31 December 2010

Book: The City of Translation: Poetry and Ideology in Nineteenth-Century Colombia

José María Rodríguez García, "The City of Translation: Poetry and Ideology in Nineteenth-Century Colombia" (Palgrave Macmillan, August 2010):


Publisher's description: "The two principal questions that The City of Translation sets out to answer are: how did poetry, philology, catechesis, and literary translation legitimate a coterie of right-wing literati's [sic] rise to power in Colombia? And how did these men proceed to dismantle a long-standing liberal-democratic state without derogating basic constitutional freedoms? To answer those questions, José María Rodríguez García investigates the emergence, development, and decline of what he calls 'the reactionary city of translation' – a variation on, and a correction to, Ángel Rama's understanding of the nineteenth-century 'lettered city' as a primarily liberal and modernizing project. The City of Translation makes the tropes of 'translatio' the conceptual nucleus of a comprehensive analysis that cuts across academic disciplines, ranging from political philosophy and the history of concepts to the relationship of literature to religious doctrine and the law."

The last chapter of the book is titled "Conclusion: On Lettered Cities, Political Theologies, and the Writing of Lyric".

Endorsements: "Few books deserve to be described as necessary. This one does. Rodríguez García brings remarkable rigor and insight to his examination of the nineteenth-century debates that defined the first decades of the Colombian republic. Particularly significant are his penetrating reconstructions of conservative thought, a much neglected area since 'progressive' historians often seem more interested in finding antecedents for their own ideas rather than taking seriously the arguments of Catholic imbued anti-liberalism. He also brings remarkable insight to the ways that notions of proper grammatical usage and belle-lettriste literature were early marshaled to support conservative, hierarchical notions of society and government. In sum, this is an excellent book and a major contribution to nineteenth-century studies." (Nicolas Shumway, Rice University)

"The City of Translation elucidates the complex strategies of the reactionary Colombian political elite to usher in new legislation under the guise of a homogenizing national project. The author's keen insights on the pivotal role of lyrical production, translation (in theory and practice), and the mediating agency of the translator/lyricist in political objectives constitute an outstanding contribution to Latin American intellectual history, one that will compel us to expand our understanding of the term 'foundational fictions.'" (Carlos J. Alonso, Columbia University)

Spanish-born José María Rodríguez García is Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Duke University.

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