Prologue to the second Spanish edition
This book was written out of the absolutist idea that the critical imagina-
tion is purely verbal. Therefore it is deployed in a series of words that are
set in motion through contact with another, sonorous, verbal universe,
that of the gaucho genre, whose substance is the relation between heard
voices and written words. The writers of the genre used the positions and
tones of the gaucho’s voice in order to write the genre, and in that same
moment gave the gaucho his voice. “Use” and “gift”—the words that or-
ganize The Gaucho Genre.
In this book written in two voices, words turn into concepts, make con-
tact with each other, refer to each other, split each other, and trace chains,
bands, rings, montages, goings, and returnings. The net of words in mo-
tion constitutes something like a verbal apparatus for reading what wants
to be read in the gaucho genre: the forms taken by the relations between
the oral and the written, and the space of the alliance or the ring, the place
where they unite. “Use” and “gift” therefore appear as notions with two
sides or two meanings and are subject to a perpetual splitting. The two
sides of the use of the gaucho: the literary use of the voice and the eco-
nomic or military use of bodies. And the two sides of the gift or master:
the writer who gives the gaucho his voice and the boss or superior.1
dual logic of language (which dominates the verbal matter of this book
and which functions on two levels of “reality”: the literary reality of the
genre and “the other reality”) seeks to represent the relation between pop-
ular and learned culture in the gaucho genre.
In a certain sense, in the perpetual splitting of this book, another genre,
or gender, may also be read: the feminine. One of the formulas of the
genre’s verbal world is: “in the voice of the gaucho the word ‘gaucho’ is
In New Haven, years after the publication of The Gaucho Genre, want-
ing to insert myself somehow in a Latin American critical tradition, I
imagined that the verbal apparatus for reading the gaucho genre could
also function in other regions where texts had been written that placed
1. [Don in Spanish can mean either gift or master; see chap. 1, n. 58. Trans.]
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