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CHAPTER2 FICTIONS OF TESTIMONY: ESSENTIALIZED IDENTITIES AND THE OTHER IN ONESELF IN TWO WORKS BY CLARICE LISPECTOR Hasta aquf hemos analizado el contenido de este producto que llamamos novela-testimonio. Ahora veamos cuales son los pasos que deben seguirse para su elaboraci6n . Ojala no tenga esto nada que ver con una receta culinaria. Until now we have analyzed the content of this product we call novel-testimony. Now let us see what steps one should take for its creation. I hope this has nothing to do with a cooking recipe. 1 Miguel Barnet, "La novela-testimonio: socioliteratura " Bien dijo Lupercio Leonardo, que-bien se puede filosofar y aderezar la cena. Y yo suelo decir viendo estas cosillas: Si Arist6teles hubiera guisado, mucho mas hubiera escrito. Lupercio Leonardo spoke well when he said that one can philosophize and season a dinner. And I tend to say, seeing these little details: If Aristotle had cooked, he would have written much more. Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Respuesta aSor Filotea THIS chapter's intentionally ambiguous title reflects the complex and often contradictory rhetorical manifestations of subjectivity , representation, and legitimation in the testimonial texts of the last chapter and the works of fiction in this chapter. "Fictions of Testimony" alludes to both the problematic nature of truth in the 1 All translations in this chapter are mine, unless otherwise noted. 100 FICTIONS OF TESTIMONY 101 testimonio and novela testimonial, and also the testimonial elements of two novels by the Brazilian author Clarice Lispector, analyzed in this section. By "testimonial elements" I mean a range of textual characteristics and outcomes of the testimonio and novela testimonial as I have presented them, such as the problem of representativity , testimonial discourse's reliance on stable truths it also wishes to undermine, and reliance on the testimonial informant as "vicarious identity" to compensate a lack perceived by the privileged transcriber . Testimonial elements in some fiction can closely simulate and even parody the transcriber-informant relationship or raise related issues through relationships of authority and legitimation even when the narrated situation does not reproduce an oral interview format like that of testimonial texts. With my title I attempt to indicate the two directions in which one can read testimonios with fiction: works of fiction serve to highlight, comment and play ironically upon the testimonial project while the testimonio and novela testimonial provide a provocative framework that highlights the politics of writing another life in those works of fiction. The significance of testimonio is its paradoxical process in the service of solidarity , stimulating examination of critical strategies and the very act of authorship that writes and absorbs or appropriates an other. As Alberto Moreiras notes, "[Testimonio's] tenuous abandonment of the literary ... has paradoxically enabled us to see, under a better light, the deep implications of literary discourse with power-knowledge effects" (216). Thus testimonial discourse should be read with literary discourse while keeping in mind their distinctions in process, in readership, and in what they ask of the reader. The irony described by Moreiras surfaces particularly in literary texts when a privileged character gradually comes to usurp the role of the subaltern character who constitutes the text's rationale or inspiration, or literally pre-text, as is the case in testimonial discourse. By examining elements comparable to testimonial texts I do not assume that either of the works of fiction studied here consciously responds to testimonial writing or originates in actual conversations . 2 By also asserting that the works of fiction I have chosen indirectly question the testimonio's pretense of ceding space to the subaltern , I do not discard the imperatives that produce testimonial 2 Clarice Lispector was, however, conscious of the Western ethnographic perspective , most evident in her story "A Mulher Mais Pequena do Mundo." 102 SUBJECT TO CHANGE works but also have in mind Latin American literature's frequent engagement with social and political issues. 3 One example of this appears in a novel by Clarice Lispector discussed in this chapter, A Hora da Estrela 'The Hour of the Star,': "Esta hist6ria acontece em estado de emergencia e de calamidade publica" ("This story takes place in a state of emergency and of public calamity"; 8). Lispector then indicates her story leaves an open question; who will answer the question: you? On the one hand, the testimonio as the eyewitness account of oppression wields a potential political tool for change, as Rigoberta Menchu's testimony shows. On the other hand, I agree with Gayatri Spivak when...


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