Incomparable Empires

Modernism and the Translation of Spanish and American Literature

Gayle Rogers

Columbia University Press

Incomparable Empires

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Pub Date: December 2018

ISBN: 9780231178570

312 Pages

Format: Paperback

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Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231178563

312 Pages

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Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9780231542982

312 Pages

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Incomparable Empires

Modernism and the Translation of Spanish and American Literature

Gayle Rogers

Columbia University Press

The Spanish-American War of 1898 seems to mark a turning point in both geopolitical and literary histories. The victorious American empire ascended and began its cultural domination of the globe in the twentieth century, while the once-mighty Spanish empire declined and became a minor state in the world republic of letters. But what if this narrative relies on several faulty assumptions, and what if key modernist figures in both America and Spain radically rewrote these histories at a foundational moment of modern literary studies?

Following networks of American and Spanish writers, translators, and movements, Gayle Rogers uncovers the arguments that forged the politics and aesthetics of modernism. He revisits the role of empire—from its institutions to its cognitive effects—in shaping a nation's literature and culture. Ranging from universities to comparative practices, from Ezra Pound's failed ambitions as a Hispanist to Juan Ramón Jiménez's multilingual maps of modernismo, Rogers illuminates modernists' profound engagements with the formative dynamics of exceptionalist American and Spanish literary studies. He reads the provocative, often counterintuitive arguments of John Dos Passos, who held that "American literature" could only flourish if the expanding U.S. empire collapsed like Spain's did. And he also details both a controversial theorization of a Harlem–Havana–Madrid nexus for black modernist writing and Ernest Hemingway's unorthodox development of a version of cubist Spanglish in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Bringing together revisionary literary historiography and rich textual analyses, Rogers offers a striking account of why foreign literatures mattered so much to two dramatically changing countries at a pivotal moment in history.
Gayle Rogers develops a complex and nuanced literary history of political, institutional, and aesthetic transformations through translation across two empires. Incomparable Empires is an immense achievement for global and comparative modernist studies. Joshua L. Miller, author of Accented America: The Cultural Politics of Multilingual Modernism
By de-coupling their translational practices from the national literary traditions and imperial teleologies they were supposed to express and reflect, the writers analyzed in Incomparable Empires carved out creative spaces that radically reconfigured U.S. and Spanish literatures. Rogers's brilliantly contextualized recovery of their alternative stratagems of translation promises to foster a grand scale re-thinking of the formation, structure, and purposes of our extant comparative literary histories of the early twentieth century. Donald E. Pease, author of The New American Exceptionalism
Taking the Jamesonian view of imperialism in unexpected and original directions, Rogers explores the rivalry of the Spanish and U.S. empires at the intersection of modernism and translation. This volume achieves what one would have thought possible only from several books, namely writing a new history of two fields traditionally considered to be unrelated: Hispanism and American studies. César Domínguez, coauthor of Introducing Comparative Literature: New Trends and Applications
A groundbreaking contribution to such transnational fields as global modernism and world literature studies. Alejandro Mejías-López, author of The Inverted Conquest: The Myth of Modernity and the Transatlantic Onset of Modernism
Rogers has written a superlative examination of modernismo's cultural and literary production. . . . Essential. CHOICE
Rogers’s book, published in Jessica Berman and Paul Saint-Amour’s relatively recent and already excellent Modernist Latitudes series at Columbia University Press, constitutes an important intervention in the reshaping of modernist studies. . . . Rogers should be lauded due to the extreme coherence, timeliness, and significance of his project, especially considering the uneven status of Spanish literature of this period within Anglophone academia today. Ignacio Infante, Modernism/modernity
The historian will find in this work a novel perspective on the relationship between Spain and the United States post-1898; students of Hispanic and American literature will benefit from an in-depth analysis of how these two empires influenced each other and shaped their canons; and translation scholars will delight in further proof that translation and its history provides crucial insight into the way cultures have understood, and continue to understand, each other. Owen Harrington Fernández, Literature and Translation
Rogers uses a compelling combination of first-rate historical scholarship and forensic close reading to probe much more deeply into the imbrications of US and Spanish modernisms. Peter Hulme, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies
Bursting at the seams with innovative insights, Incomparable Empires will make readers think in new ways about modernism, translation, and the often-neglected ties between North American and Spanish literature. José Luis Venegas, Hispanófila
Incomparable Empires is a brilliant work of comparative criticism, animated by contemporary critical concerns, and it is erected on a solid foundation of research and erudition. It also provides a wealth of information, and its clear, jargon-free prose makes it accessible to a wide range of readers. Gustavo Pellón, MLN
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Modernism, Translation, and the Fields of Literary History
Part I. American Modernism's Hispanists
1. "Splintered Staves": Pound, Comparative Literature, and the Translation of Spanish Literary History
2. Restaging the Disaster: Dos Passos, Empire, and Literature After the Spanish-American War
Part II. Spain's American Translations
3. Jiménez, Modernism/o, and the Languages of Comparative Modernist Studies
4. Unamuno, Nativism, and the Politics of the Vernacular; or, On the Authenticity of Translation
Part III. New Genealogies
5. Negro and Negro: Translating American Blackness in the Shadows of the Spanish Empire
6. "Spanish Is a Language Tu": Hemingway's Cubist Spanglish and Its Legacies
Conclusion: Worlds Between Languages—the Spanglish Quixote
Notes
Index

Read the introduction, "Modernism, Translation, and the Fields of Literary History":

About the Author

Gayle Rogers is professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Modernism and the New Spain: Britain, Cosmopolitan Europe, and Literary History (2012) and coauthor, with Sean Latham, of Modernism: Evolution of an Idea (2015).