American

World landscapeand soil is another Kelemen trope that Carpentierand LezamaLima incorporatedin their essays.18

in Hybridity LezamaLima'sNew World Baroque

Among the writings of the neobaroque theorists,the most influential may be the essay "La curiosidadbarroca"("The Curiosity of the Baroque"), the second of five lecturesJos' LezamaLima gave at the National Instituteat Havanain January1957 and americana ("The AmericanExpression") publishedas a book under the title La expresi6n All other discussionsof New World baroque aestheticsby later that year (see 1993). Carpentier,Sarduy,and LezamaLima himselftake off from this essay.In the remainder of this article I will gloss "The Curiosity of the Baroque" in order to ascertainhow Lezama Lima theorized hybridity in his vision of a counterhegemonic American baroque. Then I conclude by commenting briefly on the relevance Lezama Lima's neobaroque ideas have in the contemporaryculturaldiscourse of post-1989 revolutionaryCuba. of That LezamaLima acknowledges the "reversal" the colonialistparadigmBhabha is observes in hybrid colonial representations evident in how he startshis essay with trenchantdefinitions of European and New World baroque, which are diametrically opposed. Playingon Wilhelm Worringer's,HeinrichWolfflin's,and Oswald Spengler's of characterizations the baroquein Europe, LezamaLima describesthe proliferationof ornamentsin Western baroqueart as operatingfrom passive,mechanicalaccumulation The sin and sedate asymmetry (asimetria plutonismo).19 New sin (acumulacidn tensidn) World baroque, on the other hand, inscribesa dynamic "tension"within its proliferation, while its asymmetry is the result of "plutonism,"a term Lezama Lima never defines explicitly which could be describedas a destructivecosmogonical or telluric form of energy that emanatesfrom some primaland volcanic "big bang" explosion of violence (1993:80). Like Worringer and Pic6n Salas,LezamaLima regardsthe European baroque as a "derivativestyle" of increasingdegeneration.ContradictingPic6n Salaswhile siding with Kelemen, he sees the American baroque as a vigorous, "pleRenaisof nary"style that is in no way a decadent or depleted reformulation classical, the American baroque is not a mannerist sance, or gothic motifs. To Lezama Lima, mimicry of the Europeanbut, rather,a creativemode in which Old World styles are mutated, grown, coaxed-into New World forms of expresacrecentados-cultivated, sion. To illustratehis points, LezamaLima relies equally on examplesfrom white criollo literary, scientific, and historical writings (by Sor Juana, Mexican savant Carlos de Sigiienza y G6ngora, and Colombian poet-priest Hemando Dominguez Camargo) and from mestizo religious architectureand sculpture(like the intricatestonework in Jos&Kondori and the statuesand temples of the Titicaca region by Indian craftsman known as El Aleijadihno). in relief~ MinasGeraischurchessculptedby the mulattoartisan Lezama Lima extols the "occult, hieraticalsynthesis of the Spanish and the Indian" (1993:105) achieved in the work of Kondori and the "grandiose union of the Hispanic and the African cultures" (1993:105-106) in Aleijadihno's sculpture. He also considersSor Juana'suse of the HuitzilipoztliAztec fertilityrite to dramatizethe

