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Uncovering a literary treasury.

A recent find unearthed rare copies of an early modernist magazine, Revista de America. Photocopies of the first three issues of this magazine bring to light a valuable body of Latin American literature from the turn of the century. Revista de America was published in 1894 by renowned Nicaraguan writer Ruben Dario and Bolivian man of letters Ricardo Jaimes Freyre.

Ruben Dario (1867-1916), the most influential voice in the modernist movement who would transform Latin American literature at the end of the last century, was named Consul from Colombia to Argentina in 1893. There he met the Bolivian poet Ricardo Jaimes Freyre (1872-1933), known for his use of Germanic themes and his vivid descriptions of Nordic landscapes. Together with other poets, they formed the Revista de America, described by Dario as "the organ of our nascent intellectual revolution."

Dario and Freyre were able to publish only three issues, due to financial problems and a general lack of acceptance on the part of the public, which was not yet ready for the new kind of writing. Yet, Revista de America became an important instrument for the dissemination of modernist concepts and inspired many limitations. From one end of Latin America to the other young poets were soon publishing literary magazines, initiating an explosion of experimentation and creativity. Among the best were La revista azul, published in Mexico; Cosmopolis, published in Caracas; and Pluma i Lapiz, from Santiago de Chile. All of these magazines were shortlived. However, they paved the way for more enduring publications, among them El Cojo Ilustrado, from Caracas, and Revista Moderna, from Mexico, which became two of the most prominent literary magazines of the turn of the century.

Because the Revista de America had such a limited run, copies of the issues soon became bibliographical treasures. Researchers looking for material on Dario and the development of modernism were faced with a vexatious obstacle since they were unable to consult this key publication. In 1966, after an extensive investigation, Boyd G. Carter, a professor at the University of Missouri and one of the foremost authorities on modernism, finally located copies of the three issues of the Revista de America in Santiago de Chile. Dr. Alamiro de Avila Martel, director of the Libraries of the University of Chile, photocopied the material for Professor Carter and authorized him to reproduce it in order to make it available to other scholars.

During its early stages modernism tended to disassociate itself from the Spanish tradition and seek inspiration in the French Parnassians and symbolists. The modernists also looked to North American writers, such as Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe. They rejected the commonplace, finding pleasure in the exotic. Antiquity, the Bible, the Orient, and the Nordic countries all stimulate the poet's imagination. Modernism produced a new stylistic awareness seeking to capture the essence of the word.

In spite of modernism's close attachment to nineteenth-century French and North American writing, Dario and Freyre conceived of Revista de America as a distinctly Latin American publication that would foment a new World approach to literature. Their objective was to free art from Spanish literary conventions and cliches. Although many modernists, including Dario, later accepted and sought inspiration from Spanish culture, the intent of modernism was to create an art that was not only innovative and aesthetically pure, but also unique. The new artistic vision would set the spanish American writer apart from the European while creating a sense of unity among American artists.

Dario clarifies these ideas in the list of objectives that appear on the first page of the first issue of Revista de America: "To be the organ of the new generation that professes in America the cult of pure Art, and desires and seeks ideal perfection. To be the link that makes the American idea of universal artistic communion united and strong."

In December 1991 Ambassador Jose Antonio Tijerino, Permanent Representative to the OAS from Nicaragua, sent the reproduction of the magazine to OAS Ambassador from Bolivia Mario Rolon Anaya. Ambassador Rolon Anaya, in turn, made this document available to Americas because he feels that in many ways the OAS magazine carries on Dario's ideals of Latin American cultural unity.

The document contains the three issues of the magazine, along with Professor Carter's introduction and a vivid description of his search for the copies. In addition to Dario's famous objectives, the document includes samples of his poetry and prose, as well as two chapters of El anarquista by Julian Martel, stories by Ricardo Jaimes Freyre, writings on Paris by Miguel E. Pardo and other places by writers who would later become important in the modernist movement.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:'Revista de America' magazine
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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