Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Trauma, Myth and Imagination in Two Novels by Manlio Argueta

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2011), 88, (6), 661–664.

Abstract

This article focuses on two novels by the Salvadoran writer Manlio Argueta, both of which were published and are set during the country's recent civil war (1980–1992): Un día en la vida (1980) and Cuzcatlán, donde bate la mar del sur (1986). In both texts, Argueta presents female protagonists from rural El Salvador who convey experiences of persecution and violent repression from the authorities in a pseudo-testimonial style. Drawing from Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub's theories regarding the process and function of testimony and Gayatari Chakravorty Spivak's concept of strategic essentialism, I discuss how Argueta evokes indigenous myth as a means of illustrating the manner in which imagination and metaphor converge in the articulation of traumatic experiences that shatter ordinary frames of reference.

Este artículo se centra en dos novelas del escritor salvadoreño Manlio Argueta, ambas publicadas y ambientadas durante la reciente guerra civil del país (1980– 1992): Un día en la vida (1980) and Cuzcatlán, donde bate la mar del sur (1986). En los dos textos, Argueta presenta a protagonistas femeninas rurales de El Salvador que transmiten experiencias de persecución y represión violenta por parte de las autoridades de un modo pseudo-testimonial. Haciendo uso de las teorías de Shoshana Felman y Dori Laub sobre el proceso y la función del testimonio y del concepto del esencialismo estratégico de Gayatari Chakravorty Spivak, analizo cómo Argueta evoca mitos indígenas como un medio para ilustrar la manera en la cual la imaginación y la metáfora convergen en la articulación de experiencias traumáticas que rompen los marcos ordinarios de referencia.

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Knight, James