El Estrecho Dudoso = The Doubtful Strait

Ernesto Cardenal, Author, John Lyons, Translator, Tamara R. Williams, Translator Indiana University Press $29.95 (189p) ISBN 978-0-253-31318-8
Cardenal (Zero Hour) has made history both as a poet and a spokesman for liberation, abstracting universals from the experience of Nicaragua, his country, which resonate even on these jaded shores. This, his latest book in English, ably rendered by Lyons, traverses the familiar stretch of politics and literature using the epic as directly adapted from Pound. Through the epic's inclusivity, Cardenal tells the story of the conquest of Central America from Columbus's ``discovery'' to the present day. For the ``true'' history of the region, Cardenal mines a host of primary texts with the synthesizing eye of a polemicist and a scholar: Casas's History of the Indies, Diaz's History of the Conquest of New Spain, and others. Cardenal writes across the ``desired strait'' that is the phantom objective of colonialism, and later, imperialism. But this poetic history is History by extension; Central America, like Homer's Greece, is an analogue for all the world. Finally, Cardenal appropriates the role of bard; his purpose is to write truly, because, as one of his personae memorably relates, ``graceful composition is the telling of the truth.'' (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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