During the so-called “transition to democracy” in Argentina, most narratives of the dictatorship ignored the deep politicization of society in the sixties and seventies, and the extent to which the transition entailed a continuation of changes installed during the Proceso. As a result, historical knowledge was characterized by fundamental gaps that deprived history of its dynamic character and blunted critical thought. This essay reads Juan José Saer’s Glosa as a realist novel that highlights, without artificially resolving or bypassing, the contradictions of the “transition.” In relating the casual stroll of Leto and the Mathematician in the early sixties and their fate during the dictatorship, Saer’s novel is structured around a temporal gap. In this configuration of time, a disjunctive relation of “fever and geometry,” history emerges prominently in the narrative future but appears absent in the novel’s present. Moreover, the narration underlines this distribution through its meticulous descriptions that do not paint a nuanced picture of historical movement but render everything the same. As a result, the future in Glosa appears inescapable, yet the route to it remains discontinuous and unintelligible. On the one hand, the novel’s comedic treatment of history as absurdity appears to take the “end of history” at face value. However, the novel lays bare the contradictions of historical knowledge during the “transition” and therefore constitutes a productive text for the continuing project of thinking through the “failed revolution,” the task of appropriating the past in order to make a qualitatively different future possible.


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pp. 183-203
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