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In this article, the writer Luis Cardoza y Aragón reviews the Tratado de Estética [Aesthetics Treatise] by Luis Vidales Jaramillo, a few months after it was published. The Guatemalan author contextualizes Vidales Jaramillo’s work, describing its seriousness and depth in glowing terms. He then talks at great length about the difference between dogmatism and criticism in the application of Marxist principles, trying to show that Vidales Jaramillo is more inclined to interpret than to restrict. Cardoza y Aragón also reflects on the relationship between artistic creation and social context in terms of a discussion about the identity and originality of Latin American art. Cardoza y Aragón apologizes for the superficial nature of his review, and begs his audience to read and discuss the work of Vidales Jaramillo, the Colombian poet and critic.
Luis Cardoza y Aragón (1904–1992) was born in Guatemala but spent most of his life in Mexico. He was a noted poet, writer, and art critic who was on a tour of diplomatic duty in Bogotá at the time this article was published. The tone and serious nature of his review testify to the impact in aesthetic and intellectual circles of the Tratado de Estética [Aesthetics Treatise] by Luis Vidales Jaramillo (1900–1990) when it was published in the 1940s [see: “Tratado de Estética, Prólogo,” doc. no. 1080374]; this article documents the reception and repercussions of this work in the literary world.
Cardoza y Aragón’s praise of Vidales Jaramillo’s work is not limited to its analytical content, but also addresses its ability to pose theoretical questions that are relevant from a Latin American perspective. The author discusses two main questions: one concerns the relationship between political convictions (especially Marxism, to which Vidales was a sworn convert) and art criticism; the other concerns the possible existence of a Latin American art. Cardoza y Aragón does not agree with Vidales on everything but is comfortable on the whole with the Colombian’s critical views, which are discussed and compared in the article. This review documents the existence of a critical and aesthetic dialogue (in the 1940s) that went beyond facile opinions and forced praise. It also sought inspiration from current theoretical and historical trends.