Academic journal article Theory in Action

Food Fights: The Intertextuality of Food in Cien Años De Soledad and Gabriela, Cravo E Canela

Academic journal article Theory in Action

Food Fights: The Intertextuality of Food in Cien Años De Soledad and Gabriela, Cravo E Canela

Article excerpt

Critical insularity will never be a term that will be confused with Gabriel García Márquez' s Cien años de soledad (1967). Indeed, the novel's manifold linguistic translations and scholarly studies from around the world confirm that this work truly transcends borders. In a purely literary context, García Márquez' s masterpiece has encouraged intertextual investigations with Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, and William Faulkner, among others.2 Curiously, this comparative critical tendency has not managed to cross South America's linguistic frontiers, however; Brazil's rich literary tradition remains unexplored in this regard. The question of literary roots, whether intentional or unintentional, becomes especially pressing when one considers the extensive production of the Brazilian novelist Jorge Amado. While the latter' s artistic oeuvre begins in earnest in the 1930's, it is Amado's 1958 novel Gabriela, cravo e canela that calls particular attention to the motif of food which, in turn, serves as a continuing preoccupation in García Márquez' s novel nine years later. Specifically, the dynamics of power and the satisfaction of basic gastronomic needs constitute two intertextual components that suggest a certain amount of aesthetic resonance detected between Amado's and García Márquez's texts. Beginning with the dominating figures of cacao and bananas respectively, Gabriela, cravo e canela and Cien años de soledad foreground cash crops as a problematic nutrient in the development of Latin America's "continental body" of the 1950's and '60's.

INTERTEXTUAL AND INTRACONTINENTAL MATTERS

Upon embarking on an approach to the concept of intertextuality, one immediately finds him- or herself in an uncomfortable position of theoretical limbo. That is, in a realm of "in-between" books where the object of study is not one text or another but rather, their discursive negotiation. From Julia Kristeva's point of view, this crossing of works should be evaluated in terms of a linguistic thickness that demonstrates multiple textual influences: "each word (text) is an intersection of word (texts) where at least one other word (text) can be read" Desire in Language 66). This idea of a discursive collision in narrative works is further elaborated in Mikhail Bakhtin's conception of intertextuality. Once again, there is an emphasis on the presence of more than one intention in novelistic language: "The word is born in a dialogue as a living rejoinder within it; the word is shaped in dialogic interaction with an alien word that is already in the object" (Dialogic Imagination 279). Echoes of previous voices and discursive contributions characterize even the most banal selections of novelistic vocabulary, and the indication of an implicit "dialogue" with these earlier artistic interjections certainly illuminates a critical movement toward multiple textual interpretations.

On the other hand, despite the critical possibilities that these visions of intertextuality make apparent, Kristeva and Bakhtin's theories still do not resolve the inevitable feelings of textual rootlessness and uncertainty that accompany these approaches. While the point of contact between words first introduced by Kristeva is truly a useful notion, this idea of an "intersection" marks a specific point in textual space that seemingly begs to be located and evaluated. Immediately, the critic asks the question: Where exactly is this node of textual collisions to be found in a given novel? Does the concept of a firm discursive meeting point suggest an inevitable urgency to locate the source of this multi-intentional text as well? Furthermore, Bakhtin's revolutionary contribution of a constant two-sided (or more) conversation in the novelistic vocabulary also creates a theoretical situation inherently recommending a search for the other voice in this "dialogue"; a word is not really understood contextually without identifying its aesthetic influences. In the final analysis, then, these two foundational building blocks of the theory of intertextuality tend to direct a critic's eye toward certain nodes or binary entities that dramatize the variety of discursive contributors to a given novelistic text. …

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