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Logos and the Word

The Novel of Language and Linguistic Motivation in Grande Sertao: Veredas and Tres tristes tigres


Stephanie Merrim

Readers and critics alike have found the dense - Joyce-like - verbal inventions of these two experimental Latin American novels gratuitous and incomprehensible. This study, however, by articulating the «grammar» of the neologisms, relating them to the thematic, stylistic, and semiotic elements of the text, and exposing their linguistically motivated nature, reveals the textual languages not as a descent into Babel but as attempts to storm a linguistic Eden. The study sets up a comparative framework for both works through a new, formal definition of the Latin American novel of language. The ensuing discussion establishes that whereas the Brazilian author shapes language into a more transparent and «natural» copy of (his vision of) the world, Cabrera Infante invents a pure, non-referential «anti-language» as secret as the Havana nightworld of Tres tristes tigres.
Contents: The Novel of Language - Linguistic Motivation in Grande Sertao: Veredas - The Anti-Language of Tres tristes tigres - Conclusion: Back from Babel.