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Bryan T. In the process, they call into question both the masculine underpinnings of the aesthetics they engage of naturalism and the fantastic and the authority of various male figures doctors, priests, fathers and husbands who consider control over women's bodies their natural right.
I n Over Her Dead Body : Death, Femininity, and the Aesthetic , Elisabeth Bronfen notes that women writers face a dilemma when they attempt to call into question male authors' continual — even obsessive — representation of dead females: in order to critique this practice, they have to depict a woman's death.
Such narratives, she says, represent the topos and trope of feminine death differently […] remain[ing] uncannily between a disavowal and an affirmation of the dominant image repertoire; hovering between cultural complicity and critique. To investigate women's appropriation of the fantastic is not to search for an autonomous female voice, realm or language. The narratives I consider do not provide answers to the problems of the dire situation of the women they describe.
In one of the best-known depictions of literary figures of the nineteenth century, the cartoonist Lemot depicted Gustave Flaubert holding a scalpel that has pierced a heart, which drips blood into an inkwell on the floor. Though the face of the object of this anatomical-literary lesson is not visible, the subject on the table wears high heels, leaving little doubt as to her gender. For Doctor Pascal, illumination comes in the form of a cache of pregnant women who have died during an epidemic of cholera.
But unlike the French author, she does not bolster her authorial authority by establishing a parallel with a doctor or any other professional. On the contrary, she subtly but surely undercuts the two men invested with authority in her story, the pharmacist and the priest, who, for their great arrogance, appear not only as unworthy of emulation but also as unwitting accomplices of a ghastly crime.
The story tells of a young protagonist, Minia, who was orphaned at the age of one and a half, recently weaned from her mother's breast. Her life is, in short, a hell on earth, and the young girl wishes for death.
Each night, Minia falls asleep exhausted and hungry, but before going to bed she prays to the patron saint of the town, Saint Minia, to take her away with her so that she might rest. Taking this hearsay as fact, she kills her niece and takes out her viscera.
And though the text is vague on this point, she may have also extracted Minia's uterus, which, as the life-giving part of the female, would have been considered the most curative part of the young girl.
One might suspect this even more given the way the story's title seems to insist on a parallel with the internationally famous murderer of ten years earlier. Yet the Spanish author veers away from a typical naturalist ending, frustrating the reader's expectation of a realistic scene of butchery as might seem to be promised by the story's title. In the moment Minia dies, murdered in her sleep, the text slips seamlessly from a naturalist description of the drunken husband, of the stable where Minia sleeps to the fantastic.
She prays, says the narrator, just like every other night, and imagines the effigy of Saint Minia, but with one very strange difference: it is not the saint who is in the glass case in the church between the candles holding a palm branch in her hands and wearing a crown of roses, but she, Minia. At the moment of the murder, says the narrator: the bleeding cut opened in her own throat, and through it her life flowed out, sweetly and imperceptibly, in very soft little waves of blood, that upon seeping out left her tranquil, transposed, blessed … A sigh escaped from the child's chest; her eyes rolled back into her head, she shuddered …, and she became completely inert.
Her last confused impression was that she had arrived in heaven, accompanied by the Patron Saint. In this transition from naturalism to the fantastic, Minia's body becomes sacramentalised. As in the process of transubstantiation, in which a Roman Catholic priest transforms a piece of bread the host into the flesh of Jesus Christ, in Minia's transmutation an inanimate substance the wax statue incrusted with relics becomes inhabited by a living being. For not only had the priest advised his friend the pharmacist to keep quiet about his actions, he also suggested he sell the prescriptions even more expensively because they were believed to be made from dead girls.
In fact, she not only takes the process of making a saint beatification and canonisation out of ecclesiastical hands but actually secularises it as well.
Instead, he cloaks his science in mystery, mixing his medicines in a back room to further his mystique of a witch doctor, which ends up making his business even more profitable, as he draws more clients away from his competition, the local curanderas , or medicine women.
Don Custodio, then, like the canon Llorente, appears as an irresponsible custodian of the truth, and we can safely assume that no writer would wish to follow his example. But, she adds, they should not be treated lightly or in an impersonal and detached manner. She saw him by the seashore, she says, and, just before Eros could get one of his arrows out from his quiver to shoot at her, she caught him by the neck. In the context of women writers and the fantastic, one image in particular stands out from the rest: that of the female as a life-size doll, a toy that dates back at least to the invention of automata in the late eighteenth century and their appearance in the tales of E.
