The novel was forbidden in the Spanish colonies by the Inquisition. The inquisitors considered this literary genre, the novel, to be as dangerous for the spiritual faith of the Indians as for the moral and political behavior of society and, of course, they were absolutely right. We novelists must be grateful to the Spanish Inquisition for having discovered before any critic did the inevitable subversive nature of fiction. The prohibition included reading and publishing novels in the colonies. There was no way naturally to avoid a great number of novels being smuggled into our countries; and we know, for example, that the first copies of Don Quixote entered America hidden in barrels of wine. We can only dream with envy about what kind of experience it was in those times in Spanish America to read a novel—a sinful adventure in which in order to abandon yourself to an imaginary world you had to be prepared to face prison and humiliation.
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