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As a teenager, Manuel Chavez (1910-1996) left his native New Mexico for over a decade of study at the St. Francis Seraphic Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, and other midwestern institutions. Included in his curriculum was an introduction to literature and the arts that piqued an interest that would follow him the remainder of his life. Upon returning to New Mexico, he was ordained Fray Angelico Chavez and would become one of New Mexico's most important twentieth-century writers. In "The Life and Writing of Fray Angelico Chavez", Ellen McCracken provides a literary biography that includes a deep look into the intellectual and cultural contributions of this Renaissance man. McCracken moves chronologically through a substantial body of work that includes fiction, poetry, plays, essays, spiritual tracts, sermons, historical writing, translation, painting, church renovation, and journalism. From the prolific creativity of the years of his first assignment in Pena Blanca to the decades he spent researching Hispano genealogy in New Mexico, McCracken traces Chavez's complex and changing identity as an ethnic American and religious subject who was also an historian, artist, creative writer, and preservationist. The year 2010 will mark the centenary of Fray Angelico Chavez's birth and this volume will serve as a fitting tribute.
University of New Mexico Press
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