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"In his last, indispensable book, the great Antonio Cornejo Polar takes readers on a fascinating journey through the plural worlds of Andean culture. This classic text, finally available in English, proves yet again why the author is widely considered a scholar who revolutionized Latin American literary criticism, providing an incisive interpretation of how Perú—and the rest of the continent—expresses itself with glorious complexity in its most significant works of the imagination."—Ariel Dorfman, author of Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile
"Writing in the Air marks the beginning of a major shift in the conception of Latin American literature and culture. Antonio Cornejo Polar questioned the implicit equation of modernity/modernization, transculturation, literature, and the formation of the modern Latin American nation-state. The incorporation by the current governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru of strong, multicultural elements is related to the cultural paradigm elaborated in Writing in the Air. Cornejo Polar's arguments remain fresh and suggestive, and they are done justice in this excellent translation."—John Beverley, author of Latinamericanism after 9/11
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Originally published in 1994, Writing in the Air is one of the most significant books of modern Latin American literary and cultural criticism. In this seminal work, the influential Latin American literary critic Antonio Cornejo Polar offers the most extended articulation of his efforts to displace notions of hybridity or "mestizaje" dominant in Latin American cultural studies with the concept of heterogeneity: the persistent interaction of cultural difference that cannot be resolved in synthesis. He reexamines encounters between Spanish and indigenous Andean cultural systems in the New World from the Conquest into the 1980s. Through innovative readings of narratives of conquest and liberation, homogenizing nineteenth- and twentieth-century discourses, and contemporary Andean literature, he rejects the dominance of the written word over oral literature. Cornejo Polar decenters literature as the primary marker of Latin American cultural identity, emphasizing instead the interlacing of multiple narratives that generates the heterogeneity of contemporary Latin American culture.