Latin America and Existentialism

A Pan-American Literary History (1864-1938)

Author(s) Edwin Murillo

Language: English

Genre(s): Philosophy

Series: Iberian and Latin American Studies

  • June 2023 · 344 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781837720002
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781837720019
  • · eBook - epub - 9781837720026

About The Book

Latin America and Existentialism is a preliminary intellectual history, prioritising literature and contextualising Latin American philosophical contributions from the 1860s to the late 1930s, decades that coincide with the canon’s foundational years. This study takes a Pan-American approach to move the critical focus away from the River Plate, a region that has received some critical attention. In doing so, it focuses on existentially-neglected writers such as Brazil’s Machado de Assis and Graciliano Ramos, José Asunción Silva from Colombia, Cuba’s Enrique Labrador Ruiz, and the Chilean María Luisa Bombal. Underappreciated Latin American philosophical voices and existentialism’s canonical perspectives allow the author to discuss the many problems concerning the experiencing ‘I’ of these authors, and to consider such existential themes as ethical vacuity, forlornness, the crisis of insufficiency, the conundrum of choice, and the enigma of authentic being. The concentration on Latin America’s existentially-hued interest in the human condition is an invitation to the reader to reconsider the peripheral status in the existentialism canon.


‘A well-researched book claiming a space long overdue to the significance of existentialism in the Latin American cannon. Murillo, a devoted scholar with a fine intellectual thread, analyses the works of authors like Machado de Assis, Labrador Ruiz and Bombal to reshape our understanding of existentialism since the nineteenth century and claim its importance in the Latin American letters.’
-Belén Rodríguez Mourelo, Professor of Spanish, Penn State Berks

‘In Latin America and Existentialism, Murillo presents readers with a hemispheric archive spanning the late-nineteenth century through the 1930s ... This study produces a carefully woven and nuanced argument that takes readers on a literary-philosophical journey that adeptly moves from Brazil and Colombia to Cuba and Chile, an indispensable reference for those interested in the convergence of Latin American literature and philosophy.’
-Juan G. Ramos, Professor of Spanish at the College of the Holy Cross (USA)

‘This is an enriching work that takes readers on a journey through the realms of Latin American literature and existentialism, presenting an in-depth analysis of how Latin American existentialism is misconstrued in the canon … Effortlessly weaving together literature and philosophical insights, creating an engaging exploration of the existential themes that permeate many Latin American literary works from the 1860s to the late 1930s, Murillo brings to light the profound sense of existential questioning embedded within the literary works of these key literary figures.’
-Dr Maria R. Matz, University of Massachusetts Lowell


1. Latin America and Existentialism: An Introduction
2. Machado de Assis and the Art of Existential Deciphering
3. José Fernández as Modernity’s Impossible Patient
4. The Existential Exegete in Enrique Labrador Ruiz’s El laberinto de sí mismo
5. María Luisa Bombal and the Poetics of Inconformity
6. The Burden of Anonymity: Existential Toxicosis in Graciliano Ramos’s Angústia
7. Latin America and Existentialism: An Interlude
Works Cited

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Edwin Murillo

Edwin Murillo is an Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he teaches and publishes on Latin American literature, cultures, creative writing and existentialism studies. He received his doctorate in Romance Studies from the University of Miami.

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