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Writing Travel

The Work of Roberto Bolaño and Juan José Saer

by Guadalupe Gerardi (Author)
Monographs X, 178 Pages

Summary

Writing Travel investigates the ways in which two major Latin American authors, Roberto Bolaño and Juan José Saer, engage with travel and space in their literary work. Travel and space are structures of representation within which cultural traditions are interrogated, reassessed and reformulated and therefore fundamental to the understanding of the critical fabric of the texts themselves. The book enquires into the politics of representation in Bolaño’s and Saer’s work and the cultural and ideological implications at stake in «writing travel». Writing Travel comprises the first scholarly study of the work of Roberto Bolaño and Juan José Saer, with a focus on the thematic and formal representation of travel and space in their literature. It is an important contribution to the existing knowledge on the novels of the two authors, examining key and understudied aspects of their work.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cite
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Desert Landscapes: A Travelling Dialogue with the Nation in Juan José Saer’s Las nubes
  • Chapter 2 Stray Journeys: Travel in Roberto Bolaño’s Los detectives salvajes
  • Chapter 3 Juan José Saer’s El entenado and the Failures of the Conquest
  • Chapter 4 Hidden in a Desert Cave: Reading and Disclosure in Roberto Bolaño’s 2666
  • Chapter 5 The Event of Literature: A Reading of the Desert and Migration in Juan José Saer’s La ocasión
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series Index

Guadalupe Gerardi

Writing Travel

The Work of Roberto Bolaño and Juan José Saer

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Peter Lang

Oxford • Bern • Berlin • Bruxelles • New York • Wien

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche National-

bibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

A CIP catalog record for this book has been applied for at the Library of Congress.

Cover image: An Aerial Panorama of Sonora, Mexico, © 2017 Derrick Neill, used under licence from Adobe Stock.

ISSN 1662-1794

ISSN 978-3-0343-2215-7 (print) • ISSN 978-1-78874-216-0 (ePDF)

ISSN 978-1-78874-217-7 (ePub) • ISSN 978-1-78874-218-4 (mobi)

© Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers, Bern 2019

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This publication has been peer reviewed.

About the author

Dr Guadalupe Gerardi is a Lecturer in Hispanic American Literature at the University of Oxford.

About the book

Writing Travel investigates the ways in which two major Latin American authors, Roberto Bolaño and Juan José Saer, engage with travel and space in their literary work. Travel and space are structures of representation within which cultural traditions are interrogated, reassessed and reformulated and therefore fundamental to the understanding of the critical fabric of the texts themselves. The book enquires into the politics of representation in Bolaño’s and Saer’s work and the cultural and ideological implications at stake in ‘writing travel’. Writing Travel comprises the first scholarly study of the work of Roberto Bolaño and Juan José Saer, with a focus on the thematic and formal representation of travel and space in their literature. It is an important contribution to the existing knowledge on the novels of the two authors, examining key and understudied aspects of their work.

This eBook can be cite

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Acknowledgements

In completing this book, which originated when I was a PhD student at University College London, I have been very fortunate in receiving help and advice, so generously given, from a number of people. I am especially grateful to my supervisor and friend, Claire Lindsay, for her dedicated guidance, priceless support and encouragement. I would like to thank Niall Binns, Nick Caistor, Jason Wilson, Enrique Mareque, Anna Wilson, María del Pilar Blanco, Philip Swanson and especially my father, all of whom offered thought-provoking feedback, recommending material and discussing the ideas in this book. I am grateful to the anonymous reviewer from Peter Lang and to Francis Lough, who offered valuable suggestions and helped to shape the final version of this book. I must also express my appreciation of the support of the Arts and Humanities Reserch Council, whose award of a three-year doctoral studentship made the completion of the thesis possible in the first place. Any errors that are found herein are mine alone.←ix | x→ ←x | 1→

Introduction

In a speech delivered by Roberto Bolaño in Vienna in 2000, he stated that, for writers, the only existing motherland was their own library. In his view, he added, the commonly heard nostalgia for the motherland always sounded like a lie.1 Bolaño then went on to question and debunk links between exile, nation and literature. As in this speech, in his fictional work Bolaño also engages with ‘motherlands’, and his approach to ways of conceiving national territories is at times transgressive. But despite the directness of Bolaño’s remarks in his speech, and the innovative ways in which he treats the nation in his fiction, his literature remains entangled in long-standing cultural dilemmas and controversies around notions of the nation and literature in Latin America. A similar note can qualify Juan José Saer’s work, which takes a specific area of Argentina as its main significant setting, while questioning the legitimacy of notions of literature in relation to the nation. For instance, in ‘Literatura y crisis argentina’ [Argentine Literature and Crisis], Saer affirms that great literature overcomes classificatory systems, such as that of national literature, and reduces local circumstances to just one of many literary elements. In his view, writers even create their literature from a personal stand ‘una y otra vez sin tener en cuenta ni la expectativa de su audiencia ni los cambios de situación’ [time and again overlooking the expectations of readers and changes of location].2 In ‘El escritor argentino en su tradición’ [The Argentine Writer in His Tradition], Saer tones down the importance of the individual in forging their own literature but highlights that literary traditions are constantly changing and that loose←1 | 2→ social and political commonalities between cultures, such as the experience of violence and uncertainty, can create a common ground for a tradition to be used and seized by another.3

Notwithstanding these authors’ common aversion to links between the national and their work, their territories of birth and the journeys laid across them are fundamental tropes in their literature. Moreover, both Bolaño’s and Saer’s oeuvres offer powerful re-readings of the narratives of travel that have influenced the territorial and cultural contours of those nations. The fiction of these two authors seems to suggest that travel and space (even national) are key in their writing, but that those features are not directly conducive to the consideration of their literature as national. Confusing, false and unrealistic are just some of the labels Bolaño and Saer hang on national classifications of literature. To be sure, their discussions seek not only to be controversial, but to broaden and reconfigure conceptions of literature as influenced by the nation, reformulating the relationship between the two, which has bound Latin American literature since the nineteenth century.

Details

Pages
X, 178
ISBN (PDF)
9781788742160
ISBN (ePUB)
9781788742177
ISBN (MOBI)
9781788742184
ISBN (Softcover)
9783034322157
Language
English
Publication date
2019 (May)
Tags
Latin American literature Juan José Saer Travel literature Writing Travel The desert Latin America Cultural Studies Politics of representation Space Roberto Bolaño
Published
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2019. X, 178 pp.

Biographical notes

Guadalupe Gerardi (Author)

Dr Guadalupe Gerardi is a Lecturer in Hispanic American Literature at the University of Oxford.

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