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Displacement in Isabel Allende’s Fiction, 1982–2000

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Mel Boland

This book explores the concept of displacement in the fiction produced by the Chilean writer Isabel Allende between 1982 and 2000. Displacement, understood in the author’s analysis to encompass social, geographical, linguistic and cultural phenomena, is argued to play a consistently central role in Allende’s fictional output of this period. Close readings of Allende’s texts illustrate the abiding importance of displacement and reconcile two apparently contradictory trends in her writing: as the settings of her fiction have become more international, questions of individual identity have gained in importance. This discussion employs displacement as a means of engaging with critical debates both on Allende’s individual texts and on her status as an original writer. After examining in detail the seven works of fiction written by Allende during this period, the book concludes with reflections on the general trajectory of her work in this genre.

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Chapter 3 Appearance, Disappearance and Displacement: A Carnivalesque Reading of De amor y de sombr

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a All the images of carnival are dualistic; they unite within themselves both poles of change and crisis. — Mikhail Bakhtin1 Introduction This chapter moves away from the focus on local and rural events to an examination of the impact of national events on citizens with the arrival of a military dictatorship in Allende’s 1984 novel De amor y de sombra. Drawing on work by Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, the aim of this chapter is to view Allende’s second novel through a carnivalesque lens. Particular attention is paid to the tensions between authorities and citizens; these tensions are examined through the questions of appear- ance, disappearance and societal displacement. This chapter contends that Allende provides a nuanced reading of changes which af fect all citizens in a totalitarian regime, and that, by tracing carnivalesque features, the fundamental coherence which underpins the text can be clearly illustrated. As mentioned in Chapter 1, De amor y de sombra is often compared unfavourably with La casa de los espíritus, and studies which focus exclu- sively on the text are few and far between: critics who have broached the 1 Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), p. 126. 72 Chapter 3 text are divided on the question of coherence, which may be due in some part to the challenge of locating the novel within a particular genre. Linda Gould Levine, for example, believes that Allende ‘blends fiction with fact [in De amor y de sombra] to create...

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