Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

In/sight of Knowledge: Seeing Women in José Saramago's Memorial do Convento and Hélia Correia's Lillias Fraser

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2010), 87, (7), 843–862.

Abstract

This article explores the literary representation of the 'seeing woman' in two contemporary Portuguese novels, Memorial do Convento (1982) by José Saramago and Lillias Fraser (2002) by Hélia Correia, drawing on feminist readings of gendered politics of sight and female visionaries by authors such as Luce Irigaray and Simone de Beauvoir, and Julia Kristeva's theoretical reading of female subjectivity in 'Women's Time'. Working from the premise that in a patriarchal society typically women do not see but are seen, this study analyses the 'dislocation' of the visionary women in these novels as women who see within a male-dominated society and challenge received social boundaries and values. Through close readings of the texts, the article argues that both Blimunda in Memorial do Convento and Lillias Fraser in Hélia Correia's novel defy the dominant patriarchal mode of seeing and create for themselves an autonomous subject-position. Thus, both novels present an imaginative re-vision of history, foregrounding the experience of extraordinary visionary women.

Este artigo analisa a representação literária de 'mulheres videntes' em dois romances portugueses contemporâneos, Memorial do Convento (1982) de José Saramago e Lillias Fraser (2002) de Hélia Correia, a partir de teorias feministas de autores como Luce Irigaray, Simone de Beauvoir, e Julia Kristeva. Partindo da premissa de que numa sociedade patriarcal as mulheres normalmente não vêem mas são vistas, este estudo examina a 'deslocação' da mulher visionária nestes romances sendo elas mulheres que vêem numa sociedade masculinista e que assim se opõem a valores e limites socialmente aceites. Atravês de um estudo profundo dos textos, o artigo demonstra que tanto Blimunda no Memorial do Convento quanto Lillias Fraser no romance de Hélia Correia desafiam o sistema patriarcal dominante quanto ao acto de ver e criam uma posição de sujeito autónomo. Neste sentido, ambos romances representam uma re-visão imaginária da história ao projetar a experiência destas mulheres visionárias excepcionais.

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Bishop-Sanchez, Kathryn