On these trips, he taught, spoke about his work, and commented on race relations in the US.
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On a number of occasions, he promoted the achievements of the US-cultural and otherwise Lee once called him an eloquent "interpreter of democracy"2 -in nations where there was significant anti-Americanism, and often helped to lessen hostility towards the States. In , Faulkner traveled to an international writer's conference in Brazil, stopping in Peru and Venezuela on the way; he visited Venezuela again in as part of efforts to improve US-Venezuelan relations see Blotner and In both cases as with all his other travels he was initially reluctant to go-due to his insecurities, his dislike of travel, not wanting to forego the foxhunting season, etc.
Eventually, though, he was convinced by Lee's appeals to his patriotism and her belief that the trips would be "an important contribution to inter-American cultural relations. As Lee wrote after Faulkner's first trip: "Here at Washington we are still a little dazed and dazzled by the extraordinary achievement of the Embassy at Lima in making a complete Public-Relations success of the brief visit of one of the world's most illustrious, most withdrawn, and least loquacious novelists, William Faulkner.
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Even before the Cuban Revolution of , Latin America had begun to experience a surge in leftist activism that brought it into conflict repeatedly with the US, which was, of course, firmly under the sway of Cold War politics at this point. The US had long supported repressive regimes and neocolonial enterprises such as the United Fruit Company in Latin America, and had toppled those regimes whose politics leaned too far to the left as was the case in the UFC coup in Guatemala in The McCarran Walter Act of , which was used to restrict visas on ideological grounds, and which prevented authors with socialist sympathies such as Fuentes, Garcia Marquez, Pablo Neruda, and others from entering the US, and, later, the Alliance for Progress generated much additional hostility in Latin America towards the US.
An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. Del Greco then contacted the people suggested to him, asking them to judge the competition for the best novel from their nation if they were under 25  or to suggest people whom they thought would be appropriate. Each panel was to read all the possible novels from their nation and agree upon the best by the end of ;  copies of the prizewinning novels were to be sent to del Greco for the next stage of the competition. While, remarkably for these times, correspondence traveled quite quickly within the U.
It was not until February of that prizewinning novels from fourteen different nations—of the twenty originally included in the competition  —were announced. The best-known of these today, in both Latin America and the U.
Except for the latter novel, none of these works were ever translated into English. The results of the competition were broadcast throughout the U. The Project then entered its next phase: the selection of the best novel overall from amongst those already chosen. The committee in charge of this stage was based at the University of Virginia: the judges included six doctoral students and two assistant professors from the university as part of the desire to respect the age limit as much as possible ;  del Greco was an ex-officio member; and several other Spanish and Spanish American critics were consulted.
In the meantime, I would like to discuss how the Cold War cultural politics that Lawrence Schwartz identifies behind the promotion of Faulkner and his work in the U. This transformation formed part of a Cold War cultural project wherein formalist aesthetics and the avant-garde displaced the realism of the prewar years, and critics condemned the representation of politics in literature However, the competition took place against the backdrop of the Cold War, for U.
The authors honored with a visit to our University and possibly other places in our land would pay dividends in long lasting good-will [sic]. However, politics did play a key role in the selection process for the Cuban novel. I agree that it would be better if the novel chosen were by an author who was not working closely with the government. Ultimately, this exchange was as ironic as it was interesting, for it need never have happened: Knopf had actually published The Lost Steps in , to positive reviews and disappointingly poor sales.
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Had del Greco known this, he could have easily disqualified the novel on these grounds and avoided the debate altogether. While perhaps this outcome was not preordained, it did not go unnoticed by Linton Massey, then president of the Faulkner Foundation. After the first stage of the competition was completed, Massey wrote to Edgar Shannon, then president of the University of Virginia, commending del Greco for his work. The inability of the Project to accomplish its goals was not due to any lack of effort or goodwill on the part of participants: del Greco worked tirelessly coordinating the competition, publicity, and trying to match the award winning novels with publishers; the judges saw themselves as promoting the work of their compatriots, both in general and in the U.
Interest in Latin American literature in the U.
In this respect, the Project was extremely timely, and should have been well positioned to capitalize on the resulting surge in translation of Latin American works in the United States. Additionally, publishers were expected to contact prizewinning authors and their publishers directly in order to arrange publication of works in English. Organization, however, accounts for only part of the outcome. There is also, I believe, a lesson to be learned in the heartbreaking odyssey of Cumboto , the novel voted best overall, towards translation.
Soon after it received the second honor, the University of Virginia Press and Knopf considered it for publication; eventually, both rejected it. Over the next few years, del Greco offered the manuscript to more than twenty publishers MSS , box 3.
Others simply declined claiming that it would be difficult to find a market for it in the States. He stated that he was well acquainted with. In August of the following year, however, Wardlaw inexplicably consented to review the novel again—perhaps convinced by the subsidy—and in early , he authorized its translation and publication.
Cumboto was one of five finalists for the National Book Award for translation that year, but is out of print today. None of the editors whom del Greco contacted about Cumboto indicated why they felt the novel would not be of interest to readers in the U. The novels that were published were, in contrast, at least marked—if not defined—by a more experimental style and world view; while these, too, addressed local issues, settings, and history, I would speculate that their questioning of reality, use of modern and urban settings, and treatment of themes such as dictatorship were seen by publishers as more appealing to the sensibilities of a broader audience.
These qualities and themes, additionally, dovetailed with those exhibited in the work of the young Boom authors who, ironically, did not—other than Donoso—even compete in the Project, which began just before they wrote the works that shot them into the international spotlight.
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The success of the Boom writers in the early s both paved the way for the publication of other Latin American works and, in turn, was facilitated by the publicity surrounding the Faulkner Prize. Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography , volume 2. Cohn, Deborah. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, Suzanne Jones and Sharon Monteith. Del Greco, Arnold. Schwartz, Lawrence H.
MSS , box 1.