Reading and Writing the Latin American Landscape by Beatriz Rivera-Barnes, Jerry Hoeg (auth.)

By Beatriz Rivera-Barnes, Jerry Hoeg (auth.)

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By Beatriz Rivera-Barnes, Jerry Hoeg (auth.)

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According to Ramón Menéndez Pidal, the word itself derives from the very versatile Spanish verb picar (Rutherford 33). And just to enumerate a few possible translations of picar, there is to bite, to sting, to peck, to prick, to itch, to cut, to nosh, to nibble, to annoy, and to goad, but by no means does the list end here. It was not until the middle of the sixteenth century that the word pícaro appeared in the written language. Interestingly enough, Rutherford proceeds to enumerate the literary works where the word is not found, suggesting that the pícaro and the pícara already existed, but remained unnamed in the sense that they were unwritten.

They were thirsty, and at the same time water was killing them. But the reader is as thirsty for a time when nature was still so formidable. 4 Chapter 3 Picaresque Nature Conqui stado rs, Parrots, Parasi t es, Mi mi cs Beatriz Rivera-Barnes I f nature writing is what ecocriticism likes best, then ecocriticism will frown on Hernán Cortés’s Letters from Mexico (1519–26) and José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi’s 1816 picaresque novel El Periquillo Sarniento (translated either as The Mangy Parrot or The Itching Parrot).

Perhaps Narvaez should have been better able to read these waters since he had already sailed from Cuba to the Yucatan in pursuit of Hernan Cortés eight years earlier. “To go from Havana to the Río de las Palmas, all Miruelo had to do was follow a rutter and estimate his speed, plotting all of this information on a chart to keep track of his progress across the Gulf of Mexico” (Reséndes 80). Now the question is, should Narvaez and his pilot have known this much? This is followed by another question: should readers of this chronicle become overly judgmental armchair navigators and fail to take into consideration that these waters, these depths and shallows, and these weather patterns remain treacherous to this day of laptop computer navigation?

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