The introduction to this collection of Iván A. Schulman’s essays outlines his basic interpretation of modernism in Latin American literature. Briefly stated, the general thesis is that modernism cannot be limited to any one generation, such as that of Martí or Darío, because its renovating thrust in matters of language, style, and thought extends into the present day as a fundamental concern or attitude in creative art and literature. As he acknowledges, this interpretation has been well documented by several major literary critics, among whom are Federico de Onís, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Manuel Pedro González, Max Henríquez Ureña, and Ricardo Gullón.

As the title of the work indicates, however, the seven essays reproduced here focus on the genesis of modernism. Schulman seeks to establish that this literary movement was initiated by Jose Martí, Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, José Asunción Silva, and Julián del Casal in the years 1875-1882. Schulman’s concern is to justify the claim that these men were not the precursors of the modernist movement but its founders, and that in Rubén Darío one finds a pulling together of the tendencies and artistic emphases characterizing the works of these founders.

To give added strength to his interpretation, Sehulman might have provided a more extensive analysis of Darío ’s works and thus clarified his role as synthesist and elaborator rather than founder. Such a procedure would have shown wherein Darío ’s poetry and other writings brought new emphases to Latin American literature and wherein he developed tendencies already present in the four mentioned writers. It would have provided, also, more adequate grounds for delineating the basic structures of modernist literature, which seems to be a recurring need.

Sehulman’s descriptive analysis gives primary attention to Martí and Gutiérrez Nájera. It is perceptive and thorough in working through matters of historical antecedence, relationships to European authors, the use of colors, metaphors, images, and contrasting comparisons. Nevertheless, one might have hoped for some comment on the literary effectiveness of the stylistic and conceptual innovations of these early modernist authors.