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Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions

Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions

How literature affected political revolutions in three Central American countries.

January 1990
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272 pages | 6 x 9 |

“This book began in what seemed like a counterfactual intuition . . . that what had been happening in Nicaraguan poetry was essential to the victory of the Nicaraguan Revolution,” write John Beverley and Marc Zimmerman. “In our own postmodern North American culture, we are long past thinking of literature as mattering much at all in the ‘real’ world, so how could this be?” This study sets out to answer that question by showing how literature has been an agent of the revolutionary process in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

The book begins by discussing theory about the relationship between literature, ideology, and politics, and charts the development of a regional system of political poetry beginning in the late nineteenth century and culminating in late twentieth-century writers. In this context, Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua, Roque Dalton of El Salvador, and Otto René Castillo of Guatemala are among the poets who receive detailed attention.

  • Contents
  • Preface
  • 1. Literature, Ideology, and Hegemony
  • 2. Culture, Intellectuals, and Politics in Central America
  • 3. Nicaraguan Poetry from Darío to Cardenal
  • 4. Nicaraguan Poetry of the Insurrection and Reconstruction
  • 5. Salvadoran Revolutionary Poetry
  • 6. Guatemalan Revolutionary Poetry
  • 7. Testimonial Narrative
  • Bibliography
  • Index

John Beverley is Professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

Marc Zimmerman is Professor of World Cultures and Literatures at the University of Houston.


“This is a stimulating and important book on a subject that has been widely discussed in recent years, but rarely with the theoretical precision and wealth of detail displayed here. . . . A fine contribution to a fascinating area of literary and political practice.”
Bulletin of Latin American Research

“ . . . an absorbing and fascinating elucidation of the contribution of literature to revolutionary politics through the shaping of a revolutionary ideology.”
Donald C. Hodges, author of Intellectual Foundations of the Nicaraguan Revolution