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Ambiguity and Gender in the New Novel of Brazil and Spanish America

A Comparative Assessment

Payne, Judith A.

Publication Year: 1993

In this first book-length study to compare the "new novels" of both Spanish America and Brazil, the authors deftly examine the differing perceptions of ambiguity as they apply to questions of gender and the participation of females and males in the establishment of Latin American narrative models. Their daring thesis: the Brazilian new novel developed a more radical form than its better-known Spanish-speaking cousin because it had a significantly different approach to the crucial issues of ambiguity and gender and because so many of its major practitioners were women.

As a wise strategy for assessing the canonical new novels from Latin America, the coupling of ambiguity and gender enables Payne and Fitz to discuss how borders--literary, generic, and cultural--are maintained, challenged, or crossed. Their conclusions illuminate the contributions of the new novel in terms of experimental structures and narrative techniques as well as the significant roles of voice, theme, and language. Using Jungian theory and a poststructural optic, the authors also demonstrate how the Latin American new novel faces such universal subjects as myth, time, truth, and reality. Perhaps the most original aspect of their study lies in its analysis of Brazil's strong female tradition. Here, issues such as alternative visions, contrasexuality, self-consciousness, and ontological speculation gain new meaning for the future of the novel in Latin America.

With its comparative approach and its many bilingual quotations, Ambiguity and Gender in the New Novel of Brazil and Spanish America offers an engaging picture of the marked differences between the literary traditions of Portuguese-speaking and Spanish-speaking America and, thus, new insights into the distinctive mindsets of these linguistic cultures.

Published by: University of Iowa Press


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-vix

In the historical development of the Brazilian and Spanish American new novel, the element of ambiguity provides a valuable clue to a much-discussed question, "Where are the women?" Before Borges and the emergence of the new narrative (for many an event marked by the appearance of his Ficciones in 1944), prose narrative throughout Spanish America had traditionally been linked with orthodox...

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Chapter One: Ambiguity, Gender Borders, and the Differing Literary Traditions of Brazil and Spanish America

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pp. 1-24

In both Spanish America and Brazil a "new novel" 1 appeared around the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century. This phenomenon, for both literatures, constituted a true aesthetic revolution in that orthodox modes of discourse were suddenly subsumed in wave after wave of innovative prose narrative. As Jos

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Chapter Two: Jungian Theory and the New Novel of Latin America

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pp. 25-32

What do we mean by the gender and the sex-related terms used so far: man, woman, male, female, masculine, and feminine? "Man" and "woman," like the term "sex," will, in this study, be limited to biology. "Male" and "female," as nouns, will also be biological designations, while the adjective forms will be social as well as biological. We make this distinction because certain functions (such as biological paternity...

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Chapter Three: The Border Maintained

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pp. 33-63

When taken together, La ciudad y los perras, La muerte de Artemio Cruz, Cien a

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Chapter Four: The Border Challenged

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pp. 64-92

Though they go about it in very different ways, both Grande Sert

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Chapter Five: The Border Crossed

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pp. 93-117

Is it necessary to ask if the patriarchal perspectives described in the preceding two chapters can inspire a female writer to create from her own fundamental perceptions? How does a reading public that not only accepts but applauds such rigidly patriarchal visions react to the work of a woman who seeks to express a different reality, one taking form...

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Chapter Six: The Mythical Hero, Transgressor of Borders

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pp. 118-129

In this chapter, we will present the image of the heroic journey,with principal reference to Joseph Campbell's understanding of it, as a preface to a further contrast between the differing worldviews to be found in the novels under consideration. We are aware that there are many definitions of "hero" 1 and that the idea of the primitive hero who...

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Chapter Seven: Writers, Characters, and the Journey of the Mythical Hero

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pp. 130-163

As we have seen, the Spanish American and Brazilian new novels of the 1960s and early 1970S offer very different views of gender opposition, the cornerstone of patriarchy. In Spanish America this opposition remained firmly established among the major works, whereas the Brazilian new novelists of the same period, working out of a long-established tradition of language consciousness and semantic ambiguity, erased...

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Chapter Eight: Women and the Word

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pp. 164-182

Traditionally, Logos (word, power, meaning, and deed) has been associated with the masculine principle. In a Weltanschauung that clearly understands the difference between the masculine as a metaphor and the male as a concrete human being, and that understands that each human being-male or female-is composed of both the masculine and feminine principles, Logos is certainly attributable to both genders. However...

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pp. 183-188

In this book we have argued that within the era of the early new novel in Latin America (roughly the decade of the sixties), the position of women-as characters and as writers-in the most representative Brazilian texts differed dramatically from the way women were presented in the most representative Spanish American works. Further, we have at ...


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pp. 189-208

Works Consulted

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pp. 208-218


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pp. 219-225

E-ISBN-13: 9781587291821

Publication Year: 1993