Anxieties of Experience: The Literatures of the Americas from Whitman to Bolano offers a new interpretation of US and Latin American literature from the nineteenth century to the present. Revisiting longstanding debates in the hemisphere about whether the source of authority for New World literature derives from an author's first-hand contact with American places and peoples or from a creative (mis)reading of existing traditions, the book charts a widening gap in how modern US and Latin American writers defined their literary authority. In the process, it traces the development of two distinct literary strains in the Americas: the US literature of experience and the Latin American literature of the reader. Reinterpreting a range of canonical works from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass to Roberto Bolano's 2666, Anxieties of Experience shows how this hemispheric literary divide fueled a series of anxieties, misunderstandings, and misencounters between US and Latin American authors. In the wake of recent calls to rethink the common grounds approach to literature across the Americas, the book advocates a comparative approach that highlights the distinct logics of production and legitimation in the US and Latin American literary fields. Anxieties of Experience closes by exploring the convergence of the literature of experience and the literature of the reader in the first decades of the twenty-first century, arguing that the post-Bolano moment has produced the strongest signs of a truly reciprocal literature of the Americas in more than a hundred years.
A massively erudite and elegantly written book, Anxieties of Experience takes its readers on a hemispheric journey through modern times, leading up to the present. Comparing and contrasting the literatures of North and South America is ultimately, for Lawrence, a means of examining whether a bookish life is a life lived to the fullest. With its sustained line of inquiry across corpora, the volume makes a valuable contribution to several fields of study-while also introducing general readers to hemispheric studies. * Hector Hoyos, Stanford University, author of Beyond Bolano: The Global Latin American Novel * Anxieties of Experience offers an exceptionally bold and mind-expanding reconnaissance of the counterpoint and interweave between distinctive traditions of U. S. and Latin American literary thought and practice over the past two centuries. Anyone seriously interested in the past, the present, and the likely future of 'hemispheric literature' will want to read this book from start to finish. * Lawrence Buell, Harvard University, author of The Dream of the Great American Novel * An exciting, lucid reframing of the interactions between North American and Latin American literatures over the course of the past two centuries, Anxieties of Experience shows the critical and conceptual gains to be made from rethinking the hemispheric through the lens of world literature. Moving nimbly between close analysis and distant views to map the shifting, dialogic, dialectical relation between literatures north and south, the book's central concern and achievement is to reboot and reorient hemispheric literary studies; stowed-away in its coda is a thrilling supplement, a mapping of an entirely new scene of the contemporary. Lawrence's is a witty, incisive, eloquent new voice in literary and cultural criticism. * Michelle Clayton, Brown University, Poetry in Pieces: Cesar Vallejo and Lyric Modernity *