Eduardo Galeano, the author of mega-influential lefty masterpiece The Open Veins of Latin America, has now disavowed his work. Open Veins, written in the 1970s, was influential for a generation of writers, journalists, and academics. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez handed Obama a copy of Galeano’s work when the two met. The book, in brief, links Latin America’s continued economic distress to systems of exploitation that date back to colonization.Galeano expressed his second thoughts a month ago, but the NYT has finally picked up the story. Here’s the heart of his disavowal:
‘Open Veins’ tried to be a book of political economy, but I didn’t yet have the necessary training or preparation,” Mr. Galeano said last month while answering questions at a book fair in Brazil, where he was being honored on the 43rd anniversary of the book’s publication. He added: “I wouldn’t be capable of reading this book again; I’d keel over. For me, this prose of the traditional left is extremely leaden, and my physique can’t tolerate it.”
This is a big story on its own. It’s as if Howard Zinn repudiated his People’s History of the United States. But coming on the heels of Pikettygate, it marks a bad time for magisterial leftist works, and reminds us that there is no critic more important than time.