cover image The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World

The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World

Carlos Fuentes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $35 (399pp) ISBN 978-0-395-47978-0

Mexican novelist and statesman Fuentes believes that a common cultural heritage can help the countries of Latin America transcend disunity and fragmentation. In a splendidly illustrated survey, companion to a TV series, he perceptively explores Spanish America's love-hate relationship with Spain and its search for an identity in its multicultural roots. His guiding metaphor is the mirror--whether the glass found in Olmec tombs that guided the dead through the underworld, or Cervantes's Knight of the Mirror, who attempted to cure Don Quixote of madness. In the popular assemblies of medieval Spain's townships, Fuentes finds a model for democratic change in Latin American nations warped by oligarchy and U.S. imperialism. He paints a composite portrait of a dynamic culture through sophisticated meditations on Hernand Cortes's Machiavellian character, Spain's self-mutilating expulsion of its Jews, the pillage of Indian society, Goya and the Enlightenment, Bolivar's quest for self-rule, modern painting, and the Hispanic community in the U.S. 50,000 first printing; author tour. (Apr.)