Allegory and Archipelago: Jesus Balmori's "Los pájaros de fuego" and the Global Vantages of Filipino Literature in Spanish

Adam Lifshey


The trajectory of modern globalization is incomprehensible without an attempt to understand the Philippines. This essay considers a Filipino novel written in Spanish during World War II, Los pájaros de fuego [The Birds of Fire] by Jesús Balmori, as a landmark of world literature by virtue of its composition in the tongue of an old European empire, under the duress of an East Asian empire, and during the colonization of a North American empire. Although the novel focuses on the elite Spanish-speaking class of the mid-20th-century Philippines, its allegorical processings of a globalized conflict raise questions of broad theoretical import to many academic disciplines. The Birds of Fire, despite its obscurity and that of the tradition of which it is part, reveals Filipino literature in Spanish to be a key to rendering a fuller account of the contemporary world and the imperial histories that pervade it.


hispanophone Asian novel, World War II literature

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