Body of Writing

Figuring Desire in Spanish American Literature

Body of Writing

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: Published: April 2000

Author: René Prieto

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Body of Writing focuses on the traces that an author’s “body” leaves on a work of fiction. Drawing on the work of six important Spanish American writers of the twentieth century, René Prieto examines narratives that reflect—in differing yet ultimately complementary ways—the imprint of the author’s body, thereby disclosing insights about power, aggression, transgression, and eroticism.

Healthy, invalid, lustful, and confined bodies—as portrayed by Julio Cortázar, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Gabriel García Márquez, Severo Sarduy, Rosario Castellanos, and Tununa Mercado—become evidence for Roland Barthes’s contention that works of fiction are “anagrams of the body.” Claiming that an author’s intentions can be uncovered by analyzing “the topography of a text,” Prieto pays particular attention not to the actions or plots of these writers’ fiction but rather to their settings and characterizations. In the belief that bodily traces left on the page reveal the motivating force behind a writer’s creative act, he explores such fictional themes as camouflage, deterioration, defilement, entrapment, and subordination. Along the way, Prieto reaches unexpected conclusions regarding topics that include the relationship of the female body to power, male and female transgressive impulses, and the connection between aggression, the idealization of women, and anal eroticism in men.

This study of how authors’ longings and fears become embodied in literature will interest students and scholars of literary and psychoanalytic criticism, gender studies, and twentieth-century and Latin American literature.


Body of Writing is the most advanced piece of criticism on Latin American literature available. Prieto’s unique mixture of theoretical sophistication with elegance of mind and style makes him soar above today’s cacophonous cackle. I know of no better critic of Latin American literature than him.” — Roberto González-Echevarría, author of Myth and Archive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative

“A most significant contribution to Spanish American literary criticism. Prieto is a gifted scholar with an unusual talent for reading texts." — William Luis, author of Dance Between Two Cultures: Latino Caribbean Literature Written in the United States

“Original, witty and passionate, Body of Writing is sure to interest Hispanists and non-Hispanists alike. I can think of few Latin Americanists capable of producing readings as energetic and elegant as Prieto's.” — Gustavo Pérez Firmat, author of Life on the Hyphen


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

René Prieto is Professor of Foreign Languages and Literature at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of Miguel Angel Asturias’s Archaeology of Return.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 Julio Cortazar's perpetual exile 17

2 More than meets the I: Guillermo Cabrera Infante's La Habana para un Infante difunto 75

3 The excremental vision of GGabriel Garcia Marquez 101

4 The Degraded body in the work of Severo Sarduy 135

5 Rewriting the body: renewal through language in the work of Rosario Castellanos 173

6 The body of pleasure in Tununa Mercado's Canon de alcoba 2123

Conclusion 240

Notes 255

Bibliography 275

Index 285
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2488-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2451-5
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