When the protagonist, a maiden aunt, is bathing in a river, a chigger or harvest mite enters her thigh and causes it to swell to immense proportions. And as she cannot get married and have children, she instead channels her creative energy into her art, which consists of the fabrication of life-size dolls, which she gives as gifts to her nine nieces. The son, a doctor like his father, married the niece not for love, however, but for status.
After their marriage, he obliges the niece to sit out on the balcony as a reminder to passersby that he has married into high society. Over time, the husband grows old but not his wife, who always sits silently on the porch — much like the doll sits inside at the piano — for all to see.
Curiously, she appears to look more and more like her porcelain, honey-filled double, whose diamond eyes the greedy husband plucks out. The story ends in an astonishing moment of the fantastic: when the husband lowers his stethoscope to examine his wife, he finds that she has metamorphosed into the doll.
Suddenly, however, she departs from her choreographed part and improvises her own surprising twist to the tale. Yet this young beauty had not imagined that her prince might really be a beast who would betray his promise of protected sex in the most violent way imaginable: he rapes her. First, the causes: Felisberto forces himself upon his wife as a way of affirming his possession of her, of cementing the relationship between them through a son, thereby establishing equality with the elite into which he has married, and of asserting his primacy in her life over her art.
If her husband treats her like an object, she seems to imply, then she will play the part and accept money for sex. Emptying herself of all sentiment, the ballerina dresses herself up like a caricature of a male fantasy of a garishly-dressed sex worker.
Hoffmann to their limits, in Pandora's Papers the erotic often goes hand in hand with madness. Yet, following the logic of carnival, this excess is ultimately contained. Those who saw her, writes her father, said that it seemed she was performing the role of Sleeping Beauty for the last time.
Through her use of metamorphoses and doubles of the fantastic, her characters inhabit the figure of the doll, a substitute for perfect femininity, and rip it apart from the inside out. Yet unlike Storni's poem, which ends with the disdain of Diana towards Eros' protector, the Moon, she knows that these dolls will be stitched up again. Though a bit the worse for wear, the status quo will survive and society will impose its norms on young girls by picturing them as Sleeping Beauties, preferring that their potential for questioning and change remain dormant.
In these writers' stories, there is no happily-ever-after for their protagonists, which is, of course, one of their main points. Yet while they are not optimistic about the likelihood of immediate change, their use of the fantastic allows for an opening up to the possibility of a better future, for a time when, hopefully, all women might live to tell their tales. I wish to thank Kristine Ibsen and James D.
All translations from Spanish, throughout, are mine. Prendergast Minneapolis, , pp. On this topic, see A. See C. Newman Durham, , pp. Cheetham Ann Arbor, , pp. She is found out to be the Big Bad Wolf, however, and is executed for her crime. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account.
Sign In. Advanced Search. Search Menu. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Article Contents Abstract. An anatomy lesson. On death and dolls. An open ending. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Cite Bryan T. Select Format Select format. Permissions Icon Permissions. All rights reserved. Issue Section:. Download all figures.
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Related articles in Google Scholar. Citing articles via Google Scholar. Wolff , Lynn L. Adler — Bond , Emma. Writing Migration through the Body. David Mitchell.
Un destripador de antaño : (historias y cuentos de Galicia)
Bryan T. In the process, they call into question both the masculine underpinnings of the aesthetics they engage of naturalism and the fantastic and the authority of various male figures doctors, priests, fathers and husbands who consider control over women's bodies their natural right. I n Over Her Dead Body : Death, Femininity, and the Aesthetic , Elisabeth Bronfen notes that women writers face a dilemma when they attempt to call into question male authors' continual — even obsessive — representation of dead females: in order to critique this practice, they have to depict a woman's death. Such narratives, she says, represent the topos and trope of feminine death differently […] remain[ing] uncannily between a disavowal and an affirmation of the dominant image repertoire; hovering between cultural complicity and critique. To investigate women's appropriation of the fantastic is not to search for an autonomous female voice, realm or language.
El destripador de antaño