John Felstiner's experience of Macchu Picchu, gained through the process of translating Neruda, should be instructive for North American readers not familiar with the most recent Spanish American writing. Felstiner claims to have been radically reoriented (North-South instead of East-West) by his encounter with Neruda, who fixed the ruins of the Incan fortress in the linguistic and imaginary landscape of all Americans. In a different way-as Enrico Mario Santi shows-Neruda managed to radically re-write the history of Latin America through his contact with Macchu Picchu. Alvaro Mutis and writers such as Enrique Lihn, Carlos German Belli, Alejandra Pizarnik, Jose Emilio Pacheco, and Oscar Hahn have established themselves in Spanish America, and they have been doing some radical rewriting of their own. As I hope to show with respect to Mutis, they are each worthy of being "discovered" by North American readers. Like his fellow poets, Mutis occupies places that are not indicated on conventional maps of reference although one needs those maps to locate them. The enigmatic nature of a terra incognita defined by a known world is characteristic of Mutis' work and links it to the puzzle of language and modernity.



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