The four books reviewed here illustrate in varying degrees the importance of the critic's defining his or her use of methodological vocabulary and procedure. During the three-fold critical process of construction, interpretation, and evaluation, the author has the duty to define and to be consistent in the use of terms and methods. The by-product will then be a procedure available to the reader.
Lida Aronne-Amestoy writes that Utopía, paraíso e historia: Inscripciones del mito en García Márquez, Rulfo y Cortázar represents an attempt to describe that textual area where structure and symbol coincide. She presents her methodology as a novel approach that incorporates "analysis" and "hermeneutics," "system" and "history," where structuralism defines the method implied by the first word in [End Page 326] each pair and the remaining two terms remit to Paul Ricoeur's research. Aronne-Amestoy reaches fascinating and often noteworthy conclusions about "El ahogado mas hermoso del mundo" by Gabriel García Márquez, Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo, and Julio Cortázar's Bestiario. Unhappily, her interpretive method is often obscure and at times more impressionistic than methodical.
In her preface Aronne-Amestoy proposes to "dinamizar [el] proceso dialógico" that includes all discussions about a text. Her critical focus is to identify "un único modelo mitico" and an "estructura arquetipica" so as to illuminate the juncture of text and reality. After studying the three texts, she concludes that "funciones significantes" in any text's "modelo mitico" are a more objective means of identifying an author's axiology than are conceptual discussions.
As sound as her hypothesis and conclusions may be from her structuralist point of view, Aronne-Amestoy gives her reader little help in following the logic of her method, the latter even varying from study to study with no rationale given. For instance, arquetipico, mitico, and tradicional often are used interchangeably even though they obviously are not meant to be synonymous. The author also ignores any generic considerations in her studies, as in the last section concerning Cortázar's collection of writings entitled Bestiario. In fulfilling her purpose of identifying for each major work studied an underlying and unifying myth, Aronne-Amestoy studies the myth of the Minotaur and the various textual incarnations of that myth in Cortázar's book. The conclusions are illuminating, but one cannot help pondering how much more, or even differently, revealing her conclusions might be if she were to consider the various generic varieties represented in this compendium of writings.
Aronne-Amestoy at times is even self-contradictory in her use of critical terminology. In one case regarding García Márquez's "El ahogado más hermoso del mundo" she states that the "especificación documental" (the identification of an historical individual with an archetypal structure) does not add to the "fecundidad semántica del texto." That is, comparing the drowned Esteban with Lautaro, Che Guevara, the protomartyr Stephen, or even Christ amounts to interesting speculations that can only be "subsidiarios del mensaje universal." However, and in contradictory fashion, we read that " 'El ahogado más hermoso del mundo' es más una imagen de plenitud antropológica que un mensaje sobre la lucha anticolonialista. . . ." Furthermore, the author has previously claimed in the introduction that archetypes are never static but always "capa[ces] de articular en variantes contextuales dispares y de producir nuevos contenidos." Aronne-Amestoy rejects the archetypal structure of martyrdom for that of initiation. Yet, while...