The world discovered Latin American literature in the twentieth century, but the roots of this rich literary tradition reach back beyond Columbus's discovery of the New World. The great pre-Hispanic civilizations composed narrative accounts of the acts of gods and kings. Conquistadors and friars, as well as their Amerindian subjects, recorded the clash of cultures that followed the Spanish conquest. Three hundred years of colonization and the struggle for independence gave rise to a diverse body of literature-including the novel, which flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century.To give everyone interested in contemporary Spanish American fiction a broad understanding of its literary antecedents, this book offers an authoritative survey of four centuries of Spanish American narrative. Naomi Lindstrom begins with Amerindian narratives and moves forward chronologically through the conquest and colonial eras, the wars for independence, and the nineteenth century. She focuses on the trends and movements that characterized the development of prose narrative in Spanish America, with incisive discussions of representative works from each era. Her inclusion of women and Amerindian authors who have been downplayed in other survey works, as well as her overview of recent critical assessments of early Spanish American narratives, makes this book especially useful for college students and professors.