The book analyzes ways in which stable patterns of sexual identity are transgressed in a series of contemporary Latin American novels and stories. Attention is centered on the connection existing between a changing perception of the individual (sexual) and collective (political) subject, and evolving forms of literary expression as textual means of carrying out this transgression in the experimental narrative of Severo Sarduy (Cuba), Diamela Eltit (Chile), Osvaldo Lamborghini (Argentina) and Hilda Hilst (Brazil). The hypothesis points to the existence of a functional relationship between the transgressive sexual ambiguity of the androgynous characters, narrators and implicit authors who appear in each novel on the one hand, and, on the other, a narrative style characterized by exuberance and artifice (heavy use of ornamentation, poetic figures, imagery), linguistic and narrative experimentation, metafictional devices and parody. The analysis is focused on those stylistic and linguistic elements which disguise (or “cross-dress”) the conventional binary patterns of sexual identity, i.e. femininity and masculinity. The novels scrutinize the process of writing as a symbolic means for attaining sexual ambiguity, which in itself can be considered a form of political and cultural dissidence. These narrative techniques find their roots in the 17th century Spanish Baroque and in Latin American colonial literary traditions. In a contemporary context they become representative of a “neobaroque avant-garde” literary style. A poststructuralist semantic analysis of narrative discourse is combined with socio-historic, cultural studies based exploration deriving from postcolonial theory of the subject and feminist criticism. The concept of excess and transgression is related to ideas of George Bataille’s as well as to Michel Foucault’s theory on the discursive construction of sexuality. The book underscores the experimental qualities of neobaroque prose by four Latin American authors. By offering critical and analytical tools, it helps to advance a theory of the subject not yet formulated by scientific discourse nor accepted by society, and to understand some of the difficult aspects of a narrative style characterized by formal exuberance. Gender transgression, moreover, extends into political and cultural transgression. As a result, this work helps to identify a specific Latin American voice in the global discussion about changing national, cultural and individual identities of the postmodern subject.
|Number of pages||322|
|State||Published - Aug 20 2009|