Representation of the political in selected writings of Julio Cortázar
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This thesis analyses the evolution of the representation of distinct political elements through Julio Cortázar’s writings, mainly with reference to the novels and the so-called collage books. I also allude to some short stories and refer to many of Cortázar’s nonliterary texts. Through this chosen corpus, I trace a thematic thread showing that politics was present in Cortázar’s fiction from his very first writings, and not – as he himself tended to claim – only following his conversion to socialism after a lifechanging trip to revolutionary Cuba. My analysis aims to show that in opposition to what many critics have argued, this crucial point in his life did not divide the writer into an irreconcilable before and after – the apolitical versus the political –, but rather, it simply shifted the emphasis of the representation of the political, which already existed in Cortázar’s writings. In order to trace this process, I carry out my analysis in chronological order, not of the publication of the works, but of the actual time when they were written. Therefore, in the first chapter, I look at some of the books written between 1948 and 1951, namely, Divertimento (1949), El examen (1950) and Diario de Andrés Fava (1951), focusing mainly on El examen; I then extend the analysis to Los premios (1960), written when Cortázar was already living in Paris. Chapter two focuses on Rayuela (1963) and the action/inaction dilemma as reflected in the novel’s protagonist. The third chapter considers a period of conflict for Cortázar, as he tries to come up with a way in which to write literature for the political revolution of Latin America, without compromising his belief in artistic freedom. To elucidate this phase, I analyse 62/modelo para armar (1968) on the one hand, and the collage books, La vuelta al día en ochenta mundos (1967) and Último Round (1969), on the other. My fourth and final chapter examines Libro de Manuel (1973), Cortázar’s explicit attempt to converge literature, politics and history, and assesses the results of this effort to merge art and politics, allegedly without making aesthetic concessions. Although there have been works analysing the political dimension of specific texts (particularly of his short stories), no study to date has analysed the evolution of the political element throughout Cortázar’s writings, from the first unpublished novels to his later more experimental works. The originality of my thesis lies in the tracing of this progression through an extensive analysis of these works. My examination is also original insofar as it refers to unpublished material – a selection of Cortázar’s manuscripts from Princeton University Library – to the most recent posthumous publications – such as Papeles inesperados (2009) – and to a series of personal interviews with Argentinian writers associated with Cortázar. This research therefore hopes to bring unique insight that will further the overall understanding of this major and influential writer of the twentieth century.