Unwriting the Author: Affect and Authorship in Macedonio Fernández, Felisberto Hernández, and Clarice Lispector
Sutton, Camille Jordan
This dissertation offers a new approach to the 20th century Latin American prose writers Macedonio Fernández (Argentina, 1874-1952), Felisberto Hernández (Uruguay, 1902-1964), and Clarice Lispector (Brazil, 1920-1977). My approach is based on the study of affect, understood as an examination of the textual representation of mental and emotional states. An affect-oriented perspective reveals that these authors represent a unique reaction to the avant-garde cultural movements of early 20th century Latin America, one that is manifested in the image of the artist that they present in their work. The Latin American avant-gardes portrayed artists as privileged individuals privy to vivid, extreme sensations and perceptions, whereas, in the work of Fernández, Hernández, and Lispector, the artist’s feelings are unfocused and his or her perceptive powers are dulled. This creates an image of a decentered artist who is mired in ambivalence—a vague, uneasy affective state that is expressed most notably in the inattentiveness with which the artist approaches the creative process. This phenomenon—a combination of both affective and attentional decentering—marks a critical moment in the development of the figure of the artist in Latin American literature, moving away from the heroic artist portrayed by the avant-garde (inherited from romanticism and Spanish American modernismo) and anticipating the "death of the author" so prevalent in the Latin American "Boom."