Academic journal article MACLAS Latin American Essays

Literary Excursion into the Discomfort Zone: A Study of the Adaptation from Textual to Visual Representation in Gambaro's El Desatino

Academic journal article MACLAS Latin American Essays

Literary Excursion into the Discomfort Zone: A Study of the Adaptation from Textual to Visual Representation in Gambaro's El Desatino

Article excerpt

Introduction

Griselda Gambaro's fame as a brilliant Argentine dramatist overshadows her work as a skilled novelist. It is not well known that a portion of her acclaimed works are adaptations for the stage from narratives written earlier. For example, Gambaro's short story, El desatino, was published in 1963 in a collection of short narratives, but her pivotal work is its dramatic adaptation performed in 1965 with the same title. In the decade of the 1960's, working in close association with the Instituto Torcuato di Tella, this dramatist focuses on the artistic experimentation introduced by a group of Italian playwrights collectively referred to as the Theater of the Grotesque, or teatro del grotesco.

This analysis of Griselda Gambaro's El desatino, from the perspective of its evolution from textual narrative to its dramatic performance for the stage, traces the grotesque elements with respect to the dichotomy of truth and fiction as seen in the perception of reality. Gambaro problematizes the conventional notion of a unified vision of reality and challenges the reader/spectator, external to the texts, to a new way of "seeing." Her works challenge the pervasive blindness to cultural contradictions she finds prevalent in Argentina's society.

Looking beyond Argentina, we find many historical characters and historical events that transcend the mundane character of every day life, projecting the extreme images of an unconventional over-sized reality (1) beset by contradictions. This conveys a special meaning to the term "colorful" in the descriptive phrase "colorful Latin America" often used to denote the continent. Many intellectuals have become aware that Latin American reality has been associated with irreducible contradictions which have served to differentiate the cultural framework of the New World from the Old World. Although the "colorful" aspect of Latin American culture can be a highly marketable commodity, it has come under scrutiny. The notion of "difference," which exhibits itself in a contradictory reality, can easily slip into inequality / inferiority and become ingrained as part of cultural identity, sustaining an ideology of oppression. Much of Latin American contemporary literary production can be seen to communicate, with a sense of urgency, the need to undermine the pervasive ideology of oppression imbedded in the notion of "difference." Accordingly, conventional methods used to depict the unconventional reality of the New World aim to offer a critique of the cultural contradictions that have been tacitly accepted as the norm.

The focus on cultural contradictions resonates as both universal and particularly Argentine in character. In the case of Argentina, simply taking a look at a map will present us with contradictions when we consider the country's physical size and location. Argentina's natural hegemony over the region, by virtue of being the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the continent, is contradicted by her remote geographical position occupying the southernmost territory and, consequently, being the most removed from the cultural and economic centers of the New World. The peripheral status of this area extends beyond its geography and it is traceable to its historical origins. Records documenting the projects of exploration and conquest of the early sixteenth century (2) reinforce the marginal status of this portion of the continent. Unlike Mexico, in Central America, and Peru, in the Andean region, that had the wide-spread reputation of having hidden treasures, the Southern area along the Plata region held no particular interest for the Spanish crown since there were no confirmed reports of deposits of gold or silver, and the Indian population was wild and unusable--inutil--for labor. Typically, Spaniards arrived to this area, coming from Mexico or Peru via Chile, en route to other more exciting points. Early travelers cris-crossed the land searching for routes to the elusive Orient. …

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