The Sommer paper

Titles, notes, and phrases I did not use in the abstract, but must think about, include:

1. Fractured families and dystopian romance in 19th century Latin American narrative
2. Fictional foundations: anti-national non-romance (or anti-national fantasy, colonial rhapsody)
3. Celui n’est pas mon père (yet more fun: Ceci n’est pas mon père)
4. Colonial rhapsody
5. Anti-nation non-narration (review Bhabha)

The volume is pathbreaking and has lasting value, but became landmark in part because of the dearth of work on these novels and the claims of some Boom writers that it was not worth reading anyone before them. NO: Paulk’s explanation of why to move beyond Sommer is better.

Reviews like this one remind us that for Sommer “unsuccessful or tragic versions of these romances point toward the problems that need to be solved in order to attain an ideal future” but I say not. Also note: Ramos talks about national, not foundational fictions, that needs to be discussed/evaluated. Is it enough to make this shift?

A vague and watery, unstable grounding of a [nation]. These novels are not about founding and growing but about emptyingnot about founding a nation but about what is lost and not gained, by the criollo classes, in the transition?

What does it mean to cite these texts as national fictions, if they are about emptying?

Paulk’s points on María are my starting point. Then I point out how OM, Sab and ASN are also diasporic – they’re about not being able to find a home / about displacement.

What about originary violence / violence at origin — it seems that they keep re-staging this, don’t move beyond (I will have to study this, too).

Villaverde’s father-in-law was Inocencio Casanova. So V. writes CV in the US, using many US sources, where he is married to the daughter of this sugar planter who is using family money to run guns to Cuba, against Spain.

In the paper I will quote/refer to Paulk:

“A recent study, ‘Judaísmo y desarraigo en María de Jorge Isaacs’ by Gustavo Faverón Patriau, calls Sommer’s interpretation into question by proposing that Isaacs’ novel does not propose unification through mestizaje but rather is a novel of exile and diaspora (341).” (This sentence is in “Foundational Fiction and Representations of Jewish Identity in Jorge Isaacs’ María.”)

There is a book by one Beckman, Capital Fictions, that I should read. I should also think about the role of Rama/Ciudad letrada here — Sommer is very convincing in her argument that this (what she sees) really is how leaders of the time thought; key in my argument is that she puts far too much faith in what some said of the power of mestizaje, including projecting backward from 1980s acceptance of 1930s ideas.

A question I have is about the need to mix bloods to unify the people. My immediate reaction, years ago, was that the problem was the inability to conceive of equality and cultural difference at the same time; I believe it is Paulk who also says this (and is the first person I have seen say it).


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