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mystery of the Eucharistin the loa ("prelude")to her religious play El Divino Narciso ("Divine Narcissus")as an equivalent case of hybrid fusion in white criollo writing (1993:98-99). Lezama Lima believes the combination of Western and non-Western religiousicons in New World baroqueartis an uneasy,anxious synthesisbearingtraces of pugnacity--of "tension"-because it is always the consequence of a temeridad that ("temerity"), is, of the brassassertionon the partof both the criollo writersand the of mestizo artisans their right to "insertalien symbols"(1993:103) into the cosmological constructof the Spanishbaroque.LezamaLima regardsSorJuana's,Kondori's,and Aleijadihno'sbrash insertions as "heresies"or "rebellions"that assaultand dismember-"as in an execution" [como contra un pared6n] (1993:86)-the Western standardsin orderto reconfigurethe disjointedpieces into a new, hybridcompound. Thus, the "tension" in New World baroque art Lezama Lima speaksof rises from and cosmogonical confrontationsand resentthe many social, ethnic, cross-cultural, ments of the colonial experience; its "plutonism"is a way of reenacting, channeling, sublimating,and, in the end, expiating the destructiveviolence of the conquest, the encomienda (colonial form of labor tribute and distribution),the slave trade, and other modes of Western exploitation. Nevertheless, Lezama Lima confers a conciliatory capacityto this bold hybridity.In spite of its "tension"and its camouflagedmemorializing of violence, he insiststhat the New World baroque is an "art of the CounterConquest" (1993:80-81). Lezama Lima here both modifies and parodies Werner Weisbach'sfamousdiscussionof the baroqueas the "artof the Counter-Reformation" to, in Bhabha'swords, "estrangethe groundsof authority,the rules of recognition"of such imposing and canonical Old World definitions.LezamaLima postulatesthat the baroquein the New World has an invigoratinghealing capacitythat runsopposite to a decadent debilitation in the Old; its assertivehybridity seeks to lessen the psychic wounds of the conquest and bridge caste divisionsthrough a negotiation of cosrmologies in which the participationof "aliensymbols"is guaranteedin the Rousseau-like contract")(1993:104) suggestedby the increasinglyhar("egalitarian pactode igualdad monic cohabitationof disparate sign systemsin the hybrid construction.LezamaLima thus extricatesNew World baroque art from Weisbach's institutionalnotion of bastate- or church-guidedform of discourse.An "art roque aestheticsas a propagandistic, of Counter-Conquest" can only be fiercely antidogmatic, inclusive, and counterhegemonic. For Lezama Lima the most telling example in the plastic arts of this audacious insertionof alien signifiers into Europeanbaroquecosmology is Kondori'sfaqadeof the church of San Lorenzo in Potosi. LezamaLima learned about Kondori's work from Kelemen'sbook and basedhis poetic analysis the descriptionand picturefeaturedin on it (Kelemen 1951:190-191, plate 127, Figure a).20Kondori, says Lezama Lima, expressesthe New World will to hybridityby grafting"Incasymbols"into his composithe architectonic tion. Kondori'stemerityin San Lorenzolies in transmogrifjing classical motif of the caryatid-the anthropomorphiccolumn-into a sacred Inca princess, producing what Lezama Lima playfully calls the "Indiantid"(indidtide) (1993:83). In LezamaLima'sthinking, the structural presenceof such a pagan symbol within a rigid, conventional order of Catholic signifierssets the whole composition "on fire";when not excised or exorcised, it forces a hybrid, "plutonic"resemantizationof the whole


Folklore (1999) 112 Journal ofAmerican

system. Kondori's portal illustrates the conflagrative dismemberment and hybrid re-

composition the New World baroque art makes possible, for, like burning embers
floating in a slowly cooling volcanic magma, here "the scorched fragments [of brokendown cultures] push towards a new end" (Lezama Lima 1993:83). Lezama Lima's inspired pages on Kondori not only summarize well all the tenets of neobaroque theory but also show how the theorist tries to convey the "plutonism" of Kondori's baroque performance through his own excessive and dazzling prose style.21 Lezama Lima takes the presence of heretical signs in New World baroque art to be an American act of "temerity." He does not consider these inclusions of native signifiers as a guided form ofJesuit syncretism, as Octavio Paz does in his essay on Sor Juana (Paz 1988:34-43). They represent, rather, the dominated's will to survive and persist culturally. Lezama Lima's reinvention of the baroque as New World hybrid is thus indebted to the theory of "transculturation" postulated by his fellow countryman Fernando Ortiz in Cuban Counterpoint:Tobaccoand Sugar (1947).22 With "transculturation," Ortiz did not consider colonial contact between "advanced" European and "primitive" indigenous societies in America as a process of erasure of the "weak" and assimilation into the "strong"; looking at how Spanish colonists adopted taino (Caribbean indigenous peoples of Arawak descent) tobacco rituals and consumption that added an alien, "demoniac" dimension to their Catholic mores and behavior, Ortiz argues that so-called extinct cultures always survive by infecting and refashioning the symbols of the dominating culture (1947). This is what the New World transculturation of the baroque in Lezama Lima's theory allows: the survival of Otherness piggybacking on the unsuspecting signs of Empire. As Brett Levinson has argued, Lezama Lima's cultural thought does not cut off the New World baroque from its European sources but, rather, shows how the Western paradigm is itself replenished, transfigured, diversified, and, ultimately, constituted through the proliferating inscription of "alien" systems of meaning. Lezama Lima's "plutonic" theorizing of the hybrid shows how there is always an "other" within the "same" (Levinson 1996). The powerful appeal of Lezama Lima's conciliatory theory of culture in today's Cuba can be gauged by how the ideal of neobaroque hybridity is presented in a Cuban film as recent as 1993-Tomais Gutirrez Alea's Fresa y Chocolate ("Strawberry and Chocolate"). I interpret this film as the best sign of the resurgence of Lezama Lima's neobaroque thought and aesthetic among Cuban creative intellectuals since 1989. Senel Paz (1995), a young Cuban writer powerfully inspired by Lezama Lima's work and intellectual example, wrote the story and the script on which the film is based.23I will not dwell here on how I think the film systematically illustrates the principles of "tension," "plutonism," "temerity," and "egalitarian contract." Suffice it to say that the film's protagonists, David and Diego, hold most of their conversations while a picture of Lezama Lima mounted on the wall gazes on them and that the film's climax is a "Lezamian banquet" during which, after initiating David into a more inclusive concept of Cuban culture, Diego rewards him with a first edition of Lezama Lima's masterpiece novel and neobaroque treatise Paradiso(1974). I want to just briefly comment on the neobaroque hybridity figured in the space of la guarida, the foyer room where Diego, a white gay art promoter and photographer who is a creyente ("religious believer"), re-educates David, a prejudiced and provincial revolutionary becado ("scholarship

