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Luis Leal: 1907—: Scholar, Literary Critic

Began To Study Mexican Literature

The second World War interrupted Leal's pursuit of a doctorate degree. Since he had become a naturalized citizen, the U.S. Army was able to draft him in 1943 and sent him to the Pacific theater. He served with forces that retook the Philippines from Japan. Two years later he resumed his studies upon his return to the United States. Before he had left, Professor Carlos Castillo asked Leal to collaborate with him on the first anthology of Mexican literature published in the United States. The Antología de la literatura mexicana was published in 1944. That same year, Leal also edited short stories for high school students under the title Cuentecitos: Retold and Adopted from the Spanish of Vicente Riva Palacio and condensed the first novel published in Mexico, El periquillo sarniento for educational publication.

Leal learned to do research and apply literary criticism while working on his Ph.D. dissertation. His advisor was from Argentina and emphasized Latin American literature, a departure from the Spanish peninsular literature emphasized by his undergraduate professors. For his dissertation Leal focused on the origins of the Mexican short story, and specifically, wrote Garcia in Leal's biography, the "fictional elements contained within the chronicles written by the Spanish after conquest of the Aztec empire."

While in Chicago Leal was active in Spanish cultural and Latino community-based organizations. He and his friends formed the Sociedad Española, a Spanish American literary club. He presented one of his first papers there, which he later published. However, Leal did not yet think Chicano literature deserved university study, although he read Spanish-language newspapers featuring such stories. Together with activist Frank Paz and with the support of the City of Chicago, Leal founded the Mexican American Council to assist people coming from Mexico.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: C(hristopher) J(ohn) Koch Biography - C.J. Koch comments: to Sir (Alfred Charles) Bernard Lovell (1913– ) BiographyLuis Leal: 1907—: Scholar, Literary Critic Biography - Need For Education Sparked Self-motivation, Began To Study Mexican Literature, Moved From University To University