Luis Leal: An Auto/Biography by Mario T. García

By Mario T. García

Professor Luis Leal is among the most eminent students of Mexican, Latin American, and Chicano literatures and the dean of Mexican American intellectuals within the usa. He used to be one of many first senior students to know the viability and value of Chicano literature, and, via his perceptive literary feedback, helped to legitimise it as a worthwhile box of analysis. His contributions to humanistic studying have introduced him many honours, together with Mexico's Aquila Azteca and the U.S.' nationwide Humanities Medal. during this testimonio, or oral historical past, Luis Leal displays upon his adolescence in Mexico, his highbrow formation at Northwestern collage and the college of Chicago, and his paintings and courses as a student on the collage of Illinois and the collage of California, Santa Barbara. via insightful questions, Mario Garcia attracts out the connections among literature and heritage which were a main concentration of Leal's paintings. He additionally elicits Leal's evaluation of the various well known writers he has recognized and studied, together with Mariano Azuela, William Faulkner, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Rulfo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Tomas Rivera, Rolando Hinojosa, Rudolfo Anaya, Elena Poniatowska, Sandra Cisneros, Richard Rodriguez, and Ana Castillo. Mario T. Garcia is Professor of historical past and Chicano reviews on the collage of California, Santa Barbara.

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No, but I had studied a little English from books. I could read some, but not converse in it. Was there any American influence in Linares? Not much, although the owner of the electric company was an Englishman. 14 l ui s l eal pg 14 # 14 Name /T1083/T1083_CH01 04/21/00 05:53AM Plate # 0-Composite pg 15 # 15 The Norten˜o Type MG: Before discussing your coming to the United States, I wanted to discuss, in relationship to your growing up in Linares, whether you think there is such a thing as a norten˜o type or a specific northern Mexican personality or character.

Yes. He was still a young poet then but already recognized as a major one. He had just published his Residencia en la tierra. Alonso had also just written a book on Neruda’s poetry. What was your reaction to Neruda’s poetry? I thought it was excellent. I especially was impressed with his new style of poetry. He could take any subject and turn it into a poetic image. Unlike Darı´o and the modernistas, whose images were crystal clear, Neruda produces images that need to be interpreted. His use of powerful topics, such as death, is also very significant.

The faculty in the college were separate from those in the division. I was hired to teach Spanish language in the college. Since class attendance wasn’t required, my students over a semester gradually disappeared. All they had to do was to pass the compre- 34 l ui s l eal pg 34 # 16 Name /T1083/T1083_CH02 04/21/00 05:59AM Plate # 0-Composite pg 35 # 17 hensive exam at the end of the semester. I remember that most who didn’t attend class in the end failed the exams. Was language, including Spanish, one of the requirements the students had to take?

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