“Mis abuelos, mis padres y yo” por Frida Kahlo, 1936
The relationship between literature and family is complex and fascinating. The American writer Alex Haley (the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, appropriately enough, for Roots: The Saga of an American Family) claimed that “In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” In this way, one can understand the family itself as a sort of story, a narrative that tells one where their ancestors came from, what they did, and how that tells one who she or he is. When one can see the family story continue into the future by way of one’s progeny, it is (unlike literary works such as novels) an endless narrative. Of course not every family line is continued, and not every person has knowledge of their ancestry, or indeed any connection to a family. But to me, Haley’s quotation suggests the idea of the family as a continuing narrative and I can imagine a family tree as a visual representation of this story (or stories).
Personally, literature has always been closely connected with my family. For me, and probably for most of the people in the class, my earliest experiences with literature were stories read to me from my parents. My parents read me children’s stories, then as I grew older, they read me novels, short stories and poems. I also remember my aunts and my grandmother telling me folk stories and fables.
Though my lack of knowledge precludes my discussion of Latin American literature specifically, it seems interesting that the family unit is at the centre of so many beloved and important works. My mother loves the work of Austen and Dickens (though I personally do not enjoy them), which are largely concerned with families and family issues. Some of my favourite works feature the different generations of Sallinger’s Glass family and Puzo and Coppola’s Corleone family. And though the “literary” content of my one final example may seem questionable to some, I feel as though I can’t close this discussion (my first blog entry ever) without mentioning the Simpsons.