Allegories of Globalization: The United States in Recent Latin American Narrative

Holland, Alex Conrad, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Shaw, Donald, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

This study examines the interplay of Latin American and North American culture in four novels by established Spanish American authors. Luisa Valenzuela's Novela negra con argentinos (1990), El plan infinito by Isabel Allende (1991), Linda 67: Historia de un crimen (1995) by Fernando del Paso and Jose Donoso's Donde van a morir los elefantes (1995) are each set in the United States of the late 1980s and 1990s. Though all of these novels are purportedly focused on individual relationships, pedaling around the theories of Fredric Jameson and Dorris Sommer I argue that these private romances are also figures for public, trans - national allegories. The love triangles always involve the choice, on the part of the Latin American protagonist, between a fellow Latin American and a North American partner who embodies the highlighted aspects of the surrounding culture. Given the timing of the production of these novels, with the centered promoters of globalization pushing the formation of a new world order in which the nation - state would play a significantly reduced role, these novels provide a counterpoint from the peripheral perspective and reveal the tensions and anxieties involved in integrating the global and the local without the mediation of the national level. Thus, these novels can be seen as literary contributions to the so - called postmodernism debate that heated up in Latin American scholarship in the 1990s. In their sub - texts they deny the desirability of (post)modern North American material culture as worthy of importation to their southern climes and at the same time question the validity of postmodernism as a regionally appropriate theoretical paradigm. The writing back to the center from the periphery, the concern for national and regional identity, and the rejection of absolute relativism all position these works as Latin American postcolonial novels.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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