Escondidos, ausentes, lejanos. Invisibilidades y encierros en unas nouvelles hispanoamericanas del siglo XXI: los modelos de Gabriel Peveroni y María José Caro

This entry is part 25 of 34 in the series Vol 5-2020

Abstract: The tradition of fantastic literature and ghost stories has been built, over the two and a half centuries that separate us from the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), on the basis of the presence of a set of prototypical elements of the genre: the nocturnal and/or gloomy atmospheres, the almost permanent darkness, the death of some of the key characters of the story, the invisibility -real or presumed- of the protagonists, etc. However, another form of literary representation of invisibility exists: in that form the condition of spectrality and the other features that have just been indicated do not refer to the canonical model of fantastic literature, but to a conceptual scheme in which the spectrum (understood as an “invisible being”) is only the projection of a mental and psychic state of imbalance that affects the characters.
In the present study, dedicated to the analysis of two contemporary Latin American novels (El exilio según Nicolás, from the Uruguayan Gabriel Peveroni, and Perro de ojos negros, from the Peruvian María José Caro) we will analyze three aspects related to this paradigm shift: a) the choice of closed and claustrophobic spaces (apartments, rooms, etc.) as main scenarios of representation; b) the presence in the fiction of some threatening element, whose nature at first looks ambiguous, and whose origin actually lies in an alteration of the psychic dimension of the observer-character; c) the fact that the protagonists of fiction themselves become human beings that perceive themselves as invisible and spectral.
This transformation reflects a condition in which the individual subject becomes a ghost in the face of the social context, as a projection of a certain weakness of his mind. It means, therefore, that there are no longer enchanted houses or fearsome monsters: everything comes from a disturbed glances of the main character or the narrator-witness. It means that we will approach our study using tools such as the theory of perception (Merleau-Ponty) or the theoretical approaches of Zygmunt Bauman, Gilles Lipovetsky or Paula Sibilia.

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Interiores y exteriores urbanos como espejo de la segmentación socioeconómica. La definición de una cartografía de la pertenencia en Martín Rivas, de Alberto Blest Gana

This entry is part 29 of 38 in the series Vol 4-2019

Abstract: Within the literary production of Alberto Blest Gana (1830-1920), the novel Martín Rivas, published as a serial-story in the Santiago newspaper La voz de Chile between May and July 1862, analyze a key motive of the Chilean narrative, which is repeated –even if with different nuances– from the first manifestations of realism to the so-called “literature of decrepitude” well into the sixties of the twentieth century. We are alluding to the representation of dichotomous separation between social classes through the description of physical spaces inhabited and used by citizens. The novel, whose full title is Martín Rivas. Novel of political and social customs, shows the will of its author to describe all the components of the national social mosaic and to represent the hierarchical structure in force in the mid-twentieth century. Our objective is to highlight how Blest Gana uses the description of the social landscape of the urban environment of Santiago as an instrument to reflect the binarism that opposes “those from above” to “those from below”, through two axes of the capital topography. On the one hand, the author suggests a first opposition related to the interior social landscapes: the one facing the lavish halls of the rich bourgeoisie (for which the author often uses the term “aristocracy”) to the humble abodes of the class defined as medio pelo (intermediate social class standing between the high bourgeoisie and the popular class). On the other hand, the novel reflects a second opposition related to the external social landscapes: it presents the different modes and uses of appropriation that the two classes make of the public spaces (especially the parks) destined to the representation of parties and ceremonies.

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