2 minute read

Luis Leal: 1907—: Scholar, Literary Critic

Made Significant Publications

While at the University of Illinois, Leal expanded his research focus from short stories to include novels and major Mexican and Latin American writers. He became especially interested in writers of the Mexican Revolution. Leal published extensively and read papers at scholarly conferences, often about disregarded subjects. Among the more than 200 articles he wrote for U.S. and Latin American audiences was a long piece on the first novel published in Spanish in the United States, in which he identifies the author of Jicotencal. In the 1960s he contributed essays to a Mexico City newspaper's Sunday literary supplement and to such scholarly journals as Cuadernos Americanos and Historia Mexicana. He also completed more than 30 definitive books on Latin American and Chicano literature. He expanded an essay written for Encyclopaedia Britannica in the 1950s on Mariano Azuela, the creator of the novel of the Mexican Revolution, into a full-length study based on reviews of Azuela's published works, personal papers, and interviews with his widow. Leal's literature surveys included Panorama de la literature mexicana actual, an assessment of twentieth century Mexican literature, and Breve historia de la literature hispanoamericana.

The Chicano movement of the mid-1960s made Leal aware of the cultural and artistic contributions of Mexican Americans. He developed an interest in Chicano literature, which traced its roots from the Spanish colonial period. Garcia explained, "Don Luis became not only one of the first senior scholars in the country to champion this new writing and research, but he also became one of its first scholars. His previous work in Mexican and Latin American literature contributed to helping establish the cultural linkages between Hispanic literature south of the border and Chicano literature north of it. Moreover, his stature and importance in the early days of Chicano literary criticism made it difficult for others to dismiss this research area as nothing more than political rhetoric." Leal participated in one of the first sessions on Chicano literature at a Modern Language Association meeting; he read a paper that commented on the poets José Montoya, Alurista, and Ricardo Sánchez. He also wrote and edited numerous books and articles on the new genre. Book-length works include Corridos y canciones de Aztlá, A Decade of Chicano Literature (1970-1979), Aztlán y México: Perfiles literarios e históricos, and No Longer Voiceless. His book on Juan Rulfo put the Chicano author's works in literary, historical, and social context. In 1988, Salvador Guereña compiled Luis Leal: A Bibliography with Interpretative and Critical Essays, which covers his published works.

Additional topics

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