Novelist, scholar, journalist, statesman, and leading member of Chile's "Generation of 1842"--an intellectual movement so named for the founding of the National University--José Victorino Lastarria (1811-1888) lived his life at the forefront of nineteenth-century Chilean and Spanish American culture, literature, and politics. Recuerdos Literarios (or Literary Memoirs) is his masterpiece, encompassing the candid memories of a tireless activist, both the creative and critical sensibilities of an influential Latin American early modernist, and an eyewitness account of the development of Chilean literature and historiography. An ardent, eloquent participant in every defining artistic and ideological debate in Chile during the formative mid-1800s, Lastarria recorded his epoch as closely as he did his own origins, education, ambitions, and career. Sometimes reminiscent of Montaigne's essays, Eça de Quieroz's journalism, or Barbusse's didactic convictions, Literary Memoirs is an engrossing account of Chile's newly ordained nationhood.
This addition to Oxford's prestigious Library of Latin America series is more than a retelling of things past; it is an informed yet informal testament to the idea of chilenidad (or "Chileanness") and a detailed portrait of one of Chile's cultural architects. For this new edition of Literary Memoirs, Frederick M. Nunn's introduction presents an informative historical background and R. Kelly Washbourne's translation carefully preserves Lastarria's form and content.