Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Lacanian Textuality in Carlos Fuentes's Aura and Henry James's The Turn of the Screw

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2006), 83, (4), 385–400.

Abstract

This study offers a new reading of Carlos Fuentes's Gothic novella Aura with an intertextual approach that focuses on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw and, in particular, on Shoshana Felman's seminal essay on that text. Concentrating on Fuentes's use of the second-person singular narrative — the most striking formal aspect of the text — my reading argues against the common tendency of critics to resolve the identity of the narrator. Instead, this study contends that Fuentes's persistence with the second-person narrative is aimed at replicating a textual practice akin to the Lacanian notion of the text as the Unconscious or the Other. In a way that profoundly echoes Felman's reading of James — the latter an acknowledged influence on Aura — the metamorphoses of the characters and, crucially, the narrator in Fuentes's text, can be read as metaphors for transference and, therefore, as an exploration of the process of identity construction via language.

El propósito de este artículo es elaborar una nueva interpretación intertextual de Aura, la breve novela gótica de Carlos Fuentes, centrada en Otra vuelta de tuerca de Henry James, y, en particular, en el influyente ensayo de Shoshana Felman sobre este texto. Basándose en el uso que Fuentes hace de la narración a segunda persona singular — el aspecto formal más destacado del texto — mi lectura de Aura contradice la tendencia de la crítica a intentar solucionar la identidad de la voz narrativa. Por el contrario, en este estudio se plantea que el persistente recurso de Fuentes a la narración a segunda persona tiene como objetivo replicar una práctica textual afín a la noción Lacaniana del texto como el Inconsciente o el Otro. Haciéndose eco de la lectura que Felman hace de James — éste una reconocida influencia sobre Aura —, las metamorfosis de los personajes y, de suma importancia, del narrador en el texto de Fuentes, pueden leerse como metáforas de la transferencia y, por tanto, como exploración del proceso de construcción de la identidad a través del lenguaje.

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Penn, Sheldon