Journal of Romance Studies

The grammar of fate in Lorca’s Bodas de sangre

Journal of Romance Studies (2003), 3, (2), 49–68.

Abstract

Though tragic fate is traditionally taken as an emblem of what is inevitable and given, here I argue that Lorca’s tragedy Bodas de sangre at once re-enacts and disturbs fate’s inevitability. While the characters lament being controlled by destiny, they simultaneously construct their own destiny in their use of language. The revelation of fate’s fictionality is important for the present, because the modern philosophical versions of subjectivity that still define us today are predominantly tragic. Since the rational subject of law that enables liberal democratic politics emerges from tragic conditions, what would we gain by becoming aware that essentialized constructs such as destiny are not given but created? Would this realization free subjective agency from the constraints from which it emerges? What is the status of ‘necessary fictions’ such as destiny, the subject or the law, fictions that are created but we cannot easily renounce, because they constitute what we are?

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Beistegui, Miguel de and Simon Sparks (eds) (2000) Philosophy and Tragedy (London: Routledge). Philosophy and Tragedy Google Scholar

Benveniste, Émile (1971) Problems in General Linguistics (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press). Problems in General Linguistics Google Scholar

Butler, Judith (1997) The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (Stanford: Stanford University Press). The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection Google Scholar

Eagleton, Terry (2003) Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic (Oxford: Blackwell). Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic Google Scholar

Elam, Keir (1990) The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama (London and New York: Methuen). The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama Google Scholar

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Racine, Jean (1995) Phèdre (Paris: Gallimard). Phèdre Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul (1969) The Symbolism of Evil, trans. Emerson Buchanan (Boston: Beacon Press). The Symbolism of Evil Google Scholar

Sloterdijk, Peter (1987) Critique of Cynical Reason, trans. Michael Eldred, foreword Andreas Huyssen (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press). Critique of Cynical Reason Google Scholar

Sontag, Susan (1986) [1966] ‘The death of tragedy’, in Against Interpretation (New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday). The death of tragedy Against Interpretation Google Scholar

Steiner, George (1980) [1961] The Death of Tragedy (Oxford: Oxford University Press). The Death of Tragedy Google Scholar

Strauss, Jonathan (1998) Subjects of Terror: Nerval, Hegel and the Modern Self (Stanford: Stanford University Press). Subjects of Terror: Nerval, Hegel and the Modern Self Google Scholar

Strauss, Jonathan (ed.) (2000) ‘Post-mortem: the state of death as a modern construct’, Diacritics 30.3 (Fall). Post-mortem: the state of death as a modern construct Diacritics 30.3 Google Scholar

Vernant, Jean-Pierre and Pierre Vidal-Naquet (1988) Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece, trans. Janet Lloyd (New York: Zone Books). Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece Google Scholar

Williams, Raymond (1987) [1966] Modern Tragedy (Stanford: Stanford University Press). Modern Tragedy Google Scholar

Z̆iz̆ek, Slavoj (1989) Sublime Object of Ideology (London: Verso). Sublime Object of Ideology Google Scholar

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Basterra, Gabriela