In general, José Saramago's literary work subverts the aesthetic standards of patriarchal reception and production. Moreover, the female characters in his novels tend to be more mature and coherent and have more complex and stronger personalities than their masculine counterparts, whom the author characterizes as "minor people" (Saramago and Viegas). This study analyses some of the discourses that construct the character of Blimunda in Memorial do Convento (Baltasar and Blimunda, 1982), trying to provide a critical review of the representation of women in Saramago's novels. I attempt to asses extent the author might be reinventing a universal female myth, in which women symbolize the "essence of human being" (Saramago and Viegas), or determine the extent to which their representation in this novel might be still conditioned by androcentric aesthetics or discourses. My intention is not to raise a controversy, but as Saramago is the most referenced contemporary author in the Lusophone world (if we except Paulo Coelho), I find it necessary to reread one of his most important novels taking as a basis some of the classical perspectives of feminist literary criticism (Woolf, Irigaray), as well as some more recent critical attempts to establish a " feminine sublime" (Freeman). I conclude that the symbolic representation of Blimunda lies halfway between the traditional masculine desire to fix women in an essentialist identity, which is stable and stabilizing, and the more dynamic and innovative attempt to extinguish hierarchical gender difference in the systemic representation of the subject.


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pp. 207-231
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