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Arbol de Alejandra

Arbol de Alejandra: Pizarnik Reassessed

Edited by Fiona J. Mackintosh
with Karl Posso
Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 182
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  • Book Info
    Arbol de Alejandra
    Book Description:

    Thirty-five years after her death, this book reassesses the Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-72) in the light of recent publications of her 'complete' poetry and prose, diaries, and previously unavailable archive material. The essays in this volume explore Pizarnik's work from new angles: they examine her production as a literary critic, revealing her intense identificatory strategies as a reader, and the impact of such activities upon her own creative process. They also weigh up the influence of her ambiguous attitudes towards sexuality on her poetic personae, as well as the ways in which her concern with sex inspires her experimentation with humorous prose. New approaches are taken to key texts and themes: in the case of the much-studied work, 'La condesa sangrienta', through a detailed philosophical reading involving comparisons with Kafka, and, in the case of the theme of the split subject, through the lens of translation. By broadening the scope of Pizarnik studies, this book will act as a catalyst for further research into the work of this compelling poet. FIONA MACKINTOSH and KARL POSSO lecture in Hispanic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. OTHER CONTRIBUTORS: Susana Chávez Silverman, Evelyn Fishburn, Florinda F. Goldberg, Cristina Piña, Cecilia Rossi, Jason Wilson

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-516-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-ix)
    Fiona J. Mackintosh
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Fiona J. Mackintosh and Karl Posso

    In recent years Pizarnik has come to be widely acknowledged as a key figure within Argentinian literature. Born Flora Alejandra Pizarnik in 1936 in a Jewish immigrant district of Buenos Aires, Pizarnik rapidly evolved a distinctive poetic persona, the ‘personaje alejandrino’ (Correspondencia, p. 53). This poetic self fed off her intense and eclectic reading which spanned Golden Age Spanish poetry,poètes mauditssuch as Baudelaire and Rimbaud, surrealism, and the tortured worlds of Artaud and Kafka. The result was an accentuation of her latent feelings of estrangement, both from her immediate social environment and ultimately from language itself. In her...

  7. Gender, Sexuality and Silence(s) in the Writing of Alejandra Pizarnik
    (pp. 13-35)
    Susana Chávez Silverman

    Alejandra Pizarnik fashioned a complex textual self through a variety of genres and voices. The sense of the radical separateness between these voices has been a function of canonical and historical (and gendered) habits of reading – reified not least by the poet herself – which ultimately served as both duenna and closet, buttressing the notion of a schism between the public and private realms and maintaining the misconception of two radically discrete voices: the sombre, hieratic, disciplined, asexual lyric voice (for years the overdeterminedly ‘Pizarnikian’ voicepar excellence) versus the transgressive, humoristic, mainly hypersexualized prose voice. Only quite recently,...

  8. Different Aspects of Humour and Wordplay in the Work of Alejandra Pizarnik
    (pp. 36-59)
    Evelyn Fishburn

    Dark, sombre, black; angry, aggressive, corrosive; transgressive, iconoclastic; puerile, experimental, incomprehensible; surrealist, absurd; and above all, joyless. These are some of the words that come to mind most immediately when thinking about the difficult and painful topic of humour and Alejandra Pizarnik. There is not much, if any, in her poetry, which has meant that until recently humour was a neglected aspect of her writings, but the publication of her prose work, including her correspondence and diaries, has brought to our attention the significant role that humour played in her life and work. Pizarnik’s most important writings on humour can...

  9. The Tormenting Beauty of Ideals: A Deleuzian Interpretation of Alejandra Pizarnik’s La condesa sangrienta and Franz Kafka’s ‘In the Penal Colony’
    (pp. 60-76)
    Karl Posso

    Alejandra Pizarnik is notorious for a short prose work entitledLa condesa sangrienta, which, contrary to what is stated in the recently publishedProsa completa, first appeared in 1965 under the title ‘La libertad absoluta y el horror’.³ The story was then republished several times in various journals and eventually came out as a book in 1971, the year before Pizarnik committed suicide. Surprisingly, this piece, which Pizarnik claimed to be her best prose, started life as a humble book review (Diarios, pp. 464–5). A book review, however, which soon enough elides completely the ostensible object of its scrutiny,...

