Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

From Athens to Managua: Myth and Sacrifice in Michele Najlis' Cantos de Ifigenia

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2012), 89, (8), 883–904.

Abstract

Michele Najlis is a Nicaraguan poet whose work emerged alongside the Sandinista insurrection. The Sandinistas were removed from office in 1990, creating, in political and cultural terms, one of those ‘boundary situations’ outlined by Paul Ricoeur, when a community will ‘return to […] that mythical nucleus which ultimately grounds and determines it’ (Ricoeur 1982: 262). In 1991, Najlis published her collection Cantos de Ifigenia, which mines that mythical nucleus. This article reads Najlis' collection in the light of hermeneutic theory and classical myth, and situates it as a conscious reworking of the Iphigenia myth and an exploration of the dynamics of sacrifice in Sandinista Nicaragua. It examines the profound sense of war-weariness that Najlis' Iphigenia shares with the dramatizations of Iphigenia by Euripides and Aeschylus in fifth-century BC Athens. Ricoeur's reflections on myth and ‘the recreation of language’ are presented as a possible explanation for Najlis' use of classical mythology in her work at this time.

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Anderson, Benedict, 1983. Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso). Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism Google Scholar

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Borgeson, Paul, 1984. Hacia el hombre nuevo: poesía y pensamiento de Ernesto Cardenal (London: Tamesis Books). Hacia el hombre nuevo: poesía y pensamiento de Ernesto Cardenal Google Scholar

Euripides, 1972. Iphigenia in Aulis, in Orestes and Other Plays (London: Penguin Books). Google Scholar

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Franco, Jean, 2002. The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City. Latin America in the Cold War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press). The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City. Latin America in the Cold War Google Scholar

Gregory, Justina, 1997. Euripides and the Instruction of the Athenians (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press). Euripides and the Instruction of the Athenians Google Scholar

Hall, Edith, 2000. ‘Introduction’, in Euripides. Bacchae and Other Plays (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Euripides. Bacchae and Other Plays Google Scholar

Harlow, Barbara, 1987. Resistance Literature (New York: Methuen) Resistance Literature Google Scholar

Kaminsky, Amy, 1995. ‘The Poet after the Revolution: Intertextuality and Defiance in Michele Najlis’ Cantos de Ifigenia', Latin American Literary Review, 23.46: 48-65. ‘The Poet after the Revolution: Intertextuality and Defiance in Michele Najlis’ Cantos de Ifigenia' Latin American Literary Review 23 48 65 Google Scholar

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Najlis, Michele, 1969. El viento armado (Guatemala: Editorial Universitaria). El viento armado Google Scholar

Najlis, Michele, 1980. Augurios (San José: Editorial Costa Rica). Augurios Google Scholar

Najlis, Michele, 1988. Ars combinatoria (Managua: Editorial Nueva Nicaragua). Ars combinatoria Google Scholar

Najlis, Michele, 1991. Cantos de Iphigenia (Managua: Vanguardia). Cantos de Iphigenia Google Scholar

O'Kane, Trish, 1990. ‘The New Old Order’, NACLA Report on the Americas, 24.2 (June): 28-36. ‘The New Old Order’ NACLA Report on the Americas 24 28 36 Google Scholar

Ramírez, Sergio, 1992. Confesión de amor (Madrid: Talasa). Confesión de amor Google Scholar

Reif, Linda, 1986. ‘Women in Latin American Guerrilla Movements. A Comparative Perspective’, Comparative Politics, 18 (January):147-69. ‘Women in Latin American Guerrilla Movements. A Comparative Perspective’ Comparative Politics 18 147 69 Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul, 1982. ‘Myth as a Bearer of Possible Worlds’. Interview with Richard Kearney, in The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, 1977-1981 (Dublin: Blackman Press), pp. 260-66. The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies, 1977-1981 260 66 Google Scholar

Rodríguez, Ileana, 1993. Registradas en la historia. Diez años del quehacer feminista en Nicaragua (Managua: Editorial Vanguardia). Registradas en la historia. Diez años del quehacer feminista en Nicaragua Google Scholar

Scarry, Elaine, 1985. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press). The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World Google Scholar

Shaughnessy, Lorna, 1995. ‘Military Participation and Moral Authority: Women's Political Participation in Nicaragua, 1975-1995’, UCG Women's Studies Review, 3: 151-65. ‘Military Participation and Moral Authority: Women's Political Participation in Nicaragua, 1975-1995’ UCG Women's Studies Review 3 151 65 Google Scholar

Sommerstein, Alan H., 2002. Greek Drama and Dramatists (London and New York: Routledge). Greek Drama and Dramatists Google Scholar

Stanford, W. B., 1976. ‘Introduction to Aeschylus’, in The Oresteia, trans. Robert Fagles (London: Wildwood House). The Oresteia Google Scholar

Steiner, George, 1984. Antigones (Oxford: Clarendon Press). Antigones Google Scholar

Vellacott, Phillip (trans.), 1972. ‘Introduction’ in Orestes and Other Plays (London: Penguin Books). Orestes and Other Plays Google Scholar

Zamora, Daisy (ed.), 1992. La mujer nicaragüense en la poesía (Managua: Editorial Nueva Nicaragua). La mujer nicaragüense en la poesía Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Shaughnessy, Lorna