Vulgar continent: Salvador Novo in Hollywood

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In 1940, the Hollywood film industry prospered, the Second World War was underway, and Mexico reeled with the anticipation of the upcoming presidential elections. That same year, Salvador Novo (1904-1974), the writer and Mexico City's Chronicler, spent a season in Hollywood. This article explores this chapter in his life, a time that critics have largely overlooked. The few extant critical references to Novo's trip to Hollywood cast it as the classic itinerary of a dandy; even Carlos Monsiváis called this time in California a pure cosmopolitan extravagance that contributed to Novo's "internationalpatina" ("El mundo soslayado" 38) This article, drawing on revelations from unpublished letters in Novo's Mexican archive, takes a different approach. It explores his complex motivations for spending time outside of Mexico, and it focuses on the ways that the Mexican writer portrayed his relationship with both the popular and the vulgar. In Hollywood, Novo undertook a corporeal transformation that he would continue to develop for the rest of his life: in the undisputed capital of 1940's glamour, Salvador Novo succeeded in showing off his vulgar self.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-45
Number of pages35
JournalRevista de Estudios Hispanicos
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • '40s
  • Body
  • Dandy
  • Hollywood
  • Mexican literature
  • Salvador Novo
  • The popular
  • Travel writing
  • Vulgarity


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