Salgado, New WorldBaroqueTheory


student") at the University of Havana who is also an aspiringwriter and a potential state informer. The walls and windows of the guaridaare heavily decoratedwith the ubiquitous, sinuously ornate metal grills that, in "The City of Columns," Carpentierconsidered emblematicof Havana'sbaroqueness(1987:43-45).24 Elaborately carvedcolonial wood frames,mirrors,and furniturearejuxtaposedwith avant-gardesculpturesof wounded saints, pictures of important literary and political figures in Cuban history, and an immense abstractexpressionistcanvas. In a corner there is a makeshift altar to the Virgin of Charity and other saints. The ceremonies held in this space reflect the remarkablesyncretismof the culturalobjects that crowd it. In Sevres rococo teacups, which Diego fancieswere once owned by an aristocratic 19th-centuryHavanafamily, and David drink tea and Cuban coffee. Using regularglasses,they make a toast Diego with a bottle of smuggled whisky but not before pouring some out as an ebb6,or for offering, to the orishas, Diego, as a creyente, is not a Roman Catholic but, like his friendNancy, an initiatein the Afro-Hispanicbeliefs of Santeria.The hybridizations of codes within this space are many:the rococo cups are Cubanized;the Anglo whisky is David, the straight,homophobic revolutionary,becomes more liberaland Africanized; tolerant regardinggay and other alternativecultureswithin Cuba; Diego, who ironically expresses some mock contempt for an alleged lack of polish and manners in the fashion.The extreme baroqueBlacks,addresses Virgin and saintsin Black Santeria ness of this role and sign switching is synthesizedin the way Diego playfullyaddresses his blue refrigeratoras rojo("red"). If this is indeed the space of the New World to baroque,where hegemonic signifiersare reversedand redefinedby being reassigned subaltern it is also LezamaLima'sspace of egalitarian opposed, signifieds, acceptance,of on the erotic as well as political sphere. Deceitful seduction, "Counter-Conquest" state-sponsoredpersecution and surveillance,class and sexual repression, and other of manifestations power aresuspended,while sexual,ideological, and ethnic differences are figurativelyand literallyembraced.It is the space for the conciliatorymerging of warring factions, for the abrazo("embrace")between David and Diego which concludes the film. This embrace does not represent,however, an ideal harmony or final integration-"plutonic" tensions still abound, exile is waiting, and wounds remain open. In the end, New World baroque theory is a poetic appealfor restitution.Neobaroque theoristsremind us that Europeanculture after the Renaissancewas the direct result of Western expansionismin the Americas, that, in the multiple forms of the baroque, Europe sent to the Americasthe symbolic capitalgeneratedfrom exploiting New World wealth and people. The neobaroque reversalmakes clear that both the materialand symbolic flow of the baroquemoved as much from Americato Europe as from Europe to America. In the 1966 novel Paradiso, arguablythe best example of neobaroque poetics in fiction, Lezama Lima took this reversal to an imaginative extreme when he had a characterspeculate that a Peruvian mestizo writer had a shapinginfluence on G6ngora'saestheticdoctrines (whose "pure"Europeancharacter stood as an indispensableaxiom in Menindez y Pelayo's argumentabout the nonhybrid, derivative characterof baroque poetry in Latin America). In chapter 9, the protagonistJose Cemi suggests that much of G6ngora's work should be read as if


