Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Jorge de Sena's 'Mar de Pedras': Fictive Biography as Self-expression

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (1991), 68, (3), 395


BHS, LXVIII (1991) Jorge de Sena's 'Mar de Pedras': Fictive Biography as Self-expression FRANCISCO COTA FAGUNDES University of Massachusetts, Amherst Biographical and autobiographical impulses inform and shape much of jorge de Sena's poetry and fiction. Nowhere in Sena's short fiction, however, do the biographical and autobiographical urges coalesce more subtly and more effectively than in the short story 'Mar de Pedras', admittedly one of the author's favourite fictional works. I call those stories primarily inspired by the lives, works and thoughts of identified historical figures fictive biography, in contradistinction to the stories which may be inspired by aspects of the lives of factual personages but were not identified by Sena as such.! To be sure, fictive biography is strictly fiction; however, in the case of 'Mar de Pedras', Sena incorporates enough elements of the 'true' life-of the Venerable Bede, in this case-to warrant the designation 'biography'. Indeed, the story's deep meaning unfurls for the reader only when the 'true' Bede is compared and contrasted to the Bede Sena depicts. In other words, what in 'Mar de Pedras' deviates from the Bede to which we are accustomed through objective biography and scholarship, is precisely what leads the reader to the question: how much of the story does in fact constitute an expression of some aspects of Sena's own personality and ideals? That jorge de Sena is a largely subjective writer-one 'who aims at displaying his personality, wants to draw a self-portrait, to confess, to express himself' (from Rene Wellek and Austin Warren's definition of a 'subjective poet'2)-hardly bears emphasizing or repeating. Yet, so many years after Russian Formalism and American New Criticism and in the midst of semiotics and post-structuralism, it is with some hesitancy that one dares to approach a literary text, even one by jorge de Sena, genetically. Within the genetic, the concept of art as self-expression has been viewed as particularly suspect. Wellek and Warren, for example, express their opposition to it quite bluntly: 'The whole view that art is self-expression pure and simple, the transcript of personal feelings and experiences, is demonstrably false' (78). The authors of Theory of Literature go on to explain one of the reasons for their stance: 'The biographical approach', they write, 'ignores also quite simple psychological facts. A work of art may rather embody the "dream" of an author than his aetuallife, or it may be the "mask", the "anti-life" behind which his real person is hiding, or it may be a picture of the life from which the author wants to escape'. But even Wellek and Warren concede that, if used with care and restraint, a biographical consideration of a work may yield viable and useful information: 'there are connecting links, parallelisms, oblique resemblances, topsy-turvy mirrors. The poet's work may be a mask, a dramatized conventionalization, but it 395 Copyright (c) 2004 ProQuest Information and Learning Company Copyright (c) Liverpool University Press

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