On Transculturated Narrators

29 Mar

In Spanish, for those who read Spanish, this is a blog post on The Storyteller by a PhD student at Colorado-Boulder and it is worth considering. I am not going to do it justice here, so read for yourself, but he is talking about the novel as a critique not just of Arguedas and indigenismo but of the idea of the “transculturated narrator” itself. Arguedas and other 20th century Latin American writers (Asturias, Castellanos) created bicultural narrators and the great critic Angel Rama wrote a famous 1982 study about this. I will say a little more about that below.

But this writer says The Storyteller alleges that the Latin American literary projects associated with indigenismo and the Boom, in which (in different ways) the writer is saying something of value — representing, signifying — are now irrelevant. Mascarita’s project (storytelling for the community) is shown to be solipsistic and futile. By extension, Western writing may be futile as well.

La radicalidad del proyecto novelístico de Vargas Llosa es extrema: sólo las formas narrativas fuertemente autocríticas, autorreflexivas, casi auto-deconstructivas, como esta misma novela, tendrán lugar en el futuro; aunque la suya sea, quizá, una supervivencia anémica y degradada.

The thing is this: writers like Arguedas posited bicultural identities in which the indigenous part could be the primary one, or if not primary, still a part which was not in the process of dying but was active, regenerative … and (I would say) was not necessarily nostalgic. Vargas Llosa sees that as outmoded. If it was ever nostalgic, is it still … given developments since this novel was written?

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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Bibliography, Vargas Llosa


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