Stages of Disquiet: Evocations of Space in Latin America Short Fiction and its Cinematographic Transformation

Kressner, Ilka, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Pellón, Gustavo, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Pope, Randolph, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Lagos, María Inés, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Drame, Kandioura, Department of French Language and Literatures, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines literary and cinematographic representations of space. It focuses on the sites in six literary texts and eight cinematic adaptations: Jorge Luis Borges' "Hombre de la esquina rosada" and Miguel Picazo's film El hombre de la esquina rosada, Borges' "Tema del traidor y del héroe" and Bernardo Bertolucci's Strategia del ragno, Ernesto Sábato's El túnel and José Luis Cuerda's film of the same name, Julio Cortázar's "Cartas de mamá" and two film adaptations of that short story, Manuel Antin's La cifra impar and Miguel Picazo's Cartas de mamá, Juan Rulfo's literary and Carlos Velo's and Roberto Bolaños' cinematographic versions of Pedro Páramo, and finally Gabriel García Márquez's "La increíble y triste historia de la cándida Eréndira y de su abuela desalmada" and Ruy Guerra's film Eréndira. I read these works "spatially" and study the descriptions and presentations of space, as well as the characters' reactions to their surroundings. I argue that the short stories, novellas and films, each in their way, present highly unusual and disquieting spaces. The characters are confronted with merging perspectives, deferral, darkness or emptiness. To understand these radical sites, I use the concept of atopos, developed by Roland Barthes, Michel de Certeau and Marc Augé. The non-space, according to the critics, is a spatial unit that resists any attempt at being defined ("definition" in the triple etymological sense of first, an explanation of a term, second a spatial demarcation, and third a finalizing closure). I see this ambiguity as a common trait both of the theoretical studies and the artistic spaces portrayed in both media. The disconcerting accounts of time in the texts have been interpreted as iii radical questionings of our conventional assumptions of chronology. But are we able, almost a century after Albert Einstein's spatio-temporal challenges, to "think" time without relating it to any spatial dimension? The first motivation for this analysis is to focus on time's understudied "other" and argue that the strange sites and stages in the famous texts rigorously question our understanding of space. The second purpose of analyzing spaces in the literary works is related to the interdisciplinary orientation of my analysis. The description of space in a text becomes of major interest as soon as it is translated from a text medium to a visual medium. I selected these spatially challenging texts in order to analyze the limits and potentials of intermedial variations. The concept of adaptation that I use is not based upon the criteria of a faithful illustration of an authoritarian master-narrative. Rather than taking an evaluative approach, I focus on the transformations, twists and turns from one art form to the other. Instead of a literal fidelity, the films display a much more intriguing intermedial creativity. Through a close reading and viewing of the "space fictions," I provide examples of the artistic dialogue between the texts and the films. By doing this, I also place under scrutiny some of our common assumptions about space.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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