A Latin American Existentialist Ethos

Modern Mexican Literature and Philosophy

Stephanie Merrin

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft


With their emphasis on freedom and engagement, European existentialisms offered Latin Americans transformative frameworks for thinking and writing about their own locales. In taking up these frameworks, Latin Americans endowed them with a distinctive ethos, a turn towards questions of identity and ethics. Stephanie Merrim situates major literary and philosophical works—by the existentialist Grupo Hiperión, Rosario Castellanos, Octavio Paz, José Revueltas, Juan Rulfo, and Rodolfo Usigli—within this dynamic context. Collectively, their writings manifest an existentialist ethos attuned to the matters most alive and pressing in their specific situations—matters linked to gender, Indigeneity, the Mexican Revolution, and post-Revolution politics. That each of these writers orchestrates a unique center of gravity renders Mexican existentialist literature an always shifting, always passionate adventure. A Latin American Existentialist Ethos takes readers on this adventure, conveying the passions of its subjects lucidly and vibrantly. It is at once a detailed portrait of twentieth-century Mexican existentialism and an expansive look at Latin American literary existentialism in relation—and opposition—to its European counterparts.