Lineas de fuga: The Character of Writing in the Novels of Cristina Rivera Garza

by Samuelson, Cheyla, Ph.D., UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA, 2011, 412 pages; 3482024


My dissertation explores the fictional representation of the writer, and of writing itself, in the novels of Mexican author Cristina Rivera Garza (Matamoros, 1964). I argue that her creative exploration of this figure evidences a sustained engagement with contemporary dilemmas of authorship, intertextuality, agency and gender. In each novel, Rivera Garza appropriates, parodies and transforms the discursive style of existing literary genres (historical, fantastical and detective fiction) to produce new líneas de fuga: lines of escape, or flight, from traditional narrative forms, conventional worldviews and critical stances.

My study of Nadie me verá llorar (1999) focuses on the writerly activities of three central characters as enacting distinct discursive styles, including those of psychoanalysis, mental illness and creative writing. I elucidate how Rivera Garza's evocative corrective to the omissions and obsessions of la novela de la Revolución incorporates a self-aware, metanarrative critique of her own authorial desire to rescue the lost souls of Revolution era Mexico. In La cresta de Ilión (2002), Mexican writer Amparo Dávila appears as a fictional character, and Rivera Garza's intertextual borrowing from Dávila's fantastic stories destabilizes existing models of an oedipalized 'anxiety of influence,' but also problematizes alternative feminist models of influence for 'women's writing.' The final paradox of the narrator's gender identity urges an acceptance of the simultaneous existence of multiple and irreconcilable discourses in the text. Posed as a detective thriller, La muerte me da (2007) defies traditional genre mandates to pursue the mystery of authorial identity and saturated intertextuality. A fictional character named Cristina Rivera Garza appears as writer, professor, witness and suspect in a series of grisly crimes that incorporate Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik's violent imagery, and include symbolically charged ritualistic castration. I argue that this novel presents an image of the writer as a porous subject constituted through the reading and re-writing of prior texts, and also as a complicit and mutable agency in the novel. Throughout, Rivera Garza's texts enact an ethics of writing that recognizes the inevitable conundrums of creativity and representation, and advocates an unquiet acceptance of the paradoxical and always compromised nature of the artist's endeavor.

AdviserSara Poot-Herrera
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsLatin American literature; Literature
Publication Number3482024

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