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Questing Fictions

Questing Fictions: Latin America’s Family Romance

Djelal Kadir
Foreword by Terry Cochran
Volume: 32
Copyright Date: 1986
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttv0q3
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  • Book Info
    Questing Fictions
    Book Description:

    Analyzes 20th-century Latin American fiction in the light of contemporary literary theory and focuses on the predicament of writers caught between the cultural domination of Europe and the need to strive for cultural autonomy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8245-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword History and Exile
    (pp. ix-xx)
    Terry Cochran

    Writing on Latin American literature is a task that often fails, for success is measured by the degree to which one’s conception undermines its own foundation. The failure relates to the way the project has inevitably been conceived: to see one’s task as that of establishing the specificity of Latin American literature means that in terms of historical development it is lagging behind other, already established literatures (namely those of the “developed,” or less “exotic,” world). The solution, however, is not to abandon the historical in favor of an explanatory model that takes for granted its specificity: as is often...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xxi-2)
    Dj. K.
  5. Chapter 1 Overture: Errant Landscape/Untimely Pilgrimage
    (pp. 3-38)

    Romance, Harold Bloom has taught us, is a journey toward home. Or, notes this agonistic Qabalist, “romance is a journey toward a supreme trial, after which home is possible, or else homelessness will suffice.”¹ In a highly suggestive way the fictions of Latin America, particularly in the last two or three decades, seem to vindicate this observation; for the “romance” of Latin America’s fictions is above all a family romance. It is a quest for beginnings whose vicissitudes go beyond a supreme trial to emerge as the strategy of a supreme fiction, a paradoxical supreme fiction that locates its “home”...

  6. Chapter 2 Borges’s Ghost Writer
    (pp. 39-69)

    The itinerary of my tracking after Borges turns upon the epigrammatic triptych I place at the head of this chapter. By “Borges” here I mean that measure of interstitial space between the triptych’s panels, the space where the pivoting hinges at once join and separate its threesome tables. My object consists in trailing that moot and problematic author — that inexistent speaker of this Borges epigraph and its ghostly demarcations — deployed by Borges the writer; the authorial trace that haunts as ghost, as spectral differential, that dwells in Borges the romancer’s obsession now as figure of ironic nostalgia, now as object...

  7. Chapter 3 Erotomania: Mexico’s Gothic Family Romance
    (pp. 70-85)

    Octavio Paz’s statement in our epigraph refers to the work of a fellow Mexican, Carlos Fuentes’sThe Death of Artemio Cruz.¹Another Mexican novel, Juan Rulfo’sPedro Páramo,²proves a justifiable companion to the context of Paz’s assertion. I aim here to focus on these two works and on the Paz apothegm through that dark glass which tradition has willed to us as the Gothic romance — a haunting pleonasm whose redundancy resides in the eros, or questing desire, inherent in both terms. I shall pursue specifically the Mexican figuration of this topos.

    As poet and erudite essayist, as a self-consciously...

  8. Chapter 4 Baroque, or the Untenable Ground: Quest as Self-Reminiscence
    (pp. 86-104)

    Partial by definition, flawed of necessity, tautological as insufficiency, the baroque is the surfeit of eccentric fragmentation. Pearl with a bias,ostracizedsemi-preciosity, it seeks after the other half, striving for the bivalve, the vacated space, the home of pre-excrescency. In compensatory self-indulgence the baroque proliferates its cloying mannerism, substituting redolent paraphrase as hedge against primogenial emptiness become abysmal void:horror vacui.

    Art of compensation for an originary and perpetual exclusion, the baroque is the language of prodigal and prodigious substitution. Nostalgic for anostos,yearning for a homing, the trajectory of its quest is rendered as its own spectral...

  9. Chapter 5 The Quest’s Impossible Self-Seeking
    (pp. 105-140)

    It is a commonplace that Latin American literature, like its Anglo-American counterpart to the north, is a belated literature with an acute awareness of its own belated status. Since the earliest chroniclers of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, as we have already seen in our opening chapter, writing in Latin America manifests a self-conscious insight into its own belatedness. It is, after all, a writing whose problematic “beginnings” are contemporaneous with a self-dubbed secondary birth, the Renaissance, and, just as significantly, it is the discourse of a “voyage of discovery” which, for those errant questers who endured the...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 143-150)
  11. Index
    (pp. 153-163)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 164-164)