At Face Value: Autobiographical Writing in Spanish America by Sylvia Molloy

By Sylvia Molloy

This learn of Spanish American autobiography from its beginnings within the post-colonial 19th century to the current day concentrates often on cultural and old matters. Spanish American autobiographies are interesting hybrids, usually wielding a number of discourses straight away. They aspire to documentary prestige whereas unabashedly exalting the self, and live on own event whereas purporting to be routines in historiography, the founding texts of a countrywide archive. Professor Molloy examines quite a lot of texts, from Sarmiento's Recuerdos de provincia to Victoria Ocampo's Autobiografia. She analyses their textual innovations, the common affiliations they declare, their courting to the eu canon and their discussion with precursor texts, in addition to their problematical use of reminiscence and the ideological implications in their repressive strategies. this technique allows her to spot perceptions of self and tensions among self and different, hence laying off gentle at the fluctuating position of the topic inside a group.

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Extra info for At Face Value: Autobiographical Writing in Spanish America

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I went to Copiapo [where Sarmiento worked in a mine with other Argentine emigres] and translated the sixty volumes of Walter Scott's complete works at the rate of a novel a day . . In Copiapo many still remember the miner who was always reading. (p. 178) To read, then, would be to translate - but to translate in what fashion? Sarmiento obviously gives the word a special meaning, implies a translation "for myself of which no written record remains. But why, then, use the verb to translate and not, as one would expect, simply the verb to read?

Sarmiento, claim his opponents, does not know; what they fail to see is that he knows differently. Appearing as they do in a chapter ofRecuerdos deprovincia crucial to the autobiographical strategy, Sarmiento's considerations on plagiarism are of particular interest. Recuerdos, it will be remembered, follows a genealogical schema. Building up a complex family romance, Sarmiento evokes, one by one, from chapter to chapter, illustrious figures - heroes with whom he identifies and through whom he extolls his own best qualities - to replace his ineffectual father.

Yet, while not connected directly with reading, they are not left speechless and early nineteenth-century autobiographies often present them as powerful (and useful) storytellers. A constant in Sarmiento's Recuerdos de provincia, when trying to reconstruct the history of his province of which no written record remains, is the phrase "cuentame mi madre," evoking the oral testimony of the mother. With the passing of time, the mentors associated with the scene of reading change. In twentieth-century autobiographies women do appear as meaningful figures of cultural influence and even, at times, of cultural authority.

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