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Dialectics of Exile

Dialectics of Exile: Nation, Time, Language, and Space in Hispanic Literatures

Sophia A. McClennen
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  • Book Info
    Dialectics of Exile
    Book Description:

    The Dialectics of Exile: Nation, Time, Language and Space in Hispanic Literatures offers a theory of exile writing that accounts for the persistence of these dual impulses and for the ways that they often co exist within the same literary works.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-018-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. A Note on Citations and Translations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  2. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    My research on exile began in the late 1990s and coincided with an increased scholarly interest in the exile as a metaphor for a new phase of social alienation. We heard of the theorist as exile, of inner exile, cultural migrancy, nomadism, dislocation, etc. The exile floated through texts by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Jacques Derrida, Edward Said, and Homi Bhabha, spilling onto the pages of many analyses of particular literary works. Much in the same way that the term “diaspora” has come to refer to people without national ties, the exile was, and often still is, described as...

  3. CHAPTER TWO The Dialectics of Exile: Towards a Theory of Exile Writing
    (pp. 29-34)

    The history of the dialectic and dialectical thinking is as long as the history of exile. We find early examples of dialectics in the ancient philosophy of the Greeks, especially in the work of Aristotle and Heraclitus, who taught, “everything is in flux,” and the Chinese, whose conceptions ofyinandyangdescribe life as interpenetrating dualisms (“Definitions of Dialectics”). Dialectic’s etymology from Greek “dialego,” meaning to discuss or debate, highlights the ways the term was used to describe a process of analysis that assessed problems from many perspectives, taking into account opposing and contradictory points of view, in order...

  4. CHAPTER THREE Alien Nation
    (pp. 35-57)

    Graham Baker’s filmAlien Nationleaves the viewer with a central dilemma: why is the movie a horror film? In fact, given the absurd characterization of the “newcomers,” the film leans toward humor. Apart from the final scenes, the film is not scary. Or is it? Perhaps the fear is of thealien nation:the film suggests that many of the pivotal issues relating to exile, nationalism, and cultural identity are inseparable frommasscultural fear. Yet how can the nation be alien or of aliens? Do aliens bring their nation with them and threaten their host, making home look...

  5. CHAPTER FOUR Exile’s Time
    (pp. 58-118)

    Given that exile often forces travel to new lands that speak foreign languages, many scholars have focused on the problems of spatial displacement and linguistic estrangement in the cultural production of exiles. Amy Kaminsky, inReading the Body Politic,draws the connection between spatial displacement and a crisis of language for the exiled writer: “Exile is dislocation, both physical and psychic. The exile is a stranger, not seen, misperceived. The departure into absence of exile contains and will foster a will to return to presence. The exile’s writing aims to win back the land; its longed-for destination is that one...

  6. CHAPTER FIVE To Be Is Not to Be: Exile and the Crisis of Linguistic Representation
    (pp. 119-162)

    Spanish expresses “to be” with two distinct verbs: “ser” and “estar.” The dichotomy that the exile faces of, for instance, being Chilean—ser chileno (to be Chilean)—and not being in Chile—no estar en Chile (to not be in Chile)—seems to be exacerbated by these two verbal forms: soy de donde no estoy (I am from where I am not). Or as the Cuban exile Octavio Armand has put it, “ser es dejar de estar” (“to be [someone] is not to be [somewhere]”). In the case of the Spanish-speaking exile, to be is not to be, and that...

  7. CHAPTER SIX Lost in Space: The Geography of Exile
    (pp. 163-203)

    A frequent theme in science fiction is that of the lost community unable to return to its original home. The spaceship-wrecked, although they are dreaming of return, must learn to create an alternative “home.” For instance, the television seriesLost in Spacerevolved around the travails of a family on a space mission that, due to faulty technology, was unable to return home. The extraterrestrial home that the Robinson family created seemed to function fairly well; and this appeased concerns over the integrity of the traditional family that plagued U.S. society during the 1960s. Nevertheless, this recurrent theme in science...

  8. CHAPTER SEVEN Culture Shock
    (pp. 204-221)

    Goytisolo’s, Dorfman’s, and Peri Rossi’s dialectical descriptions of nation, time, language, and space lead them to create complex theories of cultural identity. Their intricate relationship to many of the terms commonly applied to questions of cultural identity allows for insight into some of the most pressing issues concerning cultural politics. Much cultural theory rests on a series of binary oppositions—assimilation versus dissimilation, identity politics versus multiculturalism, essentialism versus free will, etc. Exile literature tests the limits of these binaries and reveals that they operate in society according to dialectic tensions rather than mutually exclusive categories of cultural existence. For...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 222-224)

    The literature of exiles is vast and varied. Yet, despite differences in historical period and geographical context, certain tropes and literary motifs reappear throughout these texts. The central conflicts in exile writing are never resolved: they persist throughout this literature in varying forms and in varying degrees. The tendency to parse these tensions into binaries has led many scholars to emphasize one element of a multifaceted dialectic. However, this book has shown that a dialectical approach allows one to identify and analyze all of the various forces in tension in a given work. In this way, the analysis of exile...