El cuento hispánico
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Student Edition
El cuento hispánico: A Graded Literary Anthology, 6/e

Edward J. Mullen, University of Missouri, Columbia
John F. Garganigo, Washington University

ISBN: 0072818883
Copyright year: 2004


El cuento hispánico: A Graded Literary Anthology, Sixth Edition, is designed for intermediate college Spanish reading courses. This book gives students a collection of first-rate Spanish-language short stories with which to expand their reading skills and their knowledge of Hispanic culture as portrayed in these works. Although literary excellence was the primary criterion in selecting stories, an effort was also made to choose tales that can be read in one sitting.

Organization of the Text

To ease the transition from the edited materials normally taught at the first-year level, El cuento hispánico is divided into three parts: Primer paso, Segundo paso, and Tercer paso. The first part contains five brief stories that provide a bridge between the elementary level of first-year readers and the more complex, sophisticated tone of unedited creative works. For this first step in reading, stories that are accessible to low-intermediate students were chosen. They are easy to understand and offer students the opportunity to gain confidence in reading and to review some of the grammar points they may have forgotten. The exercise materials that accompany the stories in the Primer paso are designed to review the basic tools necessary for reading: verb forms, vocabulary recognition, and high-frequency idiomatic expressions.

The Segundo and Tercer pasos are primarily literary in nature; here the intrinsic artistic merit of each piece was the most important factor in its selection. In order to provide students with a degree of continuity, the Segundo paso presents three stories by each of four major twentieth-century Hispanic writers: Ana María Matute, Horacio Quiroga, Julio Cortázar, and Jorge Luis Borges. The Tercer paso offers a selection of twentieth-century Hispanic fiction at its best. Included are four exciting stories by Luisa Valenzuela, Soledad Puértolas, Elena Poniatowska, and Gabriel García Márquez. Whereas the exercises in the Primer paso are language-based, those in the Segundo and Tercer pasos are more directed toward literary analysis.

Each story is prefaced by an introduction that will help students understand the story as they read it and guide them toward an analysis of the story as a work of literature. Extensive pre- and postreading activities—grouped under the headings Antes de leer and Después de leer, respectively—also accompany each story.

Antes de leer. Students should complete the activities in this section before reading the stories; the activities help students better understand the stories and equip them with the skills that will enable them to read later selections in the book.

  • Palabras importantes y modismos: Lists of idiomatic expressions and key verbs found in each story. Studying these words before reading will help students understand the story that follows. Some of the words and expressions appear again in later stories.
  • Repaso de verbos: Grammar-based activities (in the Primer paso only) that allow students to review many of the verb forms they studied in previous Spanish classes.
  • Estrategias para leer: Prereading activities that present topics such as cognate recognition, contextual guessing, and anticipating content (in the Primer paso) and ways to recognize literary devices (in the Segundo paso).
  • Contexto cultural: This prereading feature provides details that will help students understand the unique cultural and/or historical context in which the story was written.

Después de leer. The exercises in this section complement each specific reading and therefore differ from story to story.

  • Cuestionario: Comprehension questions, following every story in the text, gauge whether students understand the content of the story.
  • Estudio de palabras: Vocabulary exercises specific to the content of the reading give students another opportunity to practice the words and expressions studied in Palabras importantes y modismos.
  • Consideraciones: These questions (in the Segundo and Tercer pasos) are aimed specifically at developing critical thinking skills while offering further practice in building reading skills and opportunities to check reading comprehension.
  • Análisis del texto: Higher-level questions require students to go beyond the surface of the story and search for theme, meaning, symbols, and so forth.
  • En grupos: Group activity questions that actively engage students in problem-solving situations.
  • Bibliografía: Lists of sources and suggestions for additional reading (in the Segundo and Tercer pasos).

New to the Sixth Edition

  • Primer paso now includes a story by the Mexican-American writer Sandra Cisneros.
  • The Contexto cultural feature, which precedes each story and provides sociopolitical, historical, and cultural information, is now entirely in Spanish, a change made at the recommendation of reviewers.
  • New partner-group activities, En grupos, facilitate and encourage group interaction while also helping develop problem-solving skills.
  • New stories by Horacio Quiroga, Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges, and Gabriel García Márquez have been added to the Segundo and Tercer pasos.
  • Source and reference materials listed in the Bibliografía were revised and updated. Where appropriate, references to audiovisual materials have been added.
  • A new website provides additional resources and activities for students, including additional biographic information about the writers and Web-based activities.


For the preparation of the Sixth Edition, instructors using the text throughout the country were asked to comment on the exercise materials, the overall organization of the text, and the success of the stories in the classroom. We are very much indebted to those concerned instructors for, in effect, the content of this text is a direct result of their assistance. The appearance of their names here does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the text or its approach.

Leon Bensadon, University of Washington
Elizabeth A. Chamberlain, Dartmouth College
Guadalupe Fisch, University of Washington
María Gillman, University of Washington
Jorge González, University of Washington
Amanda L. Irwin, Rhodes College
Devin Jenkins, University of Colorado, Denver
Catherine M. Nock, Syracuse University
Margaret M. Olsen, University of Missouri, Columbia
David Diego Rodríguez, University of Illinois, Chicago
Benita Sampedro, Hofstra University

Acknowledgment is also due María de la Colina and Raúl A. Galoppe for their assistance in preparing exercise materials for this edition. Finally, we wish to express our gratitude to the editorial staff at McGraw-Hill, in particular to William Glass and Thalia Dorwick, who were responsible for suggesting a number of fundamental changes that make this a still better text. We would also like to thank Pennie Alem, our development editor, for her thoughtful and careful attention to the manuscript. Likewise, we thank Laura Chastain for providing cultural and linguistic suggestions.

Edward J. Mullen
John F. Garganigo

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