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Revista Interamericana de Bibliografía (RIB)
Número: 1-4
Título: 1996

In interviews and university conferences, William Faulkner stated that the ultimate goal of a writer is to reduce the essence of human existence into a simple oration.  This example is just one of many which illustrates the desire of man, throughout the times, to achieve the essential through brevity, cohesion, reduction or synthesis of expression.  In cultural history, a singular curve expresses today that which in the past was confusingly evoked by a hundred entangled curves.  The search for simplicity has been an incessant quest which has encountered many pitfalls throughout its journey, as the artist has had to begin from the vast and always changing unknown.

The publication of this special edition of the RIB dedicated to the micro-story is due to the persistent enthusiasm of David Lagmanovich.  Since the decade of the 80s, Lagmanovich -as part of his close ties to the old Regional Program for Cultural Development- hailed the growing presence of a form of literary expression whose characteristics were based on a minimal narrative structure and whose length ranged from one line to more than one page.  The well-known master, Luis Leal, was one of the first people to draw attention to these narrative forms when he remarked upon Juan José Arreola’s Confabulario Total.    Leal stated that some pieces, “are already pointing towards a new genre, the mini story, which is in style today among young storytellers” [Historia del cuento hispanoamericano, 2a edición ampliada (México: de Andrea, 1971) 115].  Other names which were later given to the genre were: very brief story, short story, micro-story or mini-fiction.  The themes of the stories emphasize satires, works of fantasy, along with the recreation of historical, literary and mythological motifs. To achieve these minimal compositions, finished forms of imagination and talent, some critics indicate that this type of micro-story demands advanced narrative skill and linguistic dexterity to reach the highest level of verbal concentration and economy.

It would be ingenuous to think that this longing to form artistic impressions through the reduction of components has exclusively occurred in literature.  In its temporal variable, the quest for the origins of this movement takes us to China, India, Japan and Persia where they searched for forms which reach a high level of communicative concentration, conferring on their artistic manifestations such a decisive accent, and a resolve to separate themselves from materialism in order to create a spirituality that is briefer, more essential, more expressive and more measured.  A great wealth of popular narrative flowed into the Middle Ages from the Orient, pushed by a strong oral tradition, and molded into diverse literary traditions (apólogos, castigos, enxiemplos, estorias, fablas, fabiellas, fábulas, hazañas y proverbios), all precursors of the modern “story.”  As regards their spatial location, these micro-texts have been employed by authors from many different latitudes, interpolating them into essays, novels and all types of narratives as is the case of Hesiodo, Plato, Rabelais, Boccacio, Cervantes, Tolstoy, Kafka, and Faulkner.

In the search to find the relationship between the different short narrative forms and their Eastern antecedents, the phenomenon of reason -which consists of stretching form- has been confused with the phenomenon of instinct -which tends to idealize form. This idealization does not deform the object, but rather, it straightens and completes it  in order to extract the human essence at its most general, most pure and richest in hope.  The stylization adopts it, systematizing the characteristics almost constantly presented by the studied form.  The artist has seen that all of these forms, gestures and structures preserve the dominant characteristics which define them in our memory, and when emphasized by schematic procedures, are applied to decoration with perfect exactitude.  It is precisely because of its ability to stylize the world around it that oriental art continues to be the most intellectual, if not the most philosophical of our languages.

The goal of the present volume is to explore a variety of topics related to this narrative form within the Hispano-American sphere.  An advanced tradition of the micro-story does not exist in all countries.  Perhaps, those countries where this tradition is most evident are Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela, which take the micro-story to the point in which they constitute autonomous projects, as is the case of such authors as, Arreola, Jorge Luís Borges, Julio Cortázar and  Marco Denevi.  The reader will find that in many of the articles it is possible to establish different moments and stages in which this literary form -present in the works of the aforementioned writers- appears in the current work of Augusto Monterroso, the imagination of Gabriel Jiménez Emán, the possible universes of Luís Britto García and the limitless creativity of Ana María Shua, just to mention a few.

At the suggestion of the writer Mempo Giardinelli, professor Juan Armando Epple acted as guest editor of this issue, providing us with invaluable assistance in coordinating the different works which we present today to the reading public.  Time and space constraints kept us from including the bibliographical index of the almost utopian Colombian “magazine” Ekuóreo.  By the close of this edition, the editors (Guillermo Bustamante Zamudio and Harold Kremer) had rediscovered for the RIB the enthusiastic writings of Francisco Noguerol.  Bustamante and Zamudio generously sent us the complete works of the aforementioned author.  It was also not possible to complete the bibliography of the Argentina magazine Puro Cuento, edited by M. Giardinello and founded by Graciela Tomassini and Stella Maris Colombo.  Both tasks will be taken up in a future issue.  This introduction would not be complete without the  RIB’s  recognition of  all of those people, who in one form or another, put at our disposal their studies, works, research and suggestions.  To all of them we give our sincere thanks.

The Editors