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Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits Trilogy

Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits Trilogy: Narrative Geographies

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 206
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  • Book Info
    Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits Trilogy
    Book Description:

    Allende's very popular novels have attracted both critical approval and opprobrium, often at the expense of genuine analysis. This sophisticated study explores the narrative architecture of Allende's House of the Spirits (1982), Daughter of Fortune (1999), and Portrait in Sepia (2000) as a trilogy, proposing that the places created in these novels subvert the patriarchal norms that have governed politics, sexuality, and ethnicity. Rooted in the Foucauldian premise that the history of space is essentially the history of power, and supported by Susan Stanford Friedman's cultural geographies of encounter as well as Gloria Anzaldúa's study of borderlands, this study shows that, by rejecting traditional spatial hierarchies, Allende's trilogy systematically deterritorializes the elite while shifting the previously marginalized to the physical and thematic centers of her works. This movement provides the narrative energy which draws the reader into Allende's universe, and sustains the 'good story' for which she has been universally acclaimed. KAREN WOOLEY MARTIN is Associate Professor of Spanish at Union University, Jackson, Tennessee.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-811-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)

    A geographically-rooted reading of the novelistic trilogy formed byLa casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits ), Hija de la fortuna (Daughter of Fortune ), andRetrato en sepia (Portrait in Sepia)reveals that Isabel Allende’s fiction subverts masculinist and authoritarian domination of political, ethnic, sexual, and even textual spaces, as it converts these sites into contact zones to be contested, renegotiated, usurped, or appropriated by marginalized groups. Read from a spatial perspective, Allende’s re-writing of the center implies a revolutionary process, since, as Michel Foucault has noted, “the history of space [is] . . . the...

  5. 1 Roots and Routes to Utopia: Imagined Geographies in Isabel Allende’s Fictional Universe
    (pp. 1-24)

    Isabel Allende’s works have been translated into twenty-seven languages and have attained best-seller status in the United States, Australia, and numerous European and Latin American countries. As highly-regarded Argentine author Mempo Giardinelli has observed, Allende is the rare author who inspires both popular and critical acclaim: “Allende es el único caso que concita el interés del mercado y de la academia”¹ (“ Siempre”). The Allende phenomenon began in 1982 with the publication ofLa casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits ), which Donald Shaw considers “without question the major literary event in Spanish America during the early...

  6. 2 Literary Geographies, Borderlands, and the Boundaries of Identity
    (pp. 25-45)

    Given the trilogy’s repeated crossings of three continents, in terms both of mapped spaces and of her characters’ own bodyspaces, and Allende’s predilection for playing out narrative action in complex and contradictory sites – the brothel, the battlefield, the frontier, the stage, the labyrinthine home, the photographer’s studio, the basement, the ship’s belly, to name only a few – her works practically cry out for a spatial analysis. This chapter will review and synthesize the work of cultural geographers and literary critics who together provide a framework for a kinesthetically based approach to narrative, one which calls into question the supposed neutrality...

  7. 3 Mapping Ethnicity: Race, Class, and Mobility in the Trilogy’s Newer Narratives
    (pp. 46-78)

    As was discussed in greater detail in the first two chapters of this study, the trilogy formed byLa casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits), Hija de la fortuna (Daughter of Fortune), andRetrato en sepia (Portrait in Sepia)presents a unified saga of six families, three continents, and 130 years of political and cultural history. The novels’ progressiveWeltanschauungaddresses such politically-charged topics as immigration, exile, war, colonization, independence, Marxist revolution, and military dictatorship within the geographic and cultural frameworks of the Southern Cone and the California borderlands of the nineteenth-century Gold Rush. Throughout the texts,...

  8. 4 La casa de los espíritus: Navigating Socio-Political Borderlands in House and Nation
    (pp. 79-103)

    AlthoughLa casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits)never explicitly identifies the country or the precise dates in which it is set, the text is clearly a portrait of Chile from the earliest decades of the twentieth century through 1973 or 1974. In one of the earliest studies ofCasa (House), Hija de la fortuna (Daughter of Fortune)andRetrato en Sepia (Portrait in Sepia)as a trilogy, Eliana Rivero establishes 1910–73 as the narrated time period, and critics have generally accepted this view.¹ In her intriguing study of the re-centering of national history through female...

  9. 5 Gendered Spaces and Border Crossings: Body/space in the Trilogy
    (pp. 104-144)

    In the introduction to her landmark studyBodies that Matter, Judith Butler expands upon the Foucauldian view of sex as a “regulatory ideal,” a notion that clearly ties into our study of the marginalized body’s struggle for agency and mobility in the face of culturally-rooted barriers erected to restrict or control it. As she notes, “ ‘sex’ not only functions as a norm, but is part of a regulatory practice that produces the bodies it governs, that is, whose regulatory force is made clear as a kind of productive power, the power to produce – demarcate, circulate, differentiate – the bodies it...

  10. 6 Transcendent Spaces: Writing and Photography in the Trilogy
    (pp. 145-170)

    The metaphoric or symbolic space of text – both written and photographed – is a primary site within the trilogy for subversion of class-and gender-based borders. This chapter explores the role of women’s discourse, which has traditionally been marginalized or dismissed as frivolous by patriarchal power structures, as a means of carving out space and authority for the female voice. Within the trilogy, writing and photography function as passports, either by allowing the female protagonist herself to achieve physical mobility or by allowing her message to travel across political and cultural borders. In many ways, textual spaces synthesize and resolve the border...

    (pp. 171-176)

    As we have attempted to demonstrate in the preceding chapters, Isabel Allende’s writings propose a contestation and reconfiguration of social hierarchies that have traditionally delineated society according to clase, race, sexuality, or political views. Despite certain elitist authors’ and critics’ fondness for dismissing Allende as popular or naïve, a careful reading of her body of fiction reveals that it systematically dismantles hegemonic categories and binary logic, as such meeting the objectives of many of the postcolonial writers who besmirch her works. As noted critic Philip Swanson points out, if the postcolonial project in its essence insists on progress by means...

    (pp. 177-186)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 187-194)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-195)