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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