Chronology of the Venezuelan Novel
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 30 July 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0143
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 30 July 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0143
This article covers some of the main authors, trends, and themes of the Venezuelan novel from the 19th to the 21st century. In general, Venezuelan literature has been underread and understudied with only a handful of authors translated into other languages. Authors such as Rómulo Gallegos, Arturo Uslar Pietri, Teresa de la Parra, Salvador Garmendia, and Miguel Otero Silva, among others, have created invaluable contributions to the Latin American literary world, and are well known beyond the country’s borders. Also, a good number of novelists including the aforementioned Gallegos, Uslar Pietri, and Otero Silva, but also Meneses, Britto García, González León, Romero, and more recently, Massiani, Torres, and Barrera Tyszka, to name a few, have won national and international literary awards and recognitions. Reading national literature is slowly sparking the interest of the general Venezuelan population as well as international audiences with the use of online platforms, social media, e-book publishers, and other web-based and virtual technologies. Most categorizations found in anthologies or literary histories take into account broader literary movements and trends such as romanticism, realism, naturalism, criollismo, modernism, and the vanguards. A great majority of these works discuss narrative in general (novel, short story, and some include essays and theater as well) and only a few focus solely on the novel; on particular authors such as de la Parra, Gallegos, or Otero Silva; or overarching themes. The latter include the regional and ethnic focus of the vanguards rather than the cosmopolitan perspective present in other Latin American authors; the transition of an agrarian economy to an oil-dependent one; guerrilla narratives during the 1960s; the disenchantment brought about by the “crash” of the economy in the late 1980s; and more recently, the political polarization during the late Hugo Chávez’s regime, issues related to urban violence, exile, racism, and gender. Several studies—journal articles or anthologies—focus on a specific author, time period, or region, rather than give a panoramic history of the novel.
As mentioned in the introduction, most works do not focus on the novel, but on literature in general—with separate sections for fiction, poetry, essays, and, in some cases, theater—or address specific authors, themes, or tendencies. This section includes the most complete overviews published between the 1990s and 2000s. Márquez Rodríguez 1991 and Rivas 2004 explore the historical novel and analyze the fictionalization of history in the works of some of the most representative male and female authors, connecting them to a broader Latin American context as well as to authors from Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, among other countries. Barrera Linares, et al. 2006 provides a wide variety of essays on Venezuelan literature and culture from colonial times to the early 21st century, offering a recent and very up-to-date perspective of literary and cultural critique in the country. Kohut 2004 compiles a series of essays, formerly presented at a conference, that address various issues in Venezuelan literature, including publishers and literature’s relation to politics and market trends. Medina and Becco 1993 establishes continuity between themes and aesthetic tendencies in different authors, constructing a historiography of Venezuelan literature, while Delprat 2002 focuses on specific authors and themes that connect Venezuelan literature to the rest of Latin America. Hidalgo de Jesús 1996, on the other hand, explores the notion of modernity and underlines the importance of de la Parra in the construction of a female perspective in Venezuelan literature. Pantin and Torres 2003 deals with literature written by women, establishing a chronology of different works that challenge the status quo and reaffirm the need to include many of these women in other anthologies as well as in the Venezuelan literary canon.
Barrera Linares, Luis, Beatriz González Stephan, and Carlos Pacheco, eds. Nación y Literatura: Itinerarios de la palabra escrita en la cultura venezolana. Caracas, Venezuela: Fundación Bigott, Banesco and Equinoccio, 2006.
A comprehensive anthology that compiles a wide array of essays by well-known and emerging scholars and writers that explore in depth the richness of Venezuelan culture from colonial times to the early 21st century. It Includes several sections on literature that cover narrative, essay, and poetry, and also film, political discourse, and technology.
Delprat, Francois. Venezuela narrada. Mérida, Venezuela: El Otro, el Mismo, 2002.
A compilation of essays by established scholars on different aspects of Venezuelan literature (narrative, essay, and poetry), including the work of Uslar Pietri, de la Parra, and Trejo. Some of the themes include mestizo identity and race, literature from the 1960s, and modernism, to name a few.
Hidalgo de Jesús, Amarilis. La novela moderna en Venezuela. New York, Berlin, Frankfurt, and Paris: Peter Lang, 1996.
A detailed study of the works of some of the main Venezuelan novelists (Otero Silva, Gallegos, Palacios, de la Parra), as well as trends up to the 1980s and 1990s. The author discusses the evolution of literature written by women, which started with de la Parra and became stronger toward the end of the 20th century.
Kohut, Karl, ed. Literatura venezolana hoy: Historia nacional y presente urbano. Caracas, Venezuela: Universidad Central de Venezuela, 2004.
A compilation of essays by renowned scholars who approach the topic of Venezuelan literature from diverse historical, critical, and theoretical perspectives. There is one section dedicated to narrative, which explores the works of writers such as Guillermo Meneses, Salvador Garmendia, and Gabriel Jiménez Emán, among others.
Márquez Rodríguez, Alexis. Historia y ficción en la novela venezolana. Caracas, Venezuela: Monte Ávila Editores, 1991.
The author discusses and contextualizes the historical novel in Venezuela, addressing some of the main authors and their works and underlining the relationship between history and literature, as well as the space that Venezuelan literature occupies in a broader Latin American context.
Medina, José Ramón, and Horacio Jorge Becco. Noventa años de literatura venezolana (1900–1990). Caracas, Venezuela: Monte Ávila Editores, 1993.
One of the most comprehensive and informative histories of Venezuelan literature, which includes a chronology and a very complete bibliography, as well as an author index. The book was published for the first time in 1969 and subsequently edited and republished with new facts and analytical perspectives about Venezuelan literary developments.
Pantin, Yolanda, and Ana Teresa Torres, eds. El hilo de la voz: Antología de escritoras venezolanas del siglo XX. Caracas, Venezuela: Fundación Polar, 2003.
A most necessary compilation on the topic of Venezuelan female writers of the 20th century. Included essays cover poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as an outstanding introduction where the editors underline the relatively little visibility of female Venezuelan writers and connect their works to some of the main literary trends.
Rivas, Luz Marina. La novela intrahistórica: Tres miradas femeninas de la historia venezolana. Mérida, Venezuela: El Otro, el Mismo, 2004.
A detailed analysis of the works of three of the main female narrators in the country: Ana Teresa Torres, Laura Antillano, and Milagros Mata Gil. The author discusses the difference between official history and history told from the perspective of underrepresented groups—women in this case—explaining how this perspective is represented in the works of the aforementioned authors.
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