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The Representation of the Political in Selected Writings of Julio Cortázar

The Representation of the Political in Selected Writings of Julio Cortázar

Series: Monografías A
Volume: 325
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    The Representation of the Political in Selected Writings of Julio Cortázar
    Book Description:

    The book analyses the evolution of the representation of distinct political elements throughout Cortázar's writings, mainly with reference to the novels and the so-called collage books, which have so far received only limited critical attention. The author also alludes to some short stories and refers to many of Cortázar's non-literary texts. Through this chosen corpus, the book follows a thematic thread, showing that politics was present in Cortázar's fiction from his very first writings, and not - as he himself tended to claim - only following his conversion to socialism. The study aims to show that contrary to what many critics have argued, this political conversion did not divide the writer into an irreconcilable before and after - the apolitical versus the political -, but rather it simply shifted the emphasis of the representation of the political that already existed in Cortázar's writings. Carolina Orloff is an independent scholar working on research projects in the UK and in Argentina.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-136-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. viii-ix)

    This book analyses the evolution of the representation of distinct political elements through Julio Cortázar’s writings, mainly with reference to the novels and the so-called collage books. I also allude to some short stories and refer to many of Cortázar’s non-literary texts. Through this corpus, I trace a thematic thread showing that politics was present in Cortázar’s fiction from his very first writings, and not – as the prevalent criticism and himself have tended to claim – only following his conversion to socialism after a life-changing trip to revolutionary Cuba. My analysis aims to show that in opposition to what...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Guillermo Martínez
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The motivation for this book arose from reading Julio Cortázar’s Libro de Manuel and noticing a remarkable lack of criticism on that novel. It became clear that it was a book that critics remained reluctant to analyse in detail. In general, the novel is seen as exemplifying the ‘politicised’ Cortázar, the implication being that the politicisation process resulted in a deterioration of literary quality. This corresponds to the broader critical interpretative trend, whereby critics seem to accept unquestioningly Cortázar’s own understanding that his first trip to revolutionary Cuba divided his personal life into a drastic before and after, into an...

  7. 1 The Anti-Peronist Years
    (pp. 13-68)

    The Manichean view of Cortázar’s oeuvre regarding the division between his apolitical versus political texts is largely reflected in the critical writing on his early works. For example, Graciela Maturo, in her analysis, Julio Cortázar y el hombre nuevo, provides a detailed description of Divertimento and El examen, yet she makes no tangible connection between these novels and politics or, more specifically, Peronism.¹ Likewise, regarding the short stories in Bestiario, Mercedes Rein asserts that ‘no se justifica demasiado una interpretación metafísica, menos aún […] una interpretación ética o política de esos cuentos’.² Continuing in this vein, Alfred Mac Adam states,...

  8. 2 Action versus Inaction
    (pp. 69-110)

    Whereas in the case of El examen and Los premios, ideological criticism of a specific political hegemony, namely, Peronism, is undertaken through an allegorical representation, in the case of Rayuela, the political element is present within a very broad sense of the meaning of politics, as opposed to the specificity of a given political ideology. This political element is primarily located in the ethical dilemmas of the novel’s protagonist, Horacio Oliveira. As he reflects upon ethical, ideological and political concerns, and as he sinks into an attitude of passive acquiescence towards life, the reader – who thanks to Cortázar’s constant...

  9. 3 Literature in the Revolution
    (pp. 111-155)

    The publication of Rayuela gave Cortázar extraordinary prominence on the Latin American and also international cultural scene. This largely coincided with Cortázar’s ‘conversion’ to socialism, catalysed by his first encounter with Castro’s Cuba. Based largely on his political adherence, critics and fellow writers constructed the image of the ‘politicised Cortázar’, marking a turning point in the understanding of him as a public figure but also of his fictional writings. The analysis thus far has tried to show that the so-called politicisation of Cortázar, and seemingly also of his literature, has been somewhat mythologised, and not just by critics, but also...

  10. 4 Converging ‘Lenin with Rimbaud’
    (pp. 156-195)

    In 1970, during a series of debates between Oscar Collazos, Mario Vargas Llosa and Cortázar on the function of literature and the writer within the socialist revolution, Cortázar wrote: ‘Uno de los más agudos problemas latinoamericanos es que estamos necesitando más que nunca los Che Guevara del lenguaje, los revolucionarios de la literatura, más que los literatos de la revolución.’¹ With hindsight, and through extensive study of Cortázar’s letters and other paratexts, this assertion seems to have been more concerned with rejection of the so-called ‘coleópteros’ and their rigid, inflexible kind of literature, than with working towards a way of...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 196-200)

    Guillermo Martínez’s anecdote, which prefaces this book, epitomises the current critical reception of Julio Cortázar, at least insofar as Argentina is concerned. As Roberto Ferro put it, it seems that the days of Cortázar as a ‘gran escritor’ ended with the publication of Libro de Manuel, and with the labelling of Cortázar as a ‘political writer’. The contradictions manifested within Cortázar’s construction of his image are to an extent perpetuated in an episode at a book fair in Buenos Aires in 2009. There, the very same writers who were paying tribute to Cortázar in the round-table discussion were simultaneously declaring...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-216)
  13. Index
    (pp. 217-224)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 225-225)