The Mexican diplomat Alfonso Reyes (1889–1959) was notable in the cultural panorama of Spanish America in the first half of the 20th century for his acquaintance with classical rhetoric, a discipline rarely studied at that time in that part of the world. This article distinguishes four aspects of rhetoric throughout Reyes' oeuvre: (i) a vulgar sense, (ii) an erudite sense, (iii) classical theories, (iv) and modern applications. In his early work, Reyes uses rhetoric in a pejorative and vulgar sense. Around the year 1940, Reyes starts to show a lively interest in rhetoric, opts definitively for an erudite sense of the term, and initiates the study of the classical art of persuasion. In his third phase, Reyes gains deeper knowledge of rhetoric, lectures on the subject, and explains his favorite orators andtheorists. Finally,his use of rhetoric reveals a commitment to the reality of Spanish America. Reyes' rhetoric is an “actualised” and “Americanised” version that shows the possibilities of the classical art of persuasion in Spanish American society.
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