My article, entitled “Non serviam: Joyce and Mexico”, has been published in the summer edition of Comparative Literature (64.2 (2012): 192-206). Though it’s not up on the journal website yet, I am including the link for future reference. Here is the abstract:
The present work argues that the lowest common denominator for the incorporation of Joycean aesthetics into Mexican letters is a persistent quest for universality and examines how Fernando del Paso and Salvador Elizondo, two Mexican authors at opposite ends of what might be termed the Joycean spectrum, assimilate Joyce into their respective cultural projects. Part and parcel of that quest demands defiant attitudes both towards peripheral literary nationalism and cosmopolitan assignations of cultural inferiority. This paper endeavors to answer two seminal questions: How do Del Paso and Elizondo constitute themselves as participatory members in the larger field of Western and world culture, and how does the apparent divestment of national cultural identities actually reaffirm the importance of that identity? Specifically I am intrigued by the different ways they dialogue with Joyce both as literary icon and body of texts in order to assert their cultural credentials on the world stage. To that end, the present work is divided into three sections. The first examines how Joyce arrived in Mexico and the critical context that brought his work into the center of discussions about literature in the 1960s as well as the ways in which updated theoretical approaches can help move beyond comparative narratologies. The second section examines Del Paso’s engagement with the Western canon in his public addresses and his parodic subversions of Joycean texts. The third section studies Elizondo’s appropriation of Joyce’s early aesthetics and his translation of the first page of Finnegans Wake.
Cult of Defeat in Mexico’s Historical Fiction: Failure, Trauma, and Loss examines recent Mexican historical novels that highlight the mistakes of the nineteenth century for the purpose of responding to present crises. Over the last twenty years, historical novels have become a mainstay for major presses, surpassing other fictional genres in publication and sales. As these bestsellers enter the public sphere, they engage in a massive rewrite of the country’s guiding fictions and national myths. This book argues that historical reconstructions of the nation’s foundational period acquire deeper meaning when understood as part of broad contemporary debates about globalization, neoliberalism, political legitimacy, and the crises afflicting Mexican communities today.
And for everyone itching to see what’s inside, here is the Table of Contents:
- Introduction: The Stellar Moments of Mexican History and the Rhetoric of Failure
- Chapter 1 – A Mexican Comedy of Errors in Jorge Ibargüengoitia’s Self-Correcting Independence History
- Chapter 2 – Cross-Dressing the Second Empire in Fernando del Paso’s Noticias del imperio
- Chapter 3 – The Voices of the Master in Enrique Serna’s El seductor de la patria
- Chapter 4 – Paralysis and Redemption in Three Novels about the Mexican-American War
- Conclusion: Bicentennial Reflections on Failure