Monstruos, Maniobras y Mundos: Lo Fantástico En La Narrativa Cubana, 1910-2010
Alfonso Hernández Catá
English Language and Literature
Latin American Languages and Societies
Latin American Literature
Latin American Studies
This dissertation examines the Fantastic mode in Cuban narrative between 1910 and 2010. Each chapter explores the work of a different author to explore the ways in which the Fantastic manifests and evolves vis à vis other literary modes present in Cuban literature, such as Naturalism and the Marvellous Real. In chapter one, “‘El confesor de monstruos’: Alfonso Hernández Catá y el fantástico-gótico,” I suggest that in several of Hernández Catá’s short stories in Los frutos ácidos (1915), Piedras preciosas (1924), Manicomio (1931) and Cuatro libras de felicidad (1933), grotesque and monstrous bodies are the site of horror and terror. These deformed bodies act like an infectious disease that spreads and threatens the notions of control and hygiene put forth by the sciences starting at the end of the Nineteenth-century. In the second chapter, “Grandes maniobras: Virgilio Piñera y el fantástico-sintáctico,” I propose that the fantastic becomes a narrative strategy that erodes the narrative logic in a series of short stories written and published between 1942 and 1965 in Cuentos fríos (1956) and El que vino a salvarme (1970). This dissolution of logic is achieved by a displacement of the action and an emphasis on the description of bodies, objects and spaces so that the structure of the narrative text loses its coherence. In the third and last chapter, “Los mundos distantes: Abilio Estévez y el Künstlerroman,” I explore the fantastic within the genre known as “novel of the artist.” The chapter focuses specifically on Los palacios distantes (1998) and El bailarín ruso de Montecarlo (2010), in which the artists-protagonists (re)create fantastic worlds made out of ruins of an old marvelous place. The three chapters propose that bodies and objects are at the heart of the fantastic mode, and that it is through both the creation and disarticulation of these that the three vi authors are able to propose alternative worlds that emerge within a specific moment in Cuban history.