Academic journal article Hispanic Review

A Common Place: The Representation of Paris in Spanish American Fiction

Academic journal article Hispanic Review

A Common Place: The Representation of Paris in Spanish American Fiction

Article excerpt

A Common Place: The Representation of Paris in Spanish American Fiction. By Julie Jones. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1998. 136 pages.

Ever since the French-born Argentine writer Paul Groussac set part of Fruto vedado (1884) in the French capital, not a few Latin-American novelists have shown a penchant for Paris when their narrative needs demanded a foreign locale. The characters in Cambaceres' Sin rumbo, Del Solar's Rastaquouere, Blest Gana's Los transplantados, Carrillo's Maravillas, and Guiraldes' Rancho all find themselves in Paris at one time or another, but only superficially do any of these novels treat matters of identity, exile, or cultural affinities. It was left to contemporary writers to penetrate more profoundly into the Paris/Latin America relationships. For her study of these relationships and how they function narratively and within the context and meaning of the novels, Jones has chosen six novels from 1963 to 1982, all first-rate works by well-known authors, five of whom are Latin American and one Spanish. The novels that Jones reconstructs with unusual acuity, precision and clarity include Rayuela, La juventud en. la otra ribera, El recurso del metodo, Una familia lejana, Reencuentro de personajes, and Paisajes despues de la batalla. A Common Place opens with a brief but valuable overview of the author's critical argument, the historical, cultural and social issues involved in the novelistic representation of Paris, and a discussion of the novelists' use of Paris as an icon.

In Chapter 2, "The City as Text: Reading Paris in Rayuela," Jones underscores the strategies Corta.zar uses to make Paris serve as an intertext and expose it to the reader as a verbal construct. Jones' treatment of Andre Breton's Nadja as the principal intertext in Rayuela reveals her originality and acumen as a critic. The next chapter, "Dreams of a Golden Age: La juventud en la otra ribera," demonstrates how Julio Ramon Ribeyro utilizes his principal character's stay in Paris to contrast old, worn out, romantic notions of Paris with more realistic, crass images of modern Parisian society. Jones adroitly argues her thesis that key ambiguities in the circumstances surrounding the protagonist's murder "offer Ribeyro a way to deal with the utopian projection that underlies the story" (37).

Chapter 4, "At Home Abroad, Abroad at Home: El recurso del metodo," extricates Carpentier's novel from its structural complexity. …

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