Desire and Limits for Intellectuals in Twentieth-Century Mexican Fiction
Chapter 2. Wanting to Philosophize the Marginal:
Chapter 2 Wanting to Philosophize the Marginal: On Hasta no verte Jesús mío Elena Poniatowska’s Hasta no verte Jesús mío (1969), since its publication, has stimulated discussions and debates on the ethical issue with regard to the representation of the subaltern voice in a testimonial narrative space. This testimonial novel was published in 1969 as a result of a series of interviews that Poniatowska conducted with an underprivileged Mexican woman, Josefina Bórquez, who was to become the fictional first person narrator-protagonist Jesusa Palancares in the novel (Jörgensen 54–55; López 21; Steele 155). Many critics recently have questioned the representability of a subaltern individual in the mediated discourse of a testimonial novel, by drawing attention to the narrative tension between reality and fiction and the power relations between a privileged author who transcribes and publishes and a marginalized informant who tells her life story without obtaining authorship.1 The theme of representability of the underprivileged by the elite has been revisited in Doris Sommer’s article “Host Pursuit and Cold Rewards of Mexicanness.” As the title of her article suggests, Sommer asserts that it is the middle-class critics and readers who irresistibly pursue a way to understand Jesusa, either as a bearer of Octavio Paz’s “Mexican mask,”2 or the voice of a working woman who, sharing her life story of hardships, Wanting to Philosophize the Marginal 40 gives privileged intellectuals a sense of solidarity (140–43).3 However, according to Sommer, the “hot pursuit...
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