On the purpose of ‘plagiarized authenticity’

  1. Sarmiento thought Cooper had found a way to talk about America that took advantage of its originality, and should therefore be a model for New World writing. He is writing on the edge of civilization/barbarism.
  2. Cooper eliminates persons of color so the encounter is between the white guy and mother nature. Mixed people upset the rungs of the racial ladder.
  3. Both writers like the “original” pathfinders, but not for long.
  4. The land itself must also be civilized, have its originality taken … as if originality only needed to be established long enough to get rid of [Spain].
  5. So Sarmiento writes against the constraints of European genres that miss the specificity of American life, but also against his anarchic environment.
  6. Sarmiento’s endorsement of Cooper is paradoxically self-advancing. He promotes Cooper’s America as a model for Argentina but does not sacrifice particularity. Sylvia Molloy emphasizes that he was given to translating others’ work and says this is related to plagiarism. Sommer says his citation of admired masters is a strategic distancing. It enables him to then come back with the spoils of borrowed authority.
  7. The binary oppositions that structure Sarmiento’s work break down, and he knows it; he does not want to undo Facundo’s work, but appropriate it. APPROPRIATE, not do away with barbarian originality.
  8. And he accuses Cooper of plagiarizing the Pampas to appropriate his work.
  9. So he is able to appropriate Cooper while also citing respectfully–it all has to do with legitimation and authority, effectively capturing an origin or the origin

What then of another set of appropriations and influences, that also imagines authenticity through U.S. texts?


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