Mark Twain on Spain
The Department of Comparative Literature cordially invites you to a lecture by
Mark Twain barely set foot in Spain. He did not know Spanish. But that did not mean that he didn’t have his views. In the nineteenth-century United States, Spain was a silent sine qua non for historical-cultural interpretations of the meaning of America. To U.S. authors, the history of Spain, whether in the Western hemisphere or on the Iberian Peninsula, could have been unfamiliar, but it was not ignored, particularly thanks to the well-assimilated, dark interpretation of Spanish history known as “The Black Legend.” Twain contemplated De Soto’s 1540s discovery of the Mississippi River, and he offered strong opinions on the folly of the U.S. resolution of the Spanish American War of 1898. But like most writers of merit, he cared more about literature than history or current events. It has been argued that Twain was deeply influenced by the first modern novel, Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quijote de la Mancha. He has frequently been called “the American Cervantes.” Should we take such claims seriously? If so, in what ways?
About the Lecturer: Rolena Adorno is the Sterling Professor of Spanish and Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University. Her area of research is Colonial Latin American literature, and her most recent books include Colonial Latin American Literature: A Very Short Introduction (2011), De Guancane a Macondo: estudios de literatura hispanoamericana (2008), and The Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative (2007), which was awarded the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize from the Modern Language Association. In addition to ongoing research on El Barroco de Indias, she is at work on a book on the development of U.S. cultural and literary interests in Spain and Latin America during the nineteenth century, including Mark Twain’s reflections on the Spanish New World. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and serves on the National Council on the Humanities.
Light refreshments will be served after the lecture. If you have a disability and need assistance, accommodations can be made to meet most needs. Please call 855-7070 or 855-5083.