The Dinner at Gonfarone’s

BookThe Dinner at Gonfarone’s

The Dinner at Gonfarone’s

Salomón de la Selva and His Pan-American Project in Nueva York, 1915-1919

American Tropics: Towards a Literary Geography, 7


March 1st, 2022



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The Dinner at Gonfarone’s is organised as a partial biography, covering five years in the life of the young Nicaraguan poet, Salomón de la Selva, but it also offers a literary geography of Hispanic New York (Nueva York) in the turbulent years around the First World War. De la Selva is of interest because he stands as the largely unacknowledged precursor of Latino writers like Junot Díaz and Julia Álvarez, writing the first book of poetry in English by an Hispanic author. In addition, through what he called his pan-American project, de la Selva brought together in New York writers from all over the American continent. He put the idea of trans-American literature into practice long before the concept was articulated.
De la Selva’s range of contacts was enormous, and this book has been made possible through discovery of caches of letters that he wrote to famous writers of the day, such as Edwin Markham and Amy Lowell, and especially Edna St Vincent Millay. Alongside de la Selva’s own poetry – his book Tropical Town (1918) and a previously unknown 1916 manuscript collection – The Dinner at Gonfarone’s highlights other Hispanic writing about New York in these years by poets such as Rubén Darío, José Santos Chocano, and Juan Ramón Jiménez, all of whom were part of de la Selva’s extensive network.

'Peter Hulme’s The Dinner at Gonfarone’s is a masterful, well-written literary history of the origins of modern literary pan-Americanism that offers the first in-depth biography in English of the early life and work of its seminal figure, Salomón de la Selva.'
Jonathan Cohen, author of A Pan-American Life: Selected Poetry and Prose of Muna Lee

'The Dinner at Gonfarone’s is a brilliant pioneering study of the transcultural origins of literary Nueva York. Hulme is able to recreate and delineate an important community of American writers in the continental sense of the word, thereby illuminating a relatively unknown aspect of New York’s cultural history.'
Steven F. White, Professor of Hispanic Studies, St. Lawrence University

Author Information

Peter Hulme is Emeritus Professor in Literature at the University of Essex

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Illustrations11
Notes on Translation, Usage, and Abbreviations13
1. Setting the Scene: New York in 191423
The Hispanic Presence24
The Poetic Waters33
Modernity and Modernism40
2. American Geopolitics in the New Century (1898–1914)47
The Famous States48
Roosevelt’s Vision63
The Shakespearean Allegory70
3. The Changing of the Poetic Guard (1915)89
Growing Up in New York91
Rubén Darío in Hospital96
Befriending Pedro, Loving Edna120
The First Dinner141
4. New York through Spanish Eyes (1916)150
Courting Archer151
The Recently Married Poet155
Edwin Markham on Staten Island172
Wilson’s Crime in Santo Domingo178
A Tale from Faerieland183
5. Goading the Bull Moose (1917)192
Confronting Roosevelt193
Mamita Schauffler203
Introducing Edna216
6. The Pan-American Dream (1918)222
Is America Honest?224
Translating Poetry231
Tropical Town251
Falling in Love Again266
Fighting for England271
7. The Last Dinner (1919)291
Nueva York293
A Soldier Returns298
The Dinner at Gonfarone’s305
The Gulf of Misunderstanding337
Nicaragua Has Me343
Leaving New York349
In Mexico356
Later Life359
Taking Account363
Select Bibliography383