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Selected Writings of Andrés Bello (Library of Latin America)
by Andrés Bello
ISBN 0195105451 / 9780195105452 / 0-19-510545-1
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
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Andres Bello was a towering figure in nineteenth-century Latin America. Poet, politician, educator, essayist, philosopher, he encompassed an enormous spectrum of concerns, wielded astonishing influence, and played a major role in shaping the national identities of newly independent Latin American countries. Indeed, in North America perhaps only Thomas Jefferson presents a figure of comparable scope and stature, and Bello is as crucial and as famous in Latin America as Jefferson is in the United States. Nearly every city in Latin America has its Andres Bello Avenue, its Andres Bello statue, even its Andres Bello university. He held several key government positions, authored Chile's civil code, launched several newspapers, wrote prodigiously on a vast array of subjects, and implemented important educational reforms. Yet until now his work has remained virtually unknown to English-speaking readers.
The Selected Writings of Andres Bello, edited by Ivan Jaksic, brilliantly succeeds both in representing the full range of Bello's contribution and in giving us a coherent picture of his thought. The selections gathered here explore such subjects as grammar and philology, constitutional reform, the aims of education, international relations, historiography, Latin and Roman Law, government and society, and many others. Throughout his work, Bello's central concerns with language, education, law, and the nature of responsible government and responsible citizenship, appear again and again. In one essay, Bello traces the evolution of writing from the earliest pictorial symbols to the development of an alphabet capable of communicating abstract ideas. In another, he argues that representative government, more than any other, depends upon a literate and educated citizenry. And in another, he asserts that freedom requires laws that are equally observed by everyone. "Can there be greater injustice," he asks, "than a readiness to trample on the rights of others, while trying to have one's own rights religiously observed?" In these and many other essays, Bello writes with grace, extraordinary insight, and a clear-headed vision of what would be necessary to provide a sustainable order for the fledgling republics of Latin America. More than any of his contemporaries, Bello provides the crucial bridge between the cast-off colonial culture of the Spanish empire and the promising beginnings of the new nation-states.
As part of the Library of Latin America series,The Selected Writings of Andres Bello gives us a generous sampling of a gifted and graceful thinker who must be included in any understanding of the origins and development of Latin America. [via]