This book offers a collection of 24 Hispanic short stories by both male and female authors. Containing an introduction to the Short Story in both English and Spanish, this collection includes a variety of selections that were chosen for their content, style, and cultural contexts. All selections in this anthology, written by authors from Spain, Cuba, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Mexico, Chile, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Colombia, and the United States, demonstrate the common themes of social hierarchy, the power of the imagination, human psychology, gender issues, justice, destiny, and the supernatural. For readers who are interested in looking comparatively at Spanish short stories.
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El cuento: Arte y análisis uses the Hispanic short story to introduce students to the critical skills needed for reading literature in Spanish and for understanding the multiple contexts implicit in every work. Designed for the fourth semester and beyond, this unique approach uses repetition, reinforcement, and a variety of pre- and post-reading exercises to aid in the comprehension of the stories and to promote active participation in the analytical process. The goal is to facilitate reading through practical and critical exercises and classroom discussion. These steps will supplement the literary selections with opportunities for vocabulary building, writing, oral comprehension, and speaking.Features
Edward H. Friedman is professor of Spanish and comparative literature at Vanderbilt University.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
EL CUENTO: ARTE Y ANÁLISIS has a number of objectives. The key elements of the text are short stories by twenty-four Hispanic writers. The stories represent over a hundred years of storytelling in sixteen countries, including the United States. Fifteen of the writers are men; nine are women. Some, such as Rubén Darío, Miguel de Unamuno, and Jorge Luis Borges, are literary giants. The talents of others, while abundant, are less well known. Certain writers, including Borges, are recognized primarily as specialists in the short story, while others are most renowned for their work in different genres (Darío in poetry, Unamuno in the novel and philosophical essay, for example). The stories collected here cover a broad range of topics and multiple ways of looking at the world. Exposure to literature is synonymous with exposure to language, to culture, to artistic design, and to human thought and behavior. The stories can instruct, stir emotions, and entertain, and they can serve as tools for developing expertise in reading, writing, speaking, and critical analysis.
The book is designed for students in fourth- or fifth-semester college Spanish courses and above. The method of presentation involves a series of stages aimed at facilitating the reading and analysis of the short stories. The approach uses repetition, reinforcement, and a variety of exercises (both pre-reading and post-reading) to aid in the comprehension of the stories and to promote active participation in the analytical process. The order of the stories is guided by degree of difficulty, but each selection, together with its corresponding exercises, is self-contained.
The introduction, in English, focuses on the process of analyzing narrative works, with special attention to the short story. This section describes the structure of the short story: the act of narrating, forms of expression, organization of materials, message systems, endings, irony, and so forth. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on the role of the author, the narrator, the characters, the reader, and the commentator or critic. The introduction offers a general background for the reading, analysis, and discussion of the stories in the anthology. The concepts treated here are intended to open the field of inquiry and to foster informed, creative, and independent thinking. Literary analysis should stem from solid preparation but should never be mechanical. Texts should "speak" to individual readers, who combine acquired skills with their own imaginative and critical gifts.
The introduction, "The Short Story: Art and Analysis," is followed by a section entitled "Vocabulario y conceptos bá The purpose of this section is to provide a basic vocabulary in Spanish for the discussion of the short stories and to reemphasize a number of elements from the introduction. "Vocabulario y conceptos bá is divided into three sections: a general survey, a list of major terms, and vocabulary notes. Each of the two opening sections contains a review exercise. There follows a brief section called "De camino," a list of general elements that one can consider when reading the short stories.
The anthology of short stories includes the following format:
To the Instructor
EL CUENTO: ARTE Y ANÁLISIS contains twenty-five short stories arranged (naturally in somewhat subjective terms) in order of difficulty. Individual instructors may choose to modify the order and to eliminate some of the selections. Readers of the stories will find certain recurrent themes: class structure, the role of women in society, the distinction between the real and the imaginary, coping with problems great and small, power and control (and lack thereof), and, perhaps the most common topic of all, idiosyncrasies of human behavior. The particular way in which a story is narrated and the creation of a unique discourse are also factors that will affect the reader's comprehension of a given text. The critical tools presented in the book emphasize the correlation between plot, language, and message systems, and call on the reader to pay strict attention to who is narrating, how the narrator organizes the information to be imparted, and how markers within the texts can aid in the analytical process. There are two key guiding principles at work here. One is that repetition and reinforcement can be effective, and the second is that solid preparation of the material by students outside of class will allow for profitable discussions in the class sessions. The brief author biography and the "Consideraciones preliminares" sections, as well as the extensive glossing, should enable students to read and comprehend the stories. The four exercise sections encourage students to look closely at the texts and to reflect upon their vocabulary, content, and significance. In preparing the exercises, the students will look at (1) language, (2) plot, (3) specific narrative devices and the comprehensive structure of the story, and (4) debatable topics and larger issues posed by the story, but these elements hardly are mutually exclusive. The point here is to stress their interrelation and to let students learn a great deal about each story prior to the class session in which it will be discussed. If all goes according to plan, students will come to class armed with ideas and with questions, and their role will be active rather than passive, critical rather than quiescent. The student should be able to read the stories with little or no dependence on a dictionary, but the reading process and the preparation of the exercises (whether they all are assigned and what is to be written out is up to the instructor, of course) will take time. The energy expended beforehand—reading, going back to the text to find vocabulary, reviewing the plot, thinking about the style, structure, point of view, tone, and themes of the stories—should be valuable in analytical and linguistic terms, and should help lead to class sessions that are lively and productive. All the exercises following the readings are entirely in Spanish, which can be the exclusive language for class discussion and further writing assignments. The book aims to give students practice in reading fiction and to direct them toward understanding important critical concepts; At the same time, it aims to increase their knowledge and appreciation of the Spanish language and Hispanic culture.
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