13 halftones

America Unbound

Encyclopedic Literature and Hemispheric Studies
By Antonio Barrenechea



This original contribution to hemispheric American literary studies comprises readings of three important novels from Mexico, Canada, and the United States: Carlos Fuentes’s Terra Nostra, Quebecois writer Jacques Poulin’s Volkswagen Blues, and Native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead. The encyclopedic novel has particular generic characteristics that serve these writers as a vehicle for the reincorporation of hemispheric histories. Starting with an examination of Moby-Dick as precursor, Barrenechea shows how this narrative genre allows Fuentes, Poulin, and Silko to reflect the interconnected world of today, as well as to dramatize indigenous and colonial values in their narratives. His close attention to written documents, visual representations, and oral traditions in these encyclopedic novels sheds light on their comparative cultural relations and the New World from pole to pole. This study amplifies the scope of “America” across cultures and languages, time and tradition.

Contributor Bios
Antonio Barrenechea is an associate professor of English at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He lives in Washington, DC.