Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

El País De la Guerra

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

El País De la Guerra

Article excerpt

MARTÍN KOHAN, El país de la guerra. Buenos Aires: Eterna Cadencia. 2014. 320 pp. ISBN 978-987-712-054-7.

In El país de la guerra, Martín Kohan offers a reading of Argentine history and literature that places war at the centre of the country's political and cultural life. Tracing a critical line from Bartolomé Mitre's historical writings through to the recent past, Kohan's essay encourages us to hear the drums of war as the steady heartbeat of Argentine identity.

The text leads us through key moments of Argentine history, from the wars of Independence to Malvinas via Peronism and the 1976-1983 dictatorship, unravelling the narrative of war in operation at different historical moments. Although the work is listed as a political essay (and it certainly covers much of Argentina's political history), its approach is clearly grounded in the techniques of literary analysis. Most of its 21 chapters are structured around the discussion of a text, examining how each one is informed by, and contributes to, Argentina's national narratives of war. The selected texts range from some of Argentina's bestknown literary works (including Facundo, 'El matadero', Martín Fierro and Los pichiciegos) to texts written by Argentine historical figures, from José de San Martín and Che Guevara through to Jorge Videla. Regardless of whether the selected object of study is literary or historical, each one is considered as an act of narration in dialogue with a long history of representations of war, revealing in equal measure literature's intersections with political realities and historical figures as self-conscious narrators of their own acts.

The essay's overriding argument traces a path from the 'sanctification' of the wars of independence through to the implosion of this national narrative of heroism in Malvinas (or, more precisely, in literary configurations of Malvinas). This argument builds on Kohan's previous work, particularly Narrar a San Martín (2005), which examines the discursive construction of Argentina's padre de la patria, and his previous writings on representations of Malvinas in literature. …

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