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Catastrophe And Community: Mistral, Dittborn, Zurita, And The Fragile Demand
de la Torre, Osvaldo
This project considers twentieth century and contemporary poetic encounters with community, catastrophe, and fragility within the Chilean context. The project scrutinizes and seeks to go beyond the totalizing and forceful articulation of community found in Neruda's influential poetics, in relation to which the figures that compose the body of my dissertation (Gabriela Mistral, Eugenio Dittborn, and Raúl Zurita) imagine communities that are eminently more aware of their collective sociopolitical, religious, and ethical "inoperativity." The first chapter of my dissertation undertakes a critical rereading of Neruda's Canto general. My reading highlights the figure of a negative catastrophe (the Spanish conquest), and a positive catastrophe (the subaltern revolution). Within this catastrophic conception of historical oppression and emancipation, I analyze how the poet-prophet makes of death an operative condition by transfiguring it into the ground for a future resurrection of the subaltern community. My second chapter foregrounds Gabriela Mistral's imagining of community as an infinite confrontation with its own fragility via a confrontation with Christ's divine weakness. I contrast the formal and thematic "poverty" of Mistral's poetry with the elaborateness of her modernista precursors and contemporaries, linking her interest in poetic "desolation" with her lifelong engagement and identification with marginalized social groups. Unlike Neruda-who speaks on behalf of the same disenfranchised groups-Mistral, I argue, makes of fragility a constitutive trait of her ideal, Christian community. Chapter three contrasts the "unpolluted" models of community which both the dictatorial and democratic imaginaries propose with the dissenting and "sullied" representation found in the artistic works of Eugenio Dittborn. I contrast both the dictatorial and democratic gestures of national "cleansing" with Dittborn's constant reminder-through innovative uses of material waste in his visual production-that the national community is always-already "stained." Chapter four analyzes Raúl Zurita's "inoperative" vision of community as it must live with and suffer from the knowledge of poetry's resurrectional incapacity. Contrary to the critical view that categorizes Zurita's work as "redemptive," I argue that his poetry negates salvation and therefore cannot be easily recuperated by the socio-political discourses of reconciliation and national "healing."
Poetry; Latin America; Chile
Rodriguez-Garcia, Jose M.
Castillo, Debra Ann; Howie, Cary S
Ph.D. of Romance Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis