A Manual for Manuel by Julio Cortazar

By Julio Cortazar

His first political novel.

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This method affords Tannenbaum a closer understanding of his object of study and at the same time distances him from it. To the extent that he recognizes the relative unimportance of intellectuals (understood to be urban figures) as historical actors, Tannenbaum is obliged to focus his analysis on the reality of the peasant world. But insofar as the logic of this argument disregards the potential for peasant thought, there is no possibility of comprehending popular rebellions on their own terms.

Before dying, Solís condenses into two words what he calls “the psychology of our race”: “Robbery! ” (81; original emphasis). Solís considers the Mexican peasant to be flawed for reasons of racial heritage. The underdogs’ innate propensity for violence is symptomatic of the problem. Lacking the ideals that might mitigate what is presumed to be a congenital defect, the peasant is condemned to thwart the positive labors of the revolution. 21 As events unfold, Solís’s judgment about the masses’ propensity to steal and murder is explicitly played out in the second and third parts of the novel.

On the other, the government’s literary policy of encouraging writers to deal with themes that promoted social awareness fostered, ironically, the production of Villista narratives at a time when his legacy was being silenced in the world of official politics. Class and culture played a significant role in the shaping of Villa’s image. Writers and journalists were mostly of urban, middle-class background. ” 27 There were, of course, exceptions (as we shall see), but the norm was to concentrate—for purposes of dramatic effect— on the violent aspects of his personality.

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