Biography •  Literature and Southwest

$39.95 paperback

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The Life and Writing of Fray Angélico Chávez: A New Mexico Renaissance Man

Ellen McCracken

Winner of the Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association

As a teenager, Manuel Chávez (1910–1996) left his native New Mexico for over a decade of study at the St. Francis Seraphic Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, and other midwestern institutions. Included in his curriculum was an introduction to literature and the arts that piqued an interest that would follow him the remainder of his life. Upon returning to New Mexico, he was ordained Fray Angélico Chávez and would become one of New Mexico's most important twentieth-century writers.

In The Life and Writing of Fray Angélico Chávez, Ellen McCracken provides a literary biography that includes a deep look into the intellectual and cultural contributions of this Renaissance man. McCracken moves chronologically through a substantial body of work that includes fiction, poetry, plays, essays, spiritual tracts, sermons, historical writing, translation, painting, church renovation, and journalism.

From the prolific creativity of the years of his first assignment in Peña Blanca to the decades he spent researching Hispano genealogy in New Mexico, McCracken traces Chávez's complex and changing identity as an ethnic American and religious subject who was also an historian, artist, creative writer, and preservationist. The year 2010 will mark the centenary of Fray Angélico Chávez's birth, and this volume will serve as a fitting tribute.

Part of the Pasó por Aquí Series on the Nuevomexicano Literary Heritage


Ellen McCracken is a professor of Spanish at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is also the author of New Latina Narrative: The Feminine Space of Postmodern Ethnicity and Decoding Women's Magazines: From Mademoiselle to Ms.


" informed and informative literary biography....A 460-page compendium of information and commentary on a remarkable and memorable literary figure, as well as a model of painstaking scholarship, The Life and Writing of Fray Angélico Chávez: A New Mexico Renaissance Man is strongly endorsed as an invaluable addition to academic library 20th Century American Literary History reference collections in general, and Fray Angélico Chávez literary studies reading lists in particular."


Midwest Book Review

"Author Ellen McCracken has written an excellent account of the life and writings of one of New Mexico's best, but least known, authors....McCracken has created a scholarly, yet easy to read, volume chock full of interesting true life accounts about this respected writer....this one is a page turner for the serious student of New Mexico history and literary traditions."


Taos News

"McCracken's book proves to be a valuable contribution for Latino studies scholars interested in literary studies as well as for historians interested in Hispano identity in New Mexico."


H-Net Reviews

"Chávez would certainly appreciate and perhaps envy the archival labors of McCracken in crafting this centennial celebration."


Southwestern Historical Quarterly

6 x 9 in. 472 pages 48 halftones