This book illuminates colonial Latin American literary studies in an entirely new way. Rolena Adorno argues that the incandescent nucleus of the Spanish American literary tradition consists of the writings in which the rights of Spanish dominion in the Americas were debated. She investigates the works of Spanish and Amerindian writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, shows how the narrative web they created had the capacity to reinvent itself, and explores how their literary legacy resonates even today. The book considers how canonical colonial-era writers engaged with issues of conquest and the treatment of Amerindians, situating the writings of Bartolome de las Casas at the heart of the discussion. Adorno traces the elaboration and persistence of colonial debates cast in narrative form to arrive at a new understanding of the "polemics of possession" and their crucial role in the history of Latin American literature and thought.
Rolena Adorno is Reuben Post Halleck Professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University. She is author or editor of several books in the field of colonial Spanish American writing, among them her co-authored, award-winning Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca: His Account, His Life, and the Expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.