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Revista Interamericana de Bibliografía (RIB)
Número: 1-4
Título: 1996
Sección: Reseñas Criticas / Critical Reviews

Jorge ROMÁN-LAGUNAS. The Chilean Novel. A Critical Study of Secondary Sources and a Bibliography. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1995. xvi, 561 p., bibliography.

Although bibliographic inventories on criticism of the Chilean novel have been appearing both in Chile and abroad since 1910, we now have what author Roman-Lagunas calls with pride, “In the Spanish American field...the first exhaustively completed bibliography of a national novel” (ix). Statistics drawn from the contents of his book show that such a pride is justified: some 9000 entries are compressed into the 560 pages of the compendium. It is not, however, solely a bibliographic catalogue.

The first 94 pages (parts I and II) analyze the existing bibliographies of the Chilean novel. Part III, “Secondary Sources on Chilean Novelists,” represents the core of the book, surveying critical studies and bibliographic secondary sources for 47 authors. For each author the inventory includes studies and lists that until 1987 had appeared in general bibliographies, books, American dissertations and thesis, Chilean memorias de grado (research by graduating students), monographic and non-monographic studies, book reviews, “Notes and References,” interviews, and entries in “Histories of Literature and Dictionaries.” All entries are arranged alphabetically by author.

The wealth of material, a chief characteristic of this work, can be better realized if we read statistics pertaining to a single author. In the case of, say, Luis Durand (whom I dare to call an average Chilean novelist), we can count (besides entries in standard bibliographies) one book about him, one dissertation, one thesis, five memorias de grado, 62 monographic and non-monographic studies, 133 book reviews, one interview, 45 mentions in histories of literature, and 69 entries in “Notes and References.” But there is more: a close examination of the list of sources cited reveals that even newspapers from minor Chilean towns were scoured and that journals from the United States, France, Germany, and the former Soviet Union were also consulted.

A remark about the selection of novelists: I myself have found a few favorite names missing (Lautaro Yankas-the Chilean indigenist, to mention one), but admittedly they could be called second-rate or unimportant writers. The 47 names selected will no doubt have the approval of the experts.

Although designed for a North American audience, this book can easily be put to use wherever the Chilean novel may attract scholars. For its completeness, and for having been painstakingly prepared to ensure maximum utility in research it has no competitors in Latin America.

Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.A.