Sunday, October 5, 2014

Quiz with Chamara Sumanapala. Part 22: Latin American Literature

Latin America spans a vast territory from Mexico down to the lowest tip of South America. These nations share a roughly common history during the last five centuries, which saw a sequence of events; European conquest, subjugation of local people, colonial rule, independence and the reassertion of the native people. Many countries were former colonies of Spain and Brazil was a former colony of Portugal. Therefore, these two languages are widely spoken in Latin America and the literature is also mainly in those languages.

Pre-Columbian (before Columbus landed in the New World) people in Latin America had a lot of oral traditions and little written literature. Therefore, it is only after the European conquest that written literature was introduced. Towards the latter part of the 19th century, a distinctly Latin American literature took shape.
Pablo Neruda

1. Early Latin American writers were philosophers and political commentators. One such person wrote a criticism of the Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas from exile in 1845. Titled Facundo, it first appeared on a newspaper in Chile and was published as a book only in 1851. This work established the writer as a leading political commenter. He was an educationalist too. In 1868, he became the seventh president of Argentina. Who was he?

2. In late 19th century, the poetic movement known in Spanish language as modernismo (modernism) was born in Latin America. This was the first literary movement in the region which had an impact on literature of other regions as well. The first work of this style was Azul, by Ruben Dario. Born in 1867, he died at the relatively young age of 49. Azul was published when he was just 21. Dario’s birthplace was a town called Metapa, about 90 km from the capital city of his country. Today, the city has been named Ciudad Dario (Dario City). In which country was Dario born?

3. In 1945, a Chilean poet became the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. She is still the only female Latin American to have been awarded the prize. Born Lucia Godoy Alcayaga, she was best known by her pen name. What was the pen name of this poet?

4. Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, also known as Gabo, was one of the proponents of the Latin American literary boom of the 1960s. His “Cien anos de Soledad” (One Hundred Years of Solitude) was one major influence on it. Other writers associated with this boom were Argentinian writer Julio Cortazar, Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes and a Peruvian writer. This writer, who is now 78 years old, started his career as a left-wing writer but ended up being a conservative. He even ran for the presidency in Peru in 1990, but was defeated by a virtual newcomer to Peruvian politics with part Japanese ancestry, Alberto Fujimori. In 2010, this writer received the Nobel Prize in Literature, the last Latin American to be awarded the prize as of now. Who is he?

5. The 1973 military coup in Chile had a devastating impact on the country’s most famous poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda died a few days after the coup. A few years before, he gave an interview to a female journalist when he is said to have advised her that her imagination was too good to be a mere journalist. Following the coup, she fled the country and heeded the advice of the great man. In 1982, her first novel “The House of Spirits” became a best seller. She followed magical realism in some of her notable works. Who is she?

Answers to Quiz 21: Football World Cup 1958-62

1. Manchester United
2. Wales
3. Just Fontaine
4. Carlos Dittborn
5. Italy

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