"The Doubtful Strait" tells the story of the Spanish conquest of Central America from the "discovery" of the American continent to recent historical events. The early Spanish obsession with locating a waterway to the Pacific, the "doubtful" or "elusive" strait of the poem's title, becomes the object of repeated quests, the motivation for complex action, and the cause of war. Constructed almost entirely from unaltered fragments of documents and histories from the colonial era, the poem opens with Columbus's fourth voyage and concludes with the apocalyptic destruction of Le-n, Nicaragua, by the volcano Momotombo in 1603. A parallel plot tells the story of the political events and economic conditions of more recent Nicaraguan history, mainly of life under Anastasio Somoza and Luis Somoza Debayle, prefigured in the history of the notorious colonial governors of Nicaragua, Pedrarias D vila and Rodrigo de Contreras. Sweeping in its scope, "The Doubtful Strait" is a remarkable achievement and an engrossing narrative of the Spanish encounter with Central America.
ERNESTO CARDENAL is a poet, priest, and revolutionary. His works include Cosmic Canticle, Zero Hour and Other Documentary Poems, In Cuba, and Los Ovnis de Oro / Golden UFOs. JOHN LYONS has translated Cardenal's Cosmic Canticles and is the author of a study of Cardenal. TAMARA R. WILLIAMS is Associate Professor of Spanish at Hamilton College.
INTRODUCTION TRANSLATOROS NOTE ON PUNCTUATION El estrecho dudoso The Doubtful Strait GLOSSARY