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El diario de escritor en la literatura latinoamericana del siglo XX

  • Author(s): Contreras Ríos, Isaura
  • Advisor(s): van Delden, Maarten H.
  • et al.
Abstract

My dissertation studies a broad corpus of writers’ diaries in twentieth-century Latin American literature, and examines how the diary genre has developed in the region. I show that the diary has enjoyed historical continuity and has matured in contact with Latin American and foreign literary traditions.

I propose the concept of the ‘diario de escritor’ (writer’s diary) in order to systematize the presence and function of the diary in Latin America through the articulation of a critical framework that encompasses diaries published by their authors in the 20th and 21st centuries. By drawing on a wide variety of theoretical approaches to the diary as an essentially complex and hybrid genre, including reception theory and hermeneutics, I discuss the diary’s structural and literary implications in Latin America.

In my first chapter, I focus on the works of Rufino Blanco Fombona (Venezuela), Federico Gamboa (Mexico), Mario Levrero (Uruguay), Julio Ramón Ribeyro (Peru), and Ricardo Piglia (Argentina). This chapter analyses scenes of reading presented in Latin American diaries and focuses on the inter-textual mechanisms used by the writers to link their diaries to Europe’s diary-writing tradition. I show that Latin American diarists’ engagement with European diary forms allowed them to enhance the rhetorical possibilities of their writing.

The second chapter is a product of my research at Princeton University’s Firestone Library, where I consulted the manuscripts of the diaries, notebooks, and personal papers of José Donoso (Chile), Alberto Girri (Argentina), Augusto Monterroso (Guatemala) and Alejandra Pizarnik (Argentina). This archival research helps me to analyze the diaries’ transitions from manuscripts to published works. By analyzing the process of rewriting, I discuss the restitution of diaries as literary works capable of transforming the idea of genre in literature. I also argue for a proper place for so-called “fragmentary writing” in contemporary diaries.

My third chapter examines representations of travel in the diaries of Mario Levrero (Uruguay), César Aira (Argentina), Andres Neuman (Argentina), and Eduardo Lalo (Puerto Rico). This chapter focuses on the diarists’ practice of rethinking writing through travel. I propose that contemporary writers’ diaries, in the context of travel, transform the genre into a hybrid form close to the short novel, the fragment, and the essay. These diaries convert the traditional idea of travel into an interior experience in which the exploration takes place in the writing.

My final chapter analyzes the metaphors of illness (cancer, AIDS, and arthritis) and the representation of corporeal fragility in the diaries of Gonzalo Millán (Chile), Pablo Pérez (Argentina), and María Luisa Puga (México). Through the analysis of metaphoric and obscene language, I discuss the representation of corporality as a material sign of the disease and as a space of transformation of identity.

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