Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Lugones and the Woman Question: Reconsidering the Status Quo and Reimagining the Femme Fatale in His Early Works

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2019), 96, (3), 309–323.

Abstract

This study focuses on the short story ‘La vampira’ (1899), a previously unstudied text by the Argentine author Leopoldo Lugones (1874–1938). Taking into account his two essays on women written within the same time frame as the story, ‘La educación de la mujer: lo que es y lo que debe ser’ (1893) and ‘La cuestión feminista’ (1897), I suggest that while ‘La vampira’ superficially conforms to the image of the vampiric femme fatale of the late nineteenth-century European literary tradition, the text radically dismantles this image through the use of irony, parody, and a sympathetic gaze towards the female protagonist. Specifically, the text questions traditional modes of representation within the male-dominated European literary tradition, confirms the illusoriness of ideological constructs such as sex and gender norms, and challenges contemporary fears surrounding female autonomy.

Este estudio se enfoca en un cuento todavía no observado por la crítica, ‘La vampira’ (1899) del autor argentino Leopoldo Lugones (1874–1938). Tomando en cuenta sus dos ensayos sobre la mujer escrito alrededor del mismo tiempo que el cuento, ‘La educación de la mujer: lo que es y lo que debe ser’ (1893) y ‘La cuestión feminista’ (1897), sugiero que mientras ‘La vampira’ parece conformarse a la imagen de la mujer fatal vampírica de la tradición literaria europea finisecular, el texto desmonta esta imagen de una manera radical a través del uso de la ironía, la parodia y una mirada simpática hacia la protagonista titular. Específicamente, el texto cuestiona los modos tradicionales de representación dentro de la tradición literaria europea y masculina y los temores acerca de la autonomía femenina a la vez que confirma lo ilusorio que son las construcciones ideológicas genéricas y sexuales.

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Works cited

Artagaveytia, Martín, 2011. ‘Nota biográfica’, in Los cuentos de Leopoldo Lugones, ed. Martín Artagaveytia (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Díada S.R.L.), pp. 5-13. Google Scholar

Borges, Jorge Luis, 1955. Leopoldo Lugones (Buenos Aires: Troquel). Google Scholar

Braun, Heather, 2012. ‘From Sensation Novel to Vampire Tale: The Erotic Femme Fatale’, in The Rise and Fall of the Femme Fatale in British Literature, 1790–1910 by Heather L. Braun (Vancouver, BC: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), pp. 81-107. Google Scholar

Bronfen, Elisabeth, 1992. Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Google Scholar

Canedo, Alfredo, 1974. ‘Introducción’, in Aspectos del pensamiento político de Leopoldo Lugones (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Marcos), pp. 8-12. Google Scholar

Chaves, José Ricardo, 2008. ‘Romanticism, Occultism and the Fantastic Genre in Spain and Latin America’, in Romantic Prose Fiction, ed. Gerald Gillespie, Manfred Engel and Bernard Dieterle (Amsterdam: John Benjamins), pp. 622-42. Google Scholar

Dalley, Lana L., and Jill Rappoport, 2013. ‘Introducing Economic Women’, in Economic Women: Essays on Desire and Dispossession in Nineteenth-Century British Culture, ed. Lana L. Dalley and Jill Rappoport (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press), pp. 1-21. Google Scholar

Frost, Brian J., 1989. The Monster with a Thousand Faces: Guises of the Vampire in Myth and Literature (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press). Google Scholar

Jeffress Little, Cynthia, 1978. ‘Education, Philanthropy, and Feminism: Components of Argentine Womanhood, 1860–1926’, in Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives, ed. Asunción Lavrin (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press), pp. 235-53. Google Scholar

Kreisel, Deanna K., 2013. ‘Demand and Desire in Dracula’, in Economic Women: Essays on Desire and Dispossession in Nineteenth-Century British Culture, ed. Lana L. Dalley and Jill Rappoport (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press), pp. 110-23. Google Scholar

Kristeva, Julia, 1982. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (New York: Columbia University Press). Google Scholar

Linton, Anne E., 2015. ‘Redeeming the Femme Fatale: Aesthetics and Religion in Théophile Gautier’s La morte amoureuse’, The French Review, 89.1: 145-56. Google Scholar

