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An Ordered Eden: The Ideal Administration in Ernesto Cardenal's El estrecho dudoso

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This article analyses the Nicaraguan poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal's compelling but little studied book-length narrative poem, El estrecho dudoso (1966), which was published at a time when Cardenal's traditional position of Conservative opposition to the Liberal-affiliated dictatorship of the Somoza family no longer offered a viable political alternative in the present. The article analyses how the adaptation of the poetic techniques of Ezra Pound contributes to the poem's tone and structure. It argues that by setting the action in the sixteenth century, Cardenal dramatized a period when Conservative ideas of order, discipline and religious devotion retained their oppositional potential. The analysis discusses the poem's portrait of the emerging colonial society of Central America as a mirror of that of twentieth-century Nicaragua that draws attention to parallels between the tyrannical Governor, Pedrarias Dávila, and the Somozas. Finally, this article argues that the poem's failure to espouse the left-wing ideology that would be associated with Cardenal in the 1980s, when he served as Minister of Culture in the Sandinista government, is the source of its popular and critical neglect.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Guelph, Ontario,

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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