- Esas niñas cuando crecen, ¿dónde van a parar?
Zulema Moret's monograph provides a study of the Bildungsroman or novela de formación as written by Latin American women in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on works of the 1970s and 1980s. Moret includes as her objects of study novels by a wide range of writers, including Argentinians Griselda Gambaro, Beatriz Guido, Marta Traba, and Susana Silvestre; Puerto Ricans Rosario Ferré and Iris Zavala; the Chilean author Ana María del Río; Colombian author Albalucía Ángel; Venezuelan author Laura Antillano; Ecuadorian author Luz Argentina Chiriboga; and Mexican author Elena Poniatowska.
The first chapter is the most accomplished of the book and it provides a good range of reading on existing scholarship on the Bildungsroman as genre. The reader is given guidance through the main issues, with the origins of the Bildungsroman being carefully set out, Moret highlighting in particular the construction of identity of the young male hero-protagonist, and the tensions between the self and the environment. Moret then proceeds to examine what happens to the Bildungsroman when this hero-protagonist is not a man but a woman.
Chapter two examines the relationship between autobiography and the Bildungsroman, paying particular attention to Laura Antillano's La muerte del monstruo come-piedra. Here, Moret comments on features such as the construction of the female self and the dramatization of reading in the novel. Chapter two moves on to the analysis of Antillano's second novel, Perfume de Gardenia, in which the stories of three generations of women are intertwined. Moret argues that, rather than this being purely a family saga, in Perfume de Gardenia the life stories of these three women are 'íntimamente ligadas a la historia (o metarrelato histórico) del desarrollo de la modernidad venezolana' (53).
Chapter four looks at the work of Albalucía Ángel, in particular her Estaba la pájara pinta sentada en el verde limón (and not 'un verde limón', as Moret incorrectly transcribes the title of the novel on p. 73), and Las andariegas. While Moret has, in essence, made a good selection, since Estaba la pájara has frequently been analysed by critics in the light of theories of the Bildungsroman, she adds little that is new here, given that her overview of the novel repeats existing scholarship on Ángel. What is perhaps even more problematic is the inclusion of Las andariegas, begging the question whether this highly experimental, metadiscursive text, which dialogues in complex and ironic ways with queer theory and French feminism, is actually a Bildungsroman at all. There is very little close textual analysis provided of Las andariegas, and the dedication of just under five pages to this highly complex work does not do justice to Ángel's endeavour.
Chapter five discusses the motif of the journey as an apprenticeship or learning experience, giving brief accounts of several novels which fit this model, including Ángel's Los girasoles en invierno, Traba's Las ceremonias del verano, Poniatowska's La 'Flor de Lis', Silvestre's Si yo muero primero, and Zavala's Nocturna mas no funesta. Chapter six looks at the novels Ganarse la muerte by Griselda Gambaro, Óxido de Carmen by Ana María del Río, and the short story 'La bella durmiente' by Rosario Ferré, examining these works as examples of the failed Bildungsroman. The final chapter, 'De las variaciones en torno a una forma' again covers several works, each of them briefly: Lucía Guerra's Las noches de Carmen Miranda, Beatriz Guido's La casa del ángel, La caída and La mano en la trampa, Chiriboga's Bajo la piel de los tambores, and Gambaro's Nada que ver con otra historia. After this last chapter there [End Page 1033] is, unfortunately, no conclusion, meaning that it is hard for the reader to get a sense of how the various chapters of the study hang together, or of the 'red thread' which has structured the work as a whole...