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Maria de las Nieves Robledo: El senador megicano o carta de Lermin a Tlaucolde.

Maria de las Nieves Robledo. El senador megicano o carta de Lermin a Tlaucolde. Ed. Nancy Vogeley. Madrid/Frankfurt: Iberoamericana / Vervuert / Bonilla Artigas, 2014.

With her edition of Maria de las Nieves Robledo's 1836 epistolary novel, El senador megicano o carta de Eermin a Tlaucolde, Nancy Vogeley, author of Lizardi and the Birth of the Novel in Spanish America (2003) and The Bookrunner: A History of Inter-American Relations. Print, Politics, and Commerce in the United States and Mexico (2011), makes another significant contribution to our understanding of early nineteenth-century transatlantic culture. She rightly points out in her introduction that this work is a "rareza de la imaginacion femenina" (7) overlooked by scholars of Spanish and Mexican literature and published at a time when few original novels in Spanish, especially those authored by women, saw the light of day. Vogeley presents the work as a formal tour de force in which the author--"[m]ujer, aristocrata, espanola-americana" (8)--creates a masculine narrative voice to present a tale of frustrated love set against the background of Mexican politics during the early years of its independence from Spain. Count Lermin recounts in a letter to a Mexican friend exiled in France his political and sentimental travails in Mexico and later in exile, struggles that mirrored the political divide in Spain. While Robledo claims in her prologue that women readers will be entertained and instructed by her work, she adopts the letter format to avoid the stigma of calling her work a "novel" and uses a masculine narrative voice to comment on the tumultuous political situation of her day. Like her narrator Lermin, Robledo was forced to leave Mexico when the new government expelled the Spanish elite in 1828-29. Published in 1836 by the Colegio de Sordo-Mudos in Madrid, which was founded in 1805 by the the Sociedad Economica de Amigos del Pais, the novel also presents intriguing evidence for the history of the book and the history of reading.

Vogeley divides her informative introduction into five sections: the identity of Robledo; the role of the publishing house in Madrid; the portrait of 1830's Mexico and Spain presented in the novel; the novel's formal and thematic innovations; and the potential reading public. Robledo, born in Guatemala, was from a distinguished family of Spaniards living in Mexico. She represents the class of aristocratic emigres who identified not only with Spain but also with a cosmopolitan, international elite that assimilated relatively easily to life in exile. Robledo's admiring evocation of Mexican scenery and society offers a unique, transatlantic perspective that does not adhere to traditional definitions of the realist or costumbrista national novel, which may account for the relative oblivion into which the novel fell. Vogeley asserts that Robledo represents "otro tipo de novelista espanol, quien no buscaba su inspiracion en localismos nacionales y regionales, ni en historias burguesas y campestres, sino en experiencias y preocupaciones internacionales propias de una clase aristocratica" (15). Robledo's representation of scenes and events in Mexico echo events in Spain. Factions in Mexico were divided by class, with the Spanish-supporting nobility and rich landowners opposing the lower classes who resented the former colonial privileges, while in Spain moderates and conservatives quarreled over the succession to the throne, the power and property of the Church, and Spain's relation to its former colony. Due to her transatlantic perspective, Robledo resisted the Spanish tendency to dehumanize the indigenous population.

Catherine M. Jaffe

Texas State University, San Marco
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Title Annotation:texto en ingles
Author:Jaffe, Catherine M.
Publication:Dieciocho: Hispanic Enlightenment
Article Type:Resena de libro
Date:Sep 22, 2015
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