Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Spanish

Advisor's Name

Santiago Juan-Navarro

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Florence Yudin

Advisor's Title

Committee Member

Advisor's Name

María G. Marín

Advisor's Title

Committee Member

Advisor's Name

Reinaldo Sánchez

Advisor's Title

Committee Member

Keywords

Criticism, Latin American Literature, José Lezama Lima, Jorge Luis Borges

Date of Defense

3-24-2003

Abstract

The aesthetic placement and period designation of Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) and José Lezama Lima (1910-1976) are complicated issues among critics. Borges is obviously considered a predecessor of the Latin American literary “boom,” but despite that taxonomy his work transcends that definition and provides a foundation for new trends and styles, such as the “neobarroco” cultivated by Severo Sarduy. Lezama is considered part of the second wave of the “boom,” but his work feeds, stylistically, from the Spanish baroque. At the same time, Lezama’s daring treatment of homoeroticism and his revolutionary system of images place him after the “boom” in a narrative style that is postmodern. This study undertakes a thorough revision of external and internal issues, revealing the key linguistic and fictive elements that characterize both writers. Through discourse analysis and close reading, a poetic system is formulated, which incorporate features of the “neobarroco,” “boom” and postmodern narrative styles.

This dissertation uses a polar structure to analyze both poetic visions and concludes that they are compatible and symmetrical. From this perspective, Borges and Lezama belong to the “core” of literature that centers its emphasis in the creation of a system versus other modes of writing in which mimetic function prevails. By doing this and by recycling world culture, they create postmodern myth: the new building material for Hispanic American literature.

There are only a few studies that explore the works of Borges and Lezama within the context of Baroque aesthetics. For the first time, this dissertation offers a comprehensive analysis that considers their poetic visions at large. Besides the difference in perspective, defined as macro-spatial in Borges and micro-spatial in Lezama, there are many similarities in content and form. Both writers question the cause and effect relationship and the modern use of metaphor. They also share a redefinition of genre as well as a hedonistic approach to literature and culture. This kinship in poetic vision is revealed through the polar method used for this study, which proposes a new form of aesthetic placement and period designation.

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