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Juan Carlos Onetti, Manuel Puig and Luisa Valenzuela

Juan Carlos Onetti, Manuel Puig and Luisa Valenzuela: Marginality and Gender

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 190
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  • Book Info
    Juan Carlos Onetti, Manuel Puig and Luisa Valenzuela
    Book Description:

    Onetti, Puig and Valenzuela have not had the same level of international acclaim as Borges, García Márquez or Vargas Llosa, but they are equally intellectually challenging, and their work adds much to the breadth and depth of twentieth-century Latin American literature. This book starts with Onetti's first novella, the intricate, fragmented El pozo, and finishes with Valenzuela's Cola de lagartija, a strange, quasi-baroque work of dark humour and powerful political overtones. It has separate sections on each of the three writers, which balance close readings of selected passages with tightly woven theoretical analysis. The fact that this set of texts is from a specific time and place, the Cono Sur from 1939 to 1983, gives the work intellectual coherence; and it is methodologically consistent in its use of a set of co-ordinates from, amongst other sources, psychoanalytic and feminist theory, from Lacan, Irigaray and Kristeva, which are integrated into the vision of the novels as they are analysed. Onetti, Puig and Valenzuela are seldom viewed together, but Craig argues that their common geography and history are crucial, and that these particular writers share and explore in their work a post-colonial emptiness, a constant questioning of realism and a love of tango. LINDA CRAIG is Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of East London.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-406-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
    (pp. 1-4)

    The idea of borderlines, of existences lived on the margins, informs this work throughout and in many different ways. The borders might be geographical, imaginary, psychological or based on issues around gender, they take many forms, but they are crucial to the thinking involved; and I believe that the first of these ideas, geography, is implicated in all of them.

    The three writers whose work is analysed here are from the River Plate region in the southern cone of South America. Juan Carlos Onetti (1909–1994) is from Uruguay and Manuel Puig (1932–90) and Luisa Valenzuela (b. 1937) are...

  4. Part I: Juan Carlos Onetti

    • 1 El pozo (1939)
      (pp. 7-26)

      The historical beginning ofEl pozo² is actually the earliest incident recounted from the protagonist’s life. It takes the form of a strange scene at a New Year’s party, in which he, bored with the festivities, tricks Ana María, a girl towards whom he feels a mixture of hatred and attraction, into going to the gardener’s shed with him. Once he has got her there, he attacks her.

      As in the above quotation from Foucault, the concept of an origin is not arrived at by means of peeling back layers in order to reveal an original essence. Rather what is...

    • 2 Juntacadáveres (1964)
      (pp. 27-45)

      Juntacadáveres¹ was published, three years afterEl astillero(1961), the novel I shall be looking at in the following chapter. My reason for choosing to work on what is apparently the later novel first is this: like many of Onetti’s works, these two share virtually the same setting and some of the same protagonists, but in terms of plot,El astilleroactually follows on fromJuntacadáveres. In an interview with Emir Rodríguez Monegal (1973), Onetti talked of this apparent anomaly, saying: ‘Yo estaba escribiendoJuntacadáveresy la llevaba más que mediada cuando de pronto, por una de ésas (uno puede...

    • 3 El astillero (1961)
      (pp. 46-66)

      In a work entitledThe Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, Jean-François Lyotard (1986: 80), notes a certain dichotomy within the realms of the avant-garde of which he says:

      What I have in mind will become clear if we dispose very schematically a few names on the chessboard of the history of avant-gardes: on the side of melancholia, the German Expressionists, and on the side ofnovatio, Braque and Picasso, on the former Malevitch and on the latter Lissitsky, on the one Chirico and on the other Duchamp. The nuance which distinguishes these two modes may be infinitesimal; they often...

  5. Part II: Manuel Puig

    • 4 La traición de Rita Hayworth (1968)
      (pp. 69-88)

      If many of Onetti’s novels and stories are set in the fictional hinterland of Santa María, imagined, and more important as a symbolic structure than as an actual place, Puig’s first novel,La traición de Rita Hayworth² is set in a much more concrete reality. This is Coronel Vallejos, clearly based on the town in the Province of Buenos Aires where Puig was brought up, General Villegas. And if Onetti was to effect a radical shift in literature from this region, then Puig was to do the same though in a very different way. To quote one of the foremost...

    • 5 Boquitas pintadas (1969)
      (pp. 89-106)

      Boquitas pintadas¹ has some elements in common withLa traición de Rita Hayworth; it is set in the same environment, Coronel Vallejos in the late 1930s, and the stifling parochialism of the first novel is still very much apparent. Moreover both novels are written in the form of different voices often recounting the same situations from different points of view. But there is a number of notable differences. The approach is, if anything, more experimental; the images of Hollywood are replaced by national cultural models, for example in the form of the tango, and by thefolletín; and the concept...

  6. Part III: Luisa Valenzuela

    • 6 Hay que sonreír (1966)
      (pp. 109-129)

      AlthoughHay que sonreír² was published in 1966, it was actually written some years previously. As Valenzuela explains in an interview with Albalú Angel (1984: 3): ‘Me casé a los veinte años y me fui a vivir a Francia, y tuve una hija muy pronto. Y entonces las horas de la siesta de mi hija – tenía meses – yo escribía’ [I married at the age of twenty and went to live in France, and I had a daughter very early. And while she had her nap – she was only months old – I would write]. The novel was...

    • 7 El gato eficaz (1972)
      (pp. 130-146)

      Valenzuela says of this, her second novel:

      Para mí la obra más divertida y más extraña de mi zoológico, esEl gato eficaz. Porque fue el momento de la ruptura con lo que podía llamarse cierta ‘literatura tradicional’. Es cuando encuentro mi propia voz que estaba buscando.¹

      [For me the funniest and strangest book in my zoology isEl gato eficaz, because it was the moment of the break with what might be called traditional literature. It’s when I find my own voice, what I was looking for].

      In a sense it might be seen as Valenzuela’s version of Rimbaud’s...

    • 8 Cola de lagartija (1983)
      (pp. 147-165)

      Cola de lagartija¹ is quite different from the other novels studied here in the sense that, rather than being purely a work of fiction, it is a work whose central protagonists are based on true historical characters. The identity of these characters and the relationship or play between them and their fictional counterparts will be explored in different parts of this chapter.

      The novel, echoingHay que sonreír, is divided into three sections, and as is the case with the earlier novel, these sections and their titles are crucial to an understanding of the work. I shall therefore outline what...

  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 166-175)

    The aim of this work has been to look at marginality and gender as presented in the novels of Onetti, Valenzuela and Puig. These issues are enormous and many-faceted. They can at times be read as quite distinct and separate areas of thought, while at others they intertwine or even overlap to the extent of becoming one and the same.

    While I have not taken a specifically historical approach, the three writers do come from a similar period and geographical area. The novels examined span the forty-five years from 1939 (El pozo) to 1983 (Cola de lagartija), although they are...

  8. Works Cited
    (pp. 176-182)
  9. Index
    (pp. 183-184)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 185-185)