"Higiene en la casa del habla": Eugenio Montejo's El cuaderno de Blas Coll

El cuaderno de Blas Coll (1981) by Venezuelan poet Eugenio Montejo consists of a collection of notes written by Blas Coll, an apocryphal linguist who devises a project of transforming the Spanish language by reducing all words to bisyllabic and monosyllabic expressions. The character of Blas Coll is composed of allusions to certain philosophers, writers, and doctrines. This paper identifies and analyzes some of the main cultural and theoretical components of this character's ideas: Plato's Cratylus, the figure of the nineteenth century Spanish American letrado, the linguistic doctrines of Wilhelm von Humboldt, and Stéphane Mallarmé's theories about linguistics and poetry. This analysis demonstrates how Coll's project is a device by which Eugenio Montejo elaborates a meditation on the origin and limits of language, and on how this reflection can be materialized in the poetic craft.