Criticar es Amar:
Translation and Self-Criticism
It is not by chance that we are born in one place and not
another, but in order to give testimony.—Eliseo Diego, Por los
extraños pueblos, 1958
The world has expanded, the earth is not the center any
more. It turns among the infinite multitude of worlds like it.
—Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard and Pécuchet, 1881
as a stateless,
nonassimilating mi-
grant, a colonized and a linguistically marginalized translator, José
Martí elucidates an alternative to the modernity that serves im-
perial expansion. How does translation, rather than autonomy and
originality in the tradition of U.S. American renaissance writers,
become the means by which a migrant Latino writer elaborates an
alternative modernity? How do Martí’s inaugural experiments in
modernist form in the Americas articulate the perspective of this
journalist, poet, diplomat, and revolutionary born in Cuba, who
resided in New York in the 1880s and 1890s? Through the daily labor
of making translations of texts from English into Spanish and of
interpreting North American culture, Martí developed a literary
form adequate to capture the dynamic, sometimes shocking events
that he read about and observed firsthand in New York.∞
This for-
mal innovation merits more recognition in contemporary theoriz-
ing of American studies, of modernism in the Americas, and in the
genealogy of alternative American modernities.
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