Longo, Stella M., 2007. ‘La prosa periodística de Alfonsina Storni por los derechos civiles de las mujeres: Alfonsina Storni y el campo intelectual’, in Mujeres que escriben en América Latina, ed. Sara Beatriz Guardia (Lima: CEMHAL), pp. 465-80. Google Scholar

Lugones, Leopoldo, 1963. Las primeras letras de Leopoldo Lugones: reproducción facsimilar de sus primeros trabajos. Facsimile edition. (Buenos Aires: Centurion). Google Scholar

Masiello, Francine, 1990. ‘Women, State, and Family in Latin American Literature of the 1920s’, in Women, Culture, and Politics in Latin America: Seminar on Feminism and Culture in Latin America (Berkeley: University of California Press), pp. 27-47. Google Scholar

Masiello, Francine, 1992. Between Civilization and Barbarism: Women, Nation, and Literary Culture in Modern Argentina (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press). Google Scholar

Molyneux, Maxine, 2001. Women's Movements in International Perspective: Latin America and Beyond (London: Palgrave). Google Scholar

Mora, Gabriela, 1997. ‘Decadencia y vampirismo en el modernismo hispanoamericano: un cuento de Clemente Palma’, Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, 23.46: 191-98. Google Scholar

Oviedo, José Miguel, 1989. ‘Leopoldo Lugones’, in Antología crítica del cuento hispanoamericano: del romanticism al criollismo (1830–1920) (Madrid: Alianza), pp. 337-42. Google Scholar

Pollack, Beth, 1988. ‘The Supernatural and the Occult as Literary Elements in Selected modernista Short Stories’, unpublished PhD Thesis, University of California Santa Barbara). Google Scholar

Robinson, William J., 1922. Married Life and Happiness: Or, Love and Comfort in Marriage (New York: Eugenics). Google Scholar

Rock, David, 1993. Authoritarian Argentina: The Nationalist Movement, Its History and Its Impact (Berkeley: University of California Press). Google Scholar

Rogers, Susan Leigh, 1993. ‘Vampire Vixens: The Female Undead and the Lacanian Symbolic Order in Tales by Gautier, James, and Le Fanu’, unpublished PhD Thesis, University of California Irvine, pp. 1-16. Google Scholar

Sánchez-Verdejo Pérez, Francisco, 2010. ‘El vampiro femenino de Poe: metáfora maldita de la femme fatale y ejemplificación edificante de la mujer sin sombra’, in Edgar Allan Poe (1809-2009): Doscientos años después, ed. Beatriz González Moreno and Rigal Aragón (Cuenca: University of Castilla–La Mancha), pp. 87-96. Google Scholar

Senf, Carol A., 1988. The Vampire in 19th Century English Literature (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press). Google Scholar

Sproles, Karen Z., 1990. ‘D. H. Lawrence and the Pre-Raphaelites: Love Among the Ruins’, The D. H. Lawrence Review, 22.3: 299-305. Google Scholar

Warwick, Alexandra, 1995. ‘Vampires and the Empire: Fears and Fictions of the 1890s’, in Cultural Politics at the fin de siècle, ed. Sally Ledger and Scott McCracken (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 202-20. Google Scholar

Artagaveytia, Martín, 2011. ‘Nota biográfica’, in Los cuentos de Leopoldo Lugones, ed. Martín Artagaveytia (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Díada S.R.L.), pp. 5-13. Google Scholar

Borges, Jorge Luis, 1955. Leopoldo Lugones (Buenos Aires: Troquel). Google Scholar

Braun, Heather, 2012. ‘From Sensation Novel to Vampire Tale: The Erotic Femme Fatale’, in The Rise and Fall of the Femme Fatale in British Literature, 1790–1910 by Heather L. Braun (Vancouver, BC: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), pp. 81-107. Google Scholar

Bronfen, Elisabeth, 1992. Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Google Scholar

Canedo, Alfredo, 1974. ‘Introducción’, in Aspectos del pensamiento político de Leopoldo Lugones (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Marcos), pp. 8-12. Google Scholar

Chaves, José Ricardo, 2008. ‘Romanticism, Occultism and the Fantastic Genre in Spain and Latin America’, in Romantic Prose Fiction, ed. Gerald Gillespie, Manfred Engel and Bernard Dieterle (Amsterdam: John Benjamins), pp. 622-42. Google Scholar

