Teoria y practica del neobarroco en Severo Sarduy

Maribel San Juan, Florida International University


This dissertation analyzes the theory and practice of the Cuban postmodern writer Severo Sarduy (1937–1993) from his early adult years in Cuba to his exile period in Paris, France, where he lived until his death. By studying his narrative through the light of his theoretical essays, this paper demonstrates that the author created his own type of reading model—from and for Sarduy. His literary work is influenced by three major elements: (post)structuralism, psychoanalysis, and Buddhism, which combined form what Sarduy himself called the Neobarroque style. The Sarduyan writing is a transgressive exercise expressed through his concept of simulación. This style breaks with the traditional art concept of mimesis (the representation of reality in the western world), and therefore with the correspondence between the signifier and the signified. Sarduy does not intend to represent reality but to go beyond it, achieving by his technique of signifying exhaustion to represent absence itself. The Neobarroque of Severo Sarduy is an aesthetic of the empty signifier based on the reckless expenditure, and ultimately exhaustion, of the artifices of language that precipitates in a signifier chain towards the infinite. His language does not transmit a message but it signifies itself, that is, a means without an end. Paradoxically, this signifier chain produces an excess of metaphors beyond the material limits of language and its support, the page. The space beyond language is the hipertelic technique inherited by Sarduy from his literary master, José Lezama Lima. This is also the empty space of no signification or nonsense in which occurs the depersonalization of the speaking subject; in Buddhist terminology this becomes the dissolution of the ego. The Sarduyan language is determined by a Lacanian psychoanalytic erotic drive (pulsion) known as the Barroquean desire, a death drive which directly relates to the exile condition of the author. But the genesis of this desire lies in a primordial desire of encounter with his origin: mother, maternal language, paradise, God. That is the reason why Sarduy not only poses an aesthetic question but also an ontological one. This other dimension of the Sarduyan writing is based on a liberating drive that permeates all his work—an ontological liberation expressed through language. The empty space created in the text provides the subject with the possibility of fusion with the all. Ultimately, Sarduy strives for a language that goes beyond the symbolic limits towards a place of constant dissolution, evanesce, and death-horror vacui. This corroborates the Sarduyan statement: “la simulación enuncia el vacío y la muerte.”^

Subject Area

Literature, Latin American|Literature, Caribbean|Latin American Studies

Recommended Citation

Maribel San Juan, "Teoria y practica del neobarroco en Severo Sarduy" (January 1, 2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. Paper AAI3502122.

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