Folklore (1999) 112 Journal American of

inspiredby the tales of Garcilasode la Vega el Inca, the mestizo author of the Royal Commentaries the Incas who lived in C6rdoba while G6ngora was writing the of

of the Soledades ("Solitudes"), emblematic masterpiece Hispanic baroque poetry.Says Cemi,

therearefrequent allusions Incajewels,but they [the Spanish In G6ngora to still philologists] haven't and the Inca Garcilaso time they were both in between G6ngora studiedthe relations duringthe in of that's delightfiiul the talestoldby the Incato a "Incas the imagination G6ngora," C6rdoba. topic: musthavearoused sensesof the great the aboutone of the greatepochsof the imagination G6ngora for at vast and of together prebends his metaphors thisquiver prebendary the momenthe wasgathering Lima1974:2391 darts. [Lezama

occursat the allegedly Old Here New Worldhybridization "pure," Worldorigin,

in and a mestizo participates the conception of what will become the most distinctive

Here we have,thus,a sign of and representative baroque. poem of the metropolitan

Lezama Lima's own neobaroque "temerity":his most utopian and certainlyhis most irreverentNew World gesture.

in are Cited. All translations thisarticle mine exceptwhen notedin References art see 'For a review of the uses of the termin European and literary history, Wellek 1978. For a mass as mode of state-and church-sponsored suggestion of discussion the baroque a European though 1942. see 1986 monumental aesthetics, Maravall andWeisbach and of 2Inthe aftermath WorldWarII, Horkheimer Adomo wrote on the costlysocialand political of and motivated fromhow the "disenchantment"religious mythical that by thinking consequences sprang and that totalitarianism created turna "mythof rationality" helped in the Enlightenment justifyWestern and in expansionism the nameof science,order, reason(see 1994). is comment fromBhabha's that well 3Onesentence illustrates thisinterpretative viewpoint the following The demandthat figuresat the centerof the originary myth of essay,"SignsTaken for Wonders": 'civil'discourse wherethe presence of in colonialist Western power"isrecognizable a surgeofjustificatory of laborand its of its the 'colony'often alienates own language libertyandreveals universalist concepts and as (1994:115-116). practices" ideological technological post-Enlightenment property particular, an foundin the Baroque avenuefor the writes,"The new American sensibility 4Gonzilez-Echevarria the and that is to say, the American.... Throughits capaciousness proliferation the different, strange, of Thisarticle owesmuchto Gonzilez-Echevarria's the inscribed American" analyses (1993:198). Baroque studiesthe I and aesthetic ideasof the writers discuss. the neobaroque Still,while Gonzilez-Echevarria as of modem recuperation the baroquetradition a way LatinAmerican poets, writers,and theorists as to this I for Romanticism, try to evaluate recuperation a response the compensate a weak Hispanic As andculture. the subtitle Latin American and ideals transform modernize to failure enlightened of society continuities Worldbaroque New World-Old of his 1993book underlines, Gonzilez-Echevarria highlights the hereI tryto stress ruptures. whereas andcorrespondences, the volumesthatanthologized poetryof eachLatin 5From 1893 on, Menendez Pelayoputout several y de in nation.He then collectedand revisedhis prologues Historia la poesfa American hispano-americana with y (1911).Amongotherthings,Menendez Pelayosoughtto invalidate his work whathe calledthe the leviedagainst Spanish and of "black conquistadors cruelty brutality legend,"the imputation genocidal An Latin and in and colonizers muchof Protestant postindependence American historiography. orthodox to sectsin Europe defendthe establishment of of who wrotea history the aberrations heterodox Catholic of and backwardness the Menendez Pelayobelievedthatthe cultural spiritual of the Spanish y Inquisition, It of the Spanish conquest. "civilizing enterprise" a providential justified providential peoples indigenous

