Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Renata R. Wasserman







December 2011

Advisor: Dr. Renata Wasserman

Major: English

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

One resent result of the Recovery of the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project has been the "rediscovery" of the novel La patria perdida (1935), written by acclaimed Mexican journalist Teodoro Torres while in exile in the United States. This novel is a kind of Mexican-American Horacio Algiers tale, detailing the success story of Luis Alfaro, who is eventually able to create a utopian Mexican-American hacienda, called Buenavista, outside of Kansas City, Missouri.

Due to a number of important thematic inversions, La patria perdida stands in stark contrast to other early works of Mexican-American immigrant fiction, including novels like Daniel Venegas's The Adventures of Don Chipote: Or, When Parrots Breast-Feed (1928) and Conrado Espinoza's Under the Texas Sun (1926), which likewise document the experiences of Mexicans who fled north to the United States in order to escape the chaos created by the Mexican Revolution. However, unlike Don Chipote and Under the Texas Sun, which are essentially working class cautionary tales, warning Mexican compatriots against trying to find the American Dream north of the border, Teodoro Torres's novel depicts the life of Luis Alfaro, a landed Mexican rancher, who is very successful in his transition to his new community in the American Heartland.

Exposed to a much diminished degree of racial discrimination as compared to his working class counterparts, Don Chipote, Quico García and Serapio Quijano, Luis Alfaro has many Italian, French and other Western European friends and neighbors, who struggle with similar concerns about the assimilation of their middle class children growing up in the United States.

After Luis' wife Ana María becomes critically ill, her nostalgia for her place of birth inspires Luis to return to Mexico, only to discover that post-Revolutionary Mexico is vastly different from the Mexico which he and his wife had so adored. And unlike the protagonists in Don Chipote and Under the Texas Sun, who return to Mexico only after concluding that the racial discrimination they face will never allow them to achieve the American Dream, Luis eventually returns to the United States, reestablishing himself as the "patrón" of the Buenavista hacienda in order to create a kind of Mexican patriarchal utopia à la Ignacio E. Lozano's concept of "el México de Afuera."

My doctoral dissertation will include a translation of Teodoro Torres's novel La patria perdida, accompanied by a scholarly introduction which will help the reader situate the text in its proper socio-historical context in addition to an introduction which discusses the theoretical principles used to address many important obstacles faced when rendering a translation of Torres's Spanish-language source text into the English target language which is both faithful and beautiful.

Because Luis Alfaro is part of the landed bourgeoisie, his narrated experience creates a context to explore different class assumptions within the Mexican-American immigrant community as well as documenting the heterogeneous composition of the community itself. Likewise, the fact that much of the narrative takes place in Missouri, rather than the American Southwest, means that La patria perdida, first published in 1935, is one of the first works of fiction to document Mexican-American immigrant experiences in the Midwest.

Finally, because the novel concludes with Alfaro's successful transition to the United States or "el México de Afuera," Teodoro Torres's La patria perdida is an interesting work to explore the construction of national identity formation, as well as post-national and border theory within a critical framework, like that provided by Benedict Anderson in his work, Imagined Communities.