University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Mentor: Alicia Quiróz Woodruff Assistant Professor, Spanish
The Past in Hispanic America: A look at selected works of Carlos Fuentes
The importance of the past in Hispanic America often times has been overlooked. As a result, many social problems have surfaced. This is not a recent problem for it has existed since the inception of Spanish influence in the American continents. This issue has been addressed by many Hispanic American thinkers and has been baptized by some as the "usable past." The "usable past" is a concept that states the following: Hispanic America must learn to understand and assimilate its past in order to better deal with its present, and in turn, with its future. This study focuses on showing how Carlos Fuentes, a Mexican author, applies the "usable past" to some of his works.
The processes used to unearth Fuentes' application of the "usable past" were, careful reading, analyzing, and reconstruction of material from four works: Distant Relations (1980), Latin America at War With the Past (1985), Brave New World (1990), and The Buried Mirror (1992). I also used secondary sources by Lois Parkinson Zamora, Margaret Sayers Peden, Raymond Leslie Williams, and Ana María Hernández de López.
In this study I have explored the basic ideas of the "usable past" as presented by Fuentes. Ultimately, this study sheds light on the importance of knowing the past, for by knowing the past, the present and the future become clearer, allowing space for a better way of life.