Salgado, New WorldBaroqueTheory


followswhy Menendez Pelayoconcluded the influence the "impenetrable" that of traditions y indigenous on Spanish American those poetrywas null and that its historycould be told "disregarding altogether assumed (1911:viii). origins" on de see 6Forexpositions Barroco Indias, Henriquez Urefia1945:58-93, and 1971:70-128, Pic6nSalas of in Mexicothataptlysynthesizes 1948:71-118. a picture the baroque For theseideas,see Reyes period his the Leonard1959. Althoughthroughout careerReyes foughtfamously against "badtaste"stigma in attached G6ngora baroque to and collectionUltima Tule("TheLast writingin general, his 1942 essay like de that,exceptfor some brilliant Thule")he still proposed exceptions SorJuana,unprincipio retrodrove artistic and ("a activityin colonialMexico to adoptelementary principle") gradacidn retrograde ritualistic manifestations had already that become old and archaic Spain,especially theater(1991: in in much of the viceregal 242-243). Despitesympathetically assessing literary output in Mexico as pulcro wasjust as critical its superfluousness unevenquality, of and that, Reyes deserving"), ("dignified, arguing afterSorJuana, aesthetic the of "could Urefia onlyretrocede" (1948:105). promise the baroque Henriquez drew a more benignpictureof the cultural of He "flowering" the colonialworldin the 17th century. and the in arguedthat, despite"plentyof extravagant uselessproductions," colonieswere "fortunate the tradition" after a in (1945:84) it hadsuffered "tragic upholding baroque spiritual collapse" the peninsula this because alloweda "brilliancy" "refinement" and in worksnot to (1945:90) (1945:84) manyAmerican be foundin lateandpost-Hapsburg art.Still,Henriquez Urefiagranted the colonial that creative Spanish mindwas"cramped" inhibited and traditions prohibitions thatNew World and and (1945:90) European by art criollominority. Even the achievements New World in baroque was mostlythe workof a secluded which Henriquez Urefiabelieved"the highestcreativegiftswere dis"ultrabaroque" architecture--in to than to a mestizo"Indian played"(1945:91)--appear be due more to ingeniouscriolloinnovation in Thesedisapproving ambivalent or notionsof the colonial influence" his account (1945:91-93). baroque stillexercise greatdealof influence a aboutthe period arefaithfully and reflected analysis todayon cultural in a studyas recentandinfluential OctavioPaz's as book on SorJuana, in especially the firstfourchapters (1988:11-59). on Lima's 1957 "Lacuriosidad essays New Worldbaroque 7Someof the principal theoryare Lezama of barroca" 1964 de ("TheCuriosity the Baroque") (1993:79-106); Carpentier's "Problemaitica la actual novelalatinoamericana" of Latin ("Problems the Contemporary American Novel")(1987:7-28),1964"La ciudadde las columnas" ("The City of Columns")(1987:40-48),and 1975 "Lo barrocoy lo real maravilloso" and 1972 "Barroco ("The Baroqueand MagicalRealism")(1987:103-119); Sarduy's y neobarroco" and Neobaroque") and the essays collectedin Ensayos sobre ("Baroque (1972a) generales el Barroco on thosedealing with the transition Renaisfrom ("General Essays the Baroque") (1987),especially sanceto baroque suchas the 1974 "Barroco" 1986"Nuevainestabilidad" and cosmology, ("New Instabiltheorists addressed neobaroque also the debate and ity").TheseNew Worldbaroque implicitly explicitly in theirnovelsandfiction: Lima's 1966 Paradiso 1956 Lezama (1974),Carpentier's El acoso ("TheChase") and 1967 De donde los cantantes barroco (1956a)and 1974 Concierto son Concerto"), Sarduy's ("Baroque Cubawitha Song") 1972 Cobra and ("From (1972b). studied architecture wrote a history Cubanmusic;he also workedas a publicist, and of 8Carpentier cultural and in in countries EuropeandLatinAmerican. Aftermedical journalist, correspondent several wrotea dissertation European history Paris; on art in therehe studied with RolandBarthes studies, Sarduy andbecamepartof the Tel Quel group.Lezama Limaearned livingasa lawyer wrotea greatdeal his and of artcriticism; the of and to against hostility corrupt government agencies attempts co-opt him,he edited andpublished someof the mostimportant in independent literary journals Cuba-- Verbum (1937),Espuela deplata(1939-41),Nadie andthe prestigious devoted (1942-43), (1944-56).These Onrgenes journals parec'a to arts. information critical and aboutCarpentier and greatattention the plastic Forbiographical analyses see see 1977, collected Espinosa in Sarduy Gonzilez-Echevarria 1987.AboutLezama Lima, thetestimonies 1988. 1948. Ironically, his work,Toussaint, Mexican, in a 9SeeKelemen1951, Kubler1948, andToussaint does not give the sameattention hybridity do Kubler(American) Kelemen(Hungarian). to as and One of visionof differentiation New Worldbaroque in in typical expression Toussaint's appears hisintroduction to Artecolonial Mixico: de