  10. Alejandra Pizarnik, Surrealism and Reading
    (pp. 77-90)
    Jason Wilson

    This essay will explore Alejandra Pizarnik’s years in Paris (1960–64) as a reader of surrealism at its source, and the effects this intense reading had on her work, specifically on the title piece from herExtracción de la piedra de locura(1968, but written in 1964). The inter-textual density of her work obviously implies careful reading on her part, and yet, paradoxically, her work appears to discard allusion and bookish matters to deal directly with her inner world and its fraught relationship with language, what Bernardo Ezequiel Koremblit called her ‘delatora transparencia’.¹ It could be that so much study,...

  11. Alejandra Pizarnik, the Perceptive Reader
    (pp. 91-109)
    Florinda F. Goldberg

    More than fifty years after the publication of her first collection of poetry and thirty-five years after her death, we are in a position to map out the route taken by criticism of Alejandra Pizarnik’s work. At first, critical interest was centred on her poetry (including the prose poems and narratives), and this continues to be the focus of many critical studies. Later, scholars and essayists turned their attention to her ‘heterodox’ prose texts, particularlyLa condesa sangrientaandLa bucanera de Pernambuco. In recent years, in response to the publication of theCorrespondencia, ProsaandDiarios, critical emphasis has...

  12. Alejandra Pizarnik’s ‘palais du vocabulaire’: Constructing the ‘cuerpo poético’
    (pp. 110-129)
    Fiona J. Mackintosh

    In this essay I should like to propose a reading of Pizarnik’s textual production and aesthetic preoccupations which links all aspects of her output. An examination of her ‘diarios de lectura’ (henceforth DL), which contain notes and critical analyses of her eclectic reading from Quevedo to Blanchot, and the notebooks of the ‘palais du vocabulaire’ (henceforth PV), in which she carefully records phrases from other writers’ work for her own poetic process, reveals a pattern which seems to underlie the apparently divergent facets of her work.¹ The pattern relates to what I see as the central problem in Pizarnik’s entire...

  13. Alejandra Pizarnik’s Poetry: Translating the Translation of Subjectivity
    (pp. 130-147)
    Cecilia Rossi

    This essay was part of a PhD thesis, submitted in 2006, which comprises the translation into English of Pizarnik’sPoesía completa, with the exception of the disowned early workLa tierra más ajena(1955).¹ In the first part, I explore Pizarnik’s subjectivity and her ambiguous positioning of the first-person subject in language. I then move on to a consideration of the practical difficulties that arise on a phonological and syntactical level for the translator of Pizarnik as a result of this often multiple persona.

    ‘Toda la noche espero que mi lenguaje logre configurarme’ Pizarnik says in the poem ‘L’Obscurité des...

  14. The ‘Complete’ Works of Alejandra Pizarnik? Editors and Editions
    (pp. 148-164)
    Cristina Piña

    Throughout the twentieth century there are numerous examples of polemics arising from posthumous editions of texts by culturally significant authors. Some of these polemics relate to what we – as Jacques Derrida puts it – conventionally call ‘literature’, and others to what we tend to denote as ‘intimate genres’, encompassing that peculiarly ambiguous space inhabited by correspondence, diaries, memoirs, notes and even marginal notes.² Pizarnik’s work – and I use that term in a Foucauldian sense,³ fully aware of the fact that we have no absolutely fixed idea of it – has joined the long list of examples, basically since...

    (pp. 165-166)
    Fiona J. Mackintosh and Karl Posso

    Owing to the wealth of material newly available, Pizarnik scholarship is now in a position to examine the poet’s working methods in greater detail. As this volume shows, Pizarnik’s intense activity as a reader – in particular as revealed through the notebooks of the ‘palais du vocabulaire’ and her critical essays – underpins all of her poetry, which is constantly entering into dialogue with the authors she read and reread, but which also cites itself repeatedly. As is also shown here, the diaries – both those published in 2003 and those in the Princeton archives not included in that selection...

    (pp. 167-172)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 173-173)