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Cabrera Infante’s «Tres tristes tigres»

The Trapping Effect of the Signifier over Subject and Text

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Carmen Teresa Hartman

The opening statement of Cabrera Infante’s Tres tristes tigres is crucial to its reading. Pronounced by a feminine voice, it is the very embodiment of the negativity of language to tell, desire, as well as absence of being and of story. The first sentence of the text is the first detour the «show» announced in the prologue takes. As per the dictum, the adverb «nunca» of the first sentence becomes a spell that captures any attempt to tell, destabilizing the concept of the familiar and challenging notions of power, silence, loquaciousness, and the feminine as an excluded element. In this manner, the text offers us a vision of the speaking subject attempting to tell a story: a fragmented body before an elusive past, attempting to catch a fleeting signifier: «...la escritura no es más que un intento de atrapar la voz humana al vuelo.»