Folklore112 (1999) Journalof American

After a passing reemergence of Herrerian style at the beginning of the 17th century, the American Baroque still imitated the Spanishmodel, but began to differentiateitself slowly, and by the end of the century and the beginning of the XVII, was totally divergent from its archetype. Thus the Mexican Baroque became the living and eternal example of a new country that had acquired a separatepersonality. [1948:xiii-xiv] and acknowlYet, although Toussaintmade a point of identifying the ethnic makeup of the native artisans edging the "soft,sad nuances"(1948:xiv) they filteredinto the artworkshe was able to document, he argued that this art mostly reflected the cosmopolitan interestsand growing affluence of the criollo class. In their books, Kelemen and Kubler appearto be more inquisitiveabout noncriollo creative input in buildingsand paintings,probablyas a result of having written studiesof pre-Columbiansculptureand architecturebefore of beginning their studiesof colonial religiousart. They thus were more attentiveto morphologicalsurvivals in indigenous art practices,techniques, and representations viceregalstructures. Lima calls American baroque "a triumph of the city" (1993:80) and analyzes the powerful o1Lezama aesthetic and semiotic effects densely "full" religious architecture(such as the Puebla, Mexico City, and exerted on the open, "empty" space of the colonial z6calo,or plaza (1993:100-103). In Havana cathedrals) "The City of Columns," Carpentiercomments how the mal trazado,or clumsy urban design, of colonial Havanastreets,profusionof colonnades, and frequentuse of tinted glasspanes on windows and doors were local ways of neobaroquely "bending" European standardsof public space into a shape that would minimize the oppressivetropicalsunlight and facilitatesociability(1987:40-48). 1Clifford writes, "It follows that ethnographicdiscourse ... works in this double manner. Though it portrays other selves as culturally constituted, it also fashions an identity authorized to represent, to interpret,even to believe-but always with some irony-the truthsof discrepantworlds" (1988:94). This slightly ironic self-authorizingis present in Kelemen's tone throughout his book. 12Kelemenoften laments the native's disregardfor the deteriorationof artifactsin the churches where they worship, but he always acknowledges that these are culturaland ritualbelongings that are not to be "claimed"by Europeans.Kelemen's descriptionof a Christ child sculpturein the remote Aymaravillage of Juli, Peru, is typical: They worship in colonial churches, within which a wealth of colonial art is disintegratingbecause of poverty and the lack of appreciation.But the Child Jesus, warmed by a native shawl such as any Aymara boy would wear, is well kept.... This Divine Child is of the people and through him they come nearer to the spirit of the distant God whom the white conquerors brought to their mountainous land. [1951:49] 13Thebook is dedicatedto "the millions of children,women and men who were torturedand murdered by nations posing as cultured and Christianin the greatestmassacrethe world has ever known" (Kelemen 1951). 14Fora discussion of the influence of Oswald Spengler'stheses about "the decline of the West" on Carpentier'swork and a penetrating reading of The Lost Steps, see Gonzilez-Echevarria 1977:52-61, 155-212. "1Kelemen writes, "The intermingling of Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance elements which occurred ... makes for a fascinatingmixture. The compound characterwhich resulted from this elastic applicationof stylespreparedthe way for the distinctiveBaroque and Rococo of LatinAmerica"(1951:20). in introducedhis idea of Third World urban"stylelessness" a section of the essay"Problems 16Carpentier of the ContemporaryLatin American Novel" (1987:12-14). '7A typical sentence from Kelemen reads, "Justas the tulip bulbs we brought from Holland produced within a few years a changed flower in our Florentine garden-as a result of different treatment, soil, sun--so the many elements of Baroque and Rococo which were brought over from Europe went through a fascinatingtransformation" (1951:viii). 18FollowingEugenio d'Ors, in the essay "The Baroque and MagicalRealism" Carpentierconsidersthe "complex" vegetation of the Americanjungle and tropicallandscapeas baroque elements (1987:116-118). Responding to Hegel's considerationof the New World purely as "geography"or "nature"and not as as history,LezamaLima writes about the New World paisaje("landscape") a form of immanent culture that had "dictated"protobaroqueforms of expressionsince and before Columbus (1993:74-78, 169-173).

