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Cooptation, Complicity, and Representation

Desire and Limits for Intellectuals in Twentieth-Century Mexican Fiction

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Shigeko Mato

Is the affiliation between intellectuals and hegemony unbreakable? When intellectuals attempt to retell history from its bottom side, or when writers try to represent the so-called marginalized subject, are they not simply reinforcing the perspective and agenda of society’s hegemonic currents? Cooptation, Complicity, and Representation engages in a discussion of the problem of this potentially unbreakable affiliation between intellectuals and hegemony. Through five twentieth-century Mexican literary works: Pedro Páramo (1955, Juan Rulfo); Hasta no verte Jesús mío (1969, Elena Poniatowska); three short stories from Ciudad Real (1960, Rosario Castellanos); Llanto: Novelas imposibles (1992, Carmen Boullosa); and Muertos incómodos (falta lo que falta) (2005, Subcomandate Marcos and Paco Ignacio Taibo II), this book attempts to examine the contradictory phenomenon that emerges when intellectuals’ desire to represent a marginalized subject or history clashes with their own limited ability to fully know the marginalized. No critics have compiled these five seemingly unrelated Mexican texts in order to scrutinize such a contradictory tendency. Cooptation, Complicity, and Representation provides an innovative way to connect the five texts by delineating, within specific Mexican historical and geopolitical contexts, how and why intellectuals have difficulty moving away from the reproduction of «otherness», when they attempt to represent a marginalized subject or history. This book can be useful for those who are interested in the Spanish American boom literature, twentieth-century Mexican literature, women writing, testimonial writing, subaltern studies, postcolonial studies, historical novels, and cultural studies.

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Chapter 1. Juan Ruflo as the “Author Function:”

Extract

Chapter 1 Juan Rulfo as the “Author Function:” Coopted Imagination of Mexicanness in Pedro Páramo Pedro Páramo (1955), the Mexican writer Juan Rulfo’s only published novel, has been perceived as one of the most influential works of Spanish American literature of the 1960s and the early 1970s, known as the Boom literature. i Both the eminent success of the novel at a domestic and international level and Rulfo’s status as a Boom writer have impelled scholars to scrutinize Rulfo’s single novel from multiple angles. Among numerous, exhaustive discussions on the novel, some critics have pointed out the resemblance between the Mexican novel and James Joyce’s and William Faulkner’s works, focusing on their modernist aesthetic narrative techniques as well as on the themes of human existence, condition, and psychology.ii Others have drawn attention to the blending of elements of Greek tragedy with the regional and rustic ambience.iii The studies which operate on a comparison of the Mexican novel to Western literature, usually, underscore a link between the novel and Western literature, positioning Pedro Páramo on the threshold of Western literature. iv For instance, Carlos Fuentes, in his study on major Boom writers, La nueva novela hispanoamericana, considers Pedro Páramo as a transitional novel from the Spanish American literary tradition of realist-naturalist, Juan Rulfo as the “Author Function” 18 documentary productions to a new beginning, underscoring the juxtaposition of the traditional and new aesthetic tendencies (14–16). Fuentes seems to claim this transformational moment from the old to...

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