A Crit­ic’s Journey

  • Review
By – August 25, 2011
A promi­nent Latin Amer­i­can crit­ic and the author or edi­tor of more than 30 books, includ­ing two nov­els, Ilan Sta­vans is pro­fes­sor of Latin Amer­i­can and Lati­no cul­ture at Amherst Col­lege. Born in Mex­i­co to Russ­ian immi­grant par­ents, he came to New York in 1985 and now lives in New Eng­land. He began life speak­ing Yid­dish and now writes in Eng­lish, with Span­ish and Hebrew speak­ing inter­vals along the way. This poly­glot, poly­cul­tur­al back­ground gives Sta­vans a broad base and a var­ied view­point, as this col­lec­tion of essays demon­strates.

Stavans’s Mex­i­can-Jew­ish back­ground gives him a sen­si­tiv­i­ty to the anti-Semi­tism of Latin Amer­i­cans, most of whom have nev­er met or seen a Jew. In His­pan­ic Anti-Semi­tism” and The Holo­caust in Latin Amer­i­ca” Sta­vans offers an insight­ful expla­na­tion of the deep-root­ed ori­gins of this phe­nom­e­non. But Sta­van­s’s inter­ests take him far beyond Latin Amer­i­ca. Pop­u­lar cul­ture, clas­sic Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture, per­son­al rec­ol­lec­tions — this Critic’s Jour­ney” is a trip with a keen observ­er who is inter­est­ed in every­thing before him, a knowl­edge­able com­pan­ion who shares with the read­er his enthu­si­asms and under­stand­ing of what he sees. A vol­ume in the Writ­ers on Writ­ing series. Acknowledgments.

Maron L. Wax­man, retired edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor, spe­cial projects, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, was also an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Harper­Collins and Book-of-the-Month Club.

Discussion Questions