In the context of rising tensions around immigration and acculturation in Argentina at the turn of the century (1890–1910), upper-class writers expected naturalist fiction to promote appropriate forms of sexuality that would lead to a prosperous a national future. This article analyzes Carlos Octavio Bunge’s La novela de la sangre (1903) as a text that fails to live up to this mandate. Instead, Bunge proposes a model of queer desire that refuses to idealize procreative kinship for the national cause. I detail the reception of this work at the turn of the century, and argue that criticism by his contemporaries compelled the author to drastically change the novel by adding a new final chapter before its second edition (1904). This article traces the differences between the two editions of Bunge’s work and situates their reception within the larger context of the development of a middle class reading public, growing ethnocentrism, and cultural nationalism in turn-of-the-century Argentina. La novela de la sangre exposes anxieties around sexual degeneracy, class inversion, and racial mixing. The ambivalent attitude Bunge takes toward this nationalist project underscores the precariousness of normative gender and sexuality as well as class hierarchies in this period of rapid cultural change.


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pp. 55-71
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