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“En híbrida mezcolanza”: Exile and Anxiety in Alirio Díaz Guerra’s Lucas Guevara

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Chapter Summary

The novel Lucas Guevara by the Colombian exile, Alirio Díaz Guerra, was first published in New York in 1914, and is considered to be the earliest novel about Latin American immigration to the USA written in Spanish. A second edition was published in 2001 along with a critical-biographical introduction, which presents the novel as the precursor of a developing genre of US Latino/a immigrant literature centered on the naïve Latin American migrant who arrives in the USA inspired by the opportunities supposedly afforded by the metropolis, but who nevertheless suffers a series of misfortunes arising from an inability to adapt to the new culture. On the level of overt content, the novel is a lachrymose, stereotypical and conventional denunciation of the supposed evils of an amoral US society and the libertine and materialistic values underpinning it. But on a deeper level, a picture emerges of Díaz Guerra himself as a displaced, disenchanted intellectual exile who has suffered an acute cultural and class anxiety in the transition from a patrician Arcadia to the heart of capitalist, industrial modernity. The novel also provides an occasion to contrast how Díaz Guerra deals with the condition of exile, in contrast to that most emblematic of Latin American political refugees, the Cuban José Martí.



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