Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Against Borges: Mapping the Feminine in Estela Canto

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2006), 83, (6), 541–561.

Abstract

The six novels by Estela Canto studied here provide a chronological view of her representation of feminine subjectivity, starting from her successful 1945 debut into Argentina's literary world (her first novel won Buenos Aires's Municipal Prize for fiction that year) to the 1970s. Canto's works all organize around a crime, but evolve from a focus on psychological intrigue to a broader interest in social and political tension. The word 'mapping' in the title alludes to a double effort to locate: first, to situate Canto in the mid-twentieth century struggle by women writers to reinvent stereotyped projections of the feminine inherited from the past; second, to analyse Canto's own production of both imaginary and historically known spaces as a mechanism for defining masculine and feminine difference in her culture, and ultimately to name these oppressive definitions as the locus of oppression itself.

Este análisis de la sujetividad femenina en seis novelas de Estela Canto se organiza de modo cronológico empezando con el exitoso estreno de la autora en el mundo literario en 1945 (año en que su primera novela gana el Premio Municipal de Buenos Aires) hasta los años 1970. Las novelas aquí estudiadas se estructuran por medio de un crimen, con un interés inicial en la compleja motivación individual de los personajes. Con cada novela se puede observar mayor enfoque en las tensiones sociales y políticas que operan en sus mundos ficticios. La referencia cartográfica del título se emplea con doble sentido: es una metáfora del intento de situar a Canto misma en el esfuerzo general de las escritoras del siglo XX por romper con imágenes estereotipadas de todo lo femenino heredadas de la tradición literaria; también señala un interés de estas ficciones, en definir las tensiones entre lo masculino y lo femenino como función de espacios imaginados y a veces conocidos con el fin de identificar las mismas definiciones opresivas como causa de la opresión.

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Author details

Klingenberg, Patricia