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Hindsight and the Real

Subjectivity in Gay Hispanic Autobiography

David Vilaseca

Hindsight and the Real: Subjectivity in Gay Hispanic Autobiography studies the representations of self and the discursive constitution of identity in the autobiographical works by several (mostly) gay-identified authors in modern Spanish, Catalan and Latin American literature. These include, among others, Reinaldo Arenas’s Antes que anochezca (1992), Juan Goytisolo’s Coto vedado (1985) and En los reinos de taifa (1986), Jaime Gil de Biedma’s Retrato del artista en 1956 (1994) and Salvador Dalí’s Un diari: 1919–1920 (1994). The book contains a series of case studies linked to a recurring central argument. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary critics and philosophers (including, among others, Slavoj Žižek, Ernesto Laclau, Homi Bhabha and Emmanuel Lévinas), it proposes a notion of identity and (homo)sexuality which is neither essentialist nor merely ‘positional’ (discursive). Thus, while attempting to show (in post-structuralist fashion) that gay Spanish and Latin American self-representations are retroactive constructs invariably inflected by political and discursive factors such as nationality, ‘race’ and class, the book also stresses the role of the ‘Real’ – the kernel of pre-discursive substance which, according to Lacan and his followers, both precedes and exceeds the symbolic order.