Allegories of Transgression and Transformation

Experimental Fiction by Women Writing Under Dictatorship

By Mary Beth Tierney-Tello

Subjects: Feminist
Paperback : 9780791430361, 286 pages, July 1996
Hardcover : 9780791430354, 286 pages, July 1996

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Table of contents


Introduction. Women Writing Through and Against Dictatorship:Authority, Authorship, and the Authoritarian State


Resistance to Authorities: Politics, Gender, and Women's Writing
The Crisis of Representation: Allegorical Possibilities and the Will to Meaning


1. Defiance and Its Discontents: Nélida Piñon's A Casa da Paixâo


Defying the Patriarch's Plots: Transgression as Narrative Strategy
The Patriarch's Puppet: Jerônimo and Marta's Critique of Masculinity
Marta's Script: Re-Plotting Gender and the Struggle for Authorship
"She saw her misfortune": An Allegory of Women's Writing


2. Treason and Transformation: Re-Writing the Margins in Diamela Eltit's Por la patria


Por la patria: Writing on the Dark Side
Literary Experimentalism: Por la patria's Political Erotics of Language
Textual/Sexual Transgression: Writing the Other Side of the Oedipal Drama
Re-Writing the Margins: Transgression and the Maternal Body


3. From Silence to Subjectivity: Reading and Writing in Reina Roffè's La rompiente


Subject to Censorship: Reading and Writing (in) Silence
In the Margins of Authorship: Subjectivity in Production
The Personal and the Political: Re-Emodying the Social Subject


4. Exile and a New Dream of Symmetry: Cristina Peri Rossi's La nave de los locos


The Possibilities of Exile: Loss, Otherness, and the Opportunity for Difference
From National Identity to World Citizen: Exile and the Socio-Political Context
A Dreadful Dissymmetry: Exile and the Gen(d)eric Condition
Masculine Impotence and a New Dream of Symmetry


Conclusion. Transgression and Transformation: Aesthetics, Politics and (Post-) Authoritarian Contexts




Examines the dynamic relationship between authority and gender in contemporary, experimental narrative works by four Latin American women writers: Diamela Eltit of Chile, Nelida Pinon of Brazil, Reina Roffe of Argentina, and Cristina Peri Rossi of Uruguay.


At the nexus of politics and sexuality, Allegories of Transgression and Transformation examines how women's writing produced in the wake of authoritarian regimes in several South American countries simultaneously challenges both the effects of dictatorship and restrictive gender codes. The author examines the experimental fictions of four contemporary Latin American writers: Diamela Eltit of Chile, Nelida Pinon of Brazil, Reina Roffe of Argentina, and Cristina Peri Rossi of Uruguay. Tierney-Tello begins her study by exploring the particular relationships among authoritarian political oppression, restrictive gender codes, and the practice of writing. Then, through close readings that draw on feminist, psychoanalytic, and socio-political literary theories, she shows how each of the selected narratives illustrates different aspects of the effects of dictatorship, while also striving to develop new means of articulating gender and feminine sexuality. Throughout, Allegories of Transgression and Transformation suggests how the use of allegory allows these texts to question socio-political, genderic, and textual forms of authority and to trace an/other story.

Mary Beth Tierney-Tello is Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies at Wheaton College.


"I believe this is an important contribution to the field of Latin American literature especially in the way in which political thinking and ideology are a part of the Latin American women's literary imagination. I strongly believe that the dissemination of this work is of great significance to the academic communities. " — Marjorie Agosin, Wellesley College

"This book contains brilliant analyses of extremely complex texts in the context of political and social exigencies in Latin America and in relation to issues of gender difference and sexuality. It is astute about gender, and about literary theory (particularly theory of allegory). It is both sophisticated in its analysis and written in an accessible manner. Outstanding. " — Amy Kaminsky, University of Minnesota