Nicaragua

Renowned for its depth of feeling and musicality, the poetry of Rubén Darío (1867–1916) has been revered by writers including Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz. A leading figure in the movement known as modernismo, Darío created the modern Spanish lyric and permanently altered the course of Spanish poetry. Yet while his output has inspired a great deal of critical analysis and a scattering of translations, there has been, until now, no complete English translation of any of his books of poetry. This bilingual edition of Darío’s 1905 masterpiece, Cantos de vida y esperanza, fills a crucial gap in Hispanic and world literature studies. Will Derusha and Alberto Acereda have provided not only an elegant English translation of Darío’s work but also an authoritative version of the original Spanish text.

Written over the course of seven years and in many locales in Latin America and Europe, the poems in Cantos de vida y esperanza reflect both Darío’s anguished sense of modern life and his ecstatic visions of transcendence, freedom, and the transformative power of art. They reveal Darío’s familiarity with Spanish, French, and English literature and the wide range of his concerns—existential, religious, erotic, and socio-political. Derusha and Acereda’s translation renders Darío’s themes with meticulous clarity and captures the structural and acoustic dimensions of the poet’s language in all its rhythmic sonority. Their introduction places this singular poet—arguably the greatest to emerge from Latin America in modern literature—and his best and most widely known work in historical and literary context. An extensive glossary offers additional information, explaining terms related to modernismo, Hispanic history, mythological allusions, and artists and writers prominent at the turn of the last century.

Michel Gobat deftly interweaves political, economic, cultural, and diplomatic history to analyze the reactions of Nicaraguans to U.S. intervention in their country from the heyday of Manifest Destiny in the mid–nineteenth century through the U.S. occupation of 1912–33. Drawing on extensive research in Nicaraguan and U.S. archives, Gobat accounts for two seeming paradoxes that have long eluded historians of Latin America: that Nicaraguans so strongly embraced U.S. political, economic, and cultural forms to defend their own nationality against U.S. imposition and that the country’s wealthiest and most Americanized elites were transformed from leading supporters of U.S. imperial rule into some of its greatest opponents.

Gobat focuses primarily on the reactions of the elites to Americanization, because the power and identity of these Nicaraguans were the most significantly affected by U.S. imperial rule. He describes their adoption of aspects of “the American way of life” in the mid–nineteenth century as strategic rather than wholesale. Chronicling the U.S. occupation of 1912–33, he argues that the anti-American turn of Nicaragua’s most Americanized oligarchs stemmed largely from the efforts of U.S. bankers, marines, and missionaries to spread their own version of the American dream. In part, the oligarchs’ reversal reflected their anguish over the 1920s rise of Protestantism, the “modern woman,” and other “vices of modernity” emanating from the United States. But it also responded to the unintended ways that U.S. modernization efforts enabled peasants to weaken landlord power. Gobat demonstrates that the U.S. occupation so profoundly affected Nicaragua that it helped engender the Sandino Rebellion of 1927–33, the Somoza dictatorship of 1936–79, and the Sandinista Revolution of 1979–90.


The author of Legions of Rome and Cyrus the Great recounts how Cornelius Vanderbilt fought a war in Central America to protect his business.
 
When he died in 1877, Cornelius Vanderbilt, founder of the Vanderbilt dynasty, was wealthier than the U.S. Treasury. But he had nearly lost his fortune in 1856, when William Walker, a young rogue from Nashville, set out to conquer Central America and, in the process, take away Vanderbilt’s most profitable shipping business. To win back his empire, Vanderbilt had to win a bloody war involving seven countries.
 
Tycoon’s War tells the story of an epic imperialist duel—a violent battle of capitalist versus idealist, money versus ambition—and a monumental clash of egos that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans.
 
Written by a master storyteller, this incredible true story, impeccably researched and never before told in full, is packed with greed, intrigue, and some of the most hair-raising battle scenes ever written.
 
“A fascinating window into an era when the rules of industrial capitalism were in their infancy and gunboat diplomacy was standard operating procedure. . . . Reads . . . [like a] screenplay treatment for a hell of a movie.” —Wall Street Journal
 
“One incredible story of adventurism gone wild . . . blind ambition, the clash of wills, money, and conquest—all the elements of good story.” —Charleston Post and Courier
 
“The sheer drama of the story, ably conveyed by Dando-Collins’s efficient prose, sweeps the reader along through the misadventure.” —Providence Journal
Histories of revolutions often focus on military, political, or economic upheavals but sometimes neglect to connect these larger events to the daily lives of "ordinary" people. Yet the peoples' perception that "things are worse than before" can topple revolutionary governments, as shown by the recent defeat of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and the governments of Eastern Europe. Providing the kind of prosaic, revealing details that more formal histories have excluded, My Car in Managua offers an objective, often humorous description of the great difficulties and occasional pleasures of life in Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution.

During a year's work (1985-1986) at the Instituto Centroamericano de Administración de Empresas (INCAE), Forrest Colburn purchased a dilapidated car—and with it an introduction to everyday life in Nicaragua. His discoveries of the length of time required to register the car (approximately six weeks), the impossibility of finding spare parts (except when U.S. dollars were applied to the search), and the fact that "anyone getting into a car in Managua can be charged a small fee [for car watching] by anyone else" all suggest the difficulties most Nicaraguans faced living in a devastated economy.

Drawing on experiences from visits throughout the revolutionary period (1979-1989), Colburn also sheds light on how the Revolution affected social customs and language, gender roles and family relationships, equality and authority, the availability of goods and services, the status of ethnic minorities, and governmental and other institutions. Illustrations by Nicaragua's celebrated political cartoonist Róger Sánchez Flores enliven the lucid text.

Ernesto Cardenal and Sergio Ramírez are two of the most influential Latin American intellectuals of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Addressing Nicaragua's struggle for self-definition from divergent ethnic, religious, generational, political, and class backgrounds, they constructed distinct yet compatible visions of national history, anchored in a reappraisal of the early twentieth-century insurgent leader Augusto César Sandino. During the Sandinista Revolution of 1979-90, Cardenal, appointed Nicaragua's minister of culture, became one of the most provocative and internationally recognized figures of liberation theology, while Ramírez, a member of the revolutionary junta, and later elected vice-president of Nicaragua, emerged as an authoritative figure for third world nationalism. But before all else, the two were groundbreaking creative writers. Through a close reading of the works by Nicaragua's best-known and most prolific modern authors, Sandino's Nation studies the construction of Nicaraguan national identity during three distinct periods of the country’s recent history - before, during, and after the 1979-90 revolution. Stephen Henighan offers rigorous textual analyses of poems, memoirs, essays, and novels, interwoven with a sharply narrated history of Nicaragua. The only comprehensive study of the careers of Cardenal and Ramírez, Sandino's Nation is essential to understanding transformations to both Nicaragua and the role of the writer in Latin America.
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