Dalley, Lana L., and Jill Rappoport, 2013. ‘Introducing Economic Women’, in Economic Women: Essays on Desire and Dispossession in Nineteenth-Century British Culture, ed. Lana L. Dalley and Jill Rappoport (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press), pp. 1-21. Google Scholar

Frost, Brian J., 1989. The Monster with a Thousand Faces: Guises of the Vampire in Myth and Literature (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press). Google Scholar

Jeffress Little, Cynthia, 1978. ‘Education, Philanthropy, and Feminism: Components of Argentine Womanhood, 1860–1926’, in Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives, ed. Asunción Lavrin (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press), pp. 235-53. Google Scholar

Kreisel, Deanna K., 2013. ‘Demand and Desire in Dracula’, in Economic Women: Essays on Desire and Dispossession in Nineteenth-Century British Culture, ed. Lana L. Dalley and Jill Rappoport (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press), pp. 110-23. Google Scholar

Kristeva, Julia, 1982. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (New York: Columbia University Press). Google Scholar

Linton, Anne E., 2015. ‘Redeeming the Femme Fatale: Aesthetics and Religion in Théophile Gautier’s La morte amoureuse’, The French Review, 89.1: 145-56. Google Scholar

Longo, Stella M., 2007. ‘La prosa periodística de Alfonsina Storni por los derechos civiles de las mujeres: Alfonsina Storni y el campo intelectual’, in Mujeres que escriben en América Latina, ed. Sara Beatriz Guardia (Lima: CEMHAL), pp. 465-80. Google Scholar

Lugones, Leopoldo, 1963. Las primeras letras de Leopoldo Lugones: reproducción facsimilar de sus primeros trabajos. Facsimile edition. (Buenos Aires: Centurion). Google Scholar

Masiello, Francine, 1990. ‘Women, State, and Family in Latin American Literature of the 1920s’, in Women, Culture, and Politics in Latin America: Seminar on Feminism and Culture in Latin America (Berkeley: University of California Press), pp. 27-47. Google Scholar

Masiello, Francine, 1992. Between Civilization and Barbarism: Women, Nation, and Literary Culture in Modern Argentina (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press). Google Scholar

Molyneux, Maxine, 2001. Women's Movements in International Perspective: Latin America and Beyond (London: Palgrave). Google Scholar

Mora, Gabriela, 1997. ‘Decadencia y vampirismo en el modernismo hispanoamericano: un cuento de Clemente Palma’, Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, 23.46: 191-98. Google Scholar

Oviedo, José Miguel, 1989. ‘Leopoldo Lugones’, in Antología crítica del cuento hispanoamericano: del romanticism al criollismo (1830–1920) (Madrid: Alianza), pp. 337-42. Google Scholar

Pollack, Beth, 1988. ‘The Supernatural and the Occult as Literary Elements in Selected modernista Short Stories’, unpublished PhD Thesis, University of California Santa Barbara). Google Scholar

Robinson, William J., 1922. Married Life and Happiness: Or, Love and Comfort in Marriage (New York: Eugenics). Google Scholar

Rock, David, 1993. Authoritarian Argentina: The Nationalist Movement, Its History and Its Impact (Berkeley: University of California Press). Google Scholar

Rogers, Susan Leigh, 1993. ‘Vampire Vixens: The Female Undead and the Lacanian Symbolic Order in Tales by Gautier, James, and Le Fanu’, unpublished PhD Thesis, University of California Irvine, pp. 1-16. Google Scholar

Sánchez-Verdejo Pérez, Francisco, 2010. ‘El vampiro femenino de Poe: metáfora maldita de la femme fatale y ejemplificación edificante de la mujer sin sombra’, in Edgar Allan Poe (1809-2009): Doscientos años después, ed. Beatriz González Moreno and Rigal Aragón (Cuenca: University of Castilla–La Mancha), pp. 87-96. Google Scholar

Senf, Carol A., 1988. The Vampire in 19th Century English Literature (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press). Google Scholar

Sproles, Karen Z., 1990. ‘D. H. Lawrence and the Pre-Raphaelites: Love Among the Ruins’, The D. H. Lawrence Review, 22.3: 299-305. Google Scholar

Warwick, Alexandra, 1995. ‘Vampires and the Empire: Fears and Fictions of the 1890s’, in Cultural Politics at the fin de siècle, ed. Sally Ledger and Scott McCracken (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 202-20. Google Scholar

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Devirgilis, Megan

Devirgilis, Megan