In Carlos Fuentes, Mexico, and Modernity, Van Delden argues that there is a fundamental paradox at the heart of Fuentes’s vision of Mexico and in his role as novelist and critic in putting forth that vision. This paradox hinges on the tension between national identity and modernity. A significant internal conflict emerges in Fuentes’s work from his attempt to stake out two different positions for himself, as experimental novelist and as politically engaged and responsible intellectual. Drawing from his fiction, literary essays, and political journalism, Van Delden places these tensions in Fuentes’s work in relation to the larger debates about modernity and postmodernity in Latin America. He concludes that Fuentes is fundamentally a modernist writer, in spite of the fact that he occasionally gravitates toward the postmodernist position in literature and politics.
Van Delden’s thorough command of the subject matter, his innovative and sometimes iconoclastic conclusions, and his clear and engaging writing style make this study more than just an interpretation of Fuentes’s work. Carlos Fuentes, Mexico, and Modernity offers nothing less than a comprehensive analysis of Fuentes’s intellectual development in the context of modern Mexican political and cultural life.