No Short Journeys

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In pieces that are always perceptive and often surprising, Cecil Robinson examines the cultural interplay between North American and Mexico. In the first essay in the collection, for example, “The Fall of the ’Big House’ in the Literature of the Americas,” Robinson shows how the literature of the American South—best represented perhaps by William Faulkner’s ABSALOM, ABSALOM!—finds such striking parallels in the novels of Carlos Fuentes, Juan Rulfo, and other Mexican writers. Similar essays trace the relations between American writers and Mexican painters, describe American writers (such as Stephen Crane, Jack London, and Katherine Anne Porter) who lived in Mexico and the genuine role that Mexico played in the development of American modernism, chart the image of the Mexican in American literature and show how that image has been changing in the twentieth century, and help to rediscover American writers such as Charles M. Flandrau (VIVA MEXICO!, 1910) and Harvey Fergusson (FOLLOWERS OF THE SUN, and GRANT OF KINGDON, 1950) who earlier wrote on Mexico. The final essays analyze Chicano writers such as Miguel Mendez and Rudolfo Anaya and argue that a new borderlands culture is emerging, neither Chicano nor Anglo but a bicultural combination of both.

As Reed Way Dasenbrock asserts in his introduction to this valuable collection, Cecil Robinson may be overly optimistic about a bicultural borderlands, but as the leading expert on the culture of the American Southwest until his death in 1990, Robinson must be taken seriously in all that he has written.