Salgado, New WorldBaroqueTheory


190n Lezama Lima's of see annotations Lima manipulation thesesources, Irlemar (Lezama Chiampi's 1993:n. 79-81). 20Lezama takesnote of Kelemen's Lima observation manyscholars that the "as facade regarded church the culmination Hispano-America of art-the masterpiece the Andeanmestizostyle"(Kelemen of 1951: Lima's of is than Kelemen 109).Lezama interpretation thefapade's hybridity muchmoreradical Kelemen's. describes peculiar the in costumed" it Lezama caryatid the facade only asan "exotically figure; imagines as the representation a stately "Incaprincess." of Kelemenconsiders intermixing and that, carving sculpting Kondori his tactilesensefromthatof a European"; rather techniques, "approach[ed] taskwith a different than"tactile," Lezama Limadescribes Kondori's as "smoldering," if Kondori "burnt as had out"the style fromthe stoneor shaped themout of lavaor liquidmetal. figures Lima 21Lezama writes, In thebeautiful worksof the Indian Kondori cansee the insertion a temerity: indidtide. we of the Amidst the chubbylarval stonefoliage, Incaprincess an and hieratical luxurious, angels,the dangling emerges, with all her attributes powerandpride.In a closedtheological of worldstillsuffused with a Medieval, divinewrath,thissingleicon, thisaudacity the stoneforced chooseone amongmanysymbols, of to has on couldwalkin the procession amidst put all the elements fireso thatthe Incaprincess genuflections andreverences. [1993:83-84] He continues, In the copiousflow of baroque Kondorisuccessfully insertsthe Incasun and moon accumulations, elaborate abstract and of whosemitayo Indian facesexpress the symbols, pictures Incasirens, largeangels desolation work and exploitation the mines.Kondori's of in stone portals competein qualityand with Kondorihad studiedwith carethe plants,the proliferation the best of the European Baroque. and instruments his race,andwasconvinced they couldalsobe partof the of that animals, the metallic of in was of procession baroque symbols the temple.... Kondori the firstwho, in the domains form, asserted equality an the of that through manipulation an European style... in an exuberance equated the leaf the the [igualaba] American to the Greektrifolia, Inca half moon to Corinthian flourishes, to and instruments renaissance violins.[1993:103-104] charango doricmusical

221 wrotethe firstdraft thisarticle of beforethe release Levinson's of stimulated book;thus,although by its reading, cannothere developanddebatein fullLevinson's I treatment Lezama of Lima's provocative in of Gontheoryof culture thislandmark, book-length analysis "TheAmerican Expression." Although on the dialogue zalez-Echevarria betweenLezama Lima's (1984)andChiampi (1993)havewritten lucidly and Ortiz's aboutthe latter's commonuse of "counterpoint" to work,moreneedsto be done, especially structure cultural For of analyses. two more contemporary scholarly applications Ortiz'stransculturaci6n concept,see Pratt1992 andRama1982. 23For of Englishtranslations the film scriptand the shortstory,see Paz 1995. For a comprehensive reviewandbibliography articles the filmandits makers, Santi1998. In thisarticle, of on see Santi lucidly remarks the film's on of that me he promotion the topicof reconciliation concerns here,although considers it moreof an evasional "rhetoric" an efficacious than moral theme.Either Lima's way,Lezama neobaroque is clearly of amongthe mainsources thisrhetoric. front 24Besides andwindowfences,Carpentier discusses othermanifestations the elaborate two of metal that is particular Havana: guardavecinos to block balcony-to-balcony to the grillwork (used access)and The decoration features of ("lantern portafaroles hangers"). guarida's samples both theseitems.

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