The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 488
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
... a majority of Border Mexicans ... unlike other American minori-
ties ... directed their energies not toward being accepted into the
majority but toward maintaining their own individual rights as mem-
bers of an aloof enclave struggling to keep its own identity ... [and
developing, out of past conflicts] the Border heroic corrido [or ballad].
With the admirable purpose of promoting a better understand-
ing of this phenomenon, the text is divided into two parts. The
first contains an account of the life, the fact and the legend, of one
Gregorio Cortez Lira (1875-1916), who is better known as Cortez.
The second part concerns the story of the ballad El Corrido de
Gregorio Cortez, which carefree guitarreros developed out of an
exciting episode in his life. Logically, only a modest portion of
Part I, i.e., Chapter III, "The Man," purports to deal with the
factual history of this episode which began with a misunderstand-
ing between Cortez and Sheriff W. T. Morris of Karnes County
and which erupted into two western-type gun fights, four homi-
cides, an extended manhunt, a sea-saw court siege, and a dra-
matic lynch-mob scene.
In tackling such an involved and controversial topic, a seasoned
scholar would have proceeded not only objectively but would have
employed the utmost in soundness of purpose and exactness of
technique. Even for a folklorist this would seem to be advantage-
ous in view of the avowed "fact-folklore-ballad" thesis. But such
is not the case here. While it is true that vigorous scholarship
and vigilant editorship could have saved this book, nay, made it
an epic, historians-without searching for peccadillos-will rec-
ognize readily that inadequate research, a paucity of sources, and
the glib presentation result in naught but a confusion of errors
of both fact and impression. It is one thing-and an understand-
able thing-to take guitar in hand and lustily, joyfully, and in-
geniously transform the "big rock candy mountain" into a hill
of tamales or the "soda water fountain" into an everlasting flow
of chili con came; it is even romantically feasible to envision wily
old Cortez, con su pistola en la mano, riding the little brown mare
to perpetual glories via the corrido; but it is still another thing-
and one of dire consequence-to attempt to pass off imaginative
subjectivities as absolute truth. Work of this sort is the hallmark
of the person who is careless.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/m1/596/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.