Fictions of Totality

Fictions of Totality: The Mexican Novel, 1968, and the National-Popular State

Ryan F. Long
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Purdue University Press
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  • Book Info
    Fictions of Totality
    Book Description:

    The Mexican government's brutal repression of the Student Movement of 1968 in the infamous Massacre of Tlatelolco exposed and exacerbated a serious crisis of political legitimacy. This study examines the cultural impact of this watershed event through historically contextualized readings of five paradigmatic novels: Carlos Fuentes's La region mas transparente (1958), Fernando del Paso's Jose Trigo (1966), Maria Luisa Mendoza's Con el, conmigo, con nosotros tres (1971), Jorge Aguilar Mora's Si muero lejos de ti (1979), and Hector Aguilar Camin's Morir en el golfo (1986).

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-123-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Between the 1950s and the 1980s, Mexico experienced a significant political and economic transition, from a national-popular to a neoliberal state model. Broadly speaking, the first model promoted the development of domestic industries and markets in order to achieve national independence; the second proposes that integration into the global marketplace is the only feasible solution to Mexico’s stubborn social inequalities and economic woes (González Casanova; Lustig; Mota; Székely,Economía). A significant epistemological consequence of this transition was registered in a specific form of cultural production, the totalizing novel. Through ideological constructions of what the Mexican nation was or was meant...

  5. Chapter One The Revolution Will Be Novelized: Carlos Fuentes’s La región más transparente Constructs a Compensatory Totality
    (pp. 15-48)

    The principal action of Carlos Fuentes’sLa región más transparente(1958) takes place between 1951 and 1954 in Mexico City. An anonymous omniscient narrator shifts constantly from one story to the next. As a result, the reader gradually becomes familiar with numerous characters spanning the class spectrum who struggle, and almost always fail, to find their place within an unforgiving, rapidly changing society: abracerorealizes he cannot easily return home after working in the United States; a taxi driver’s accidental death leaves his family in dire financial straits; street performers traverse the growing capital city, scraping by and barely...

  6. Chapter Two Animating the Popular: Fernando del Paso’s José Trigo and the Ruins of Totalizing Thought
    (pp. 49-80)

    José Trigo(1966), Fernando del Paso’s first novel, relates fictional accounts of three significant historical moments of post-Revolutionary Mexico: the Cristero Rebellion of 1926–29, the railroad workers’ movement of 1958–59, and, to a lesser but still important degree, the 1964 urban renewal project that transformed Mexico City’s northern district of Nonoalco-Tlatelolco. The novel recounts these events within a framing story that tells the tale of an anonymous first-person narrator who visits the train yards of Nonoalco-Tlatelolco on at least two occasions, January 11 and December 26 of an unspecified, long-ago leap year.¹ It is unclear whether he is...

  7. Chapter Three The Stained Plaza: María Luisa Mendoza’s Con Él, conmigo, con nosotros tres and the Origins of the Mestizo Nation
    (pp. 81-116)

    María Luisa Mendoza’s first novel,Con Él, conmigo, con nosotros tres(1971), is one of the earliest literary interpretations of the Tlatelolco massacre. A fictionalized, multi-perspective, semi-autobiographical account subtitled “cronovela,”Con Élcombines narrative and chronicle by telling the story of its protagonist, Delfina Zebadúa Latino, alongside journalistic and poetic descriptions of October 2 and its immediate aftermath.¹ Delfina, a young woman who lives in an apartment overlooking the Plaza of the Three Cultures during the Student Movement and on the night of the massacre, responds to Tlatelolco by trying desperately to write down her thoughts about Mexico and the...

  8. Chapter Four Totality in Post-Tlatelolco Mexico: Subjectivity and Interpellation in Jorge Aguilar Mora’s Si muero lejos de ti
    (pp. 117-150)

    Jorge Aguilar Mora’s second novel,Si muero lejos de ti(1979), tells a remarkable and strange story about violence and paintings set in Mexico City during the Student Movement of 1968 and the years following the Tlatelolco massacre. Its protagonist, Yoris, is a young artist who struggles to maintain relationships with his friends and lovers, and to understand the meaning of his life during a period of Mexico’s history defined by trauma and repression, both physical and psychological. A nomadic figure, Yoris traverses a dangerous cityscape populated by brutal police, paramilitary thugs, and intimidated or apathetic citizens doing their best...

  9. Chapter Five The “Machine of Savage Stories” State, Fiction, and Totality in Héctor Aguilar Camín’s Morir en el golfo
    (pp. 151-182)

    The unnamed narrator of Héctor Aguilar Camín’s first novel,Morir en el golfo(1986), is a journalist who finds himself wrapped up in the investigation of a series of what appear to be politically motivated murders. In March 1976 his erstwhile friend Francisco Rojano Gutiérrez shows the narrator a number of grisly photographs of the victims and explains that he (Rojano) could be next in line. Persuaded as much by Rojano’s fear as by his interest in Rojano’s wife Anabela Guillamín, another old friend, the narrator agrees to write about the murders in his newspaper column, operating under the assumption...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 183-186)

    The totalizing novel is the product of a centralized society whose goal is coherent, self-contained autonomy. Carlos Fuentes’sLa región más transparenterepresents this ideal in its exhaustive effort to contain all of Mexico’s history within its pages and to present itself—and by extension the genre of the totalizing novel—as uniquely capable of transmitting that history, thereby setting the stage for a more promising future based on national self-knowledge and an epistemology that is able to produce that knowledge and reproduce itself. Yet the exclusive foundations of totalizing thought stubbornly make themselves known, at the limit of Fuentes’s...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 187-202)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 203-216)
  13. Index
    (pp. 217-223)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 224-225)