Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Pablo Brescia, Ph.D.


Literature in revolution, Poststructuralism, Julio Cortázar, Guillermo Cabrera Infante


The purpose of the present study is to examine the theme of literature in Rayuela (Julio Cortázar, 1963) and Tres tristes tigres (Guillermo Cabrera Infante, 1967), taking into account the importance of this theme within the socio-historical and intellectual context of 1960's Latin America, an era characterized not only by the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in the political field, but also the height of poststructuralist literary theory, which arrives in Latin America via Europe. As we will see, the convergence of these two historical and literary moments implies the co-existence in Latin America of a call for a politicized literature that supports revolutionary efforts, and a crisis in terms of our ideas about language and its possibilities of representation with great implications for any critical debate regarding literature and its relation to extra-literary "reality".

We will first present an overview of the critical debates regarding the "role" of literature and its relationship with extra-literary "reality" in the context of revolutionary Latin America, focusing on specific criticism of Rayuela and Tres tristes tigres. We will see that in spite of the fact that some revolutionary criticism has accused these texts of nihilism and escapism due to their playful, open structures, a reconsideration of Rayuela and Tres tristes tigres in light of the Poststructuralist theories of Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes--which maintain that language does not "reflect" a pre-existing reality, but rather "signifies" or "creates" the "reality" that we perceive as real within the discourse of our society--demonstrates that the true ethical value of these texts resides in their challenge of the discursive violence that dominates in our extra-literary space, and their constant deconstruction and "re-writing" of "reality" in order to suggest new ways to see and live.

Subsequently, we will examine the use of literary parody in these texts to highlight the historicity of all language, and consider how these texts define literature as a vital, existential attitude: we should live as literature, treating our reality like a "text" that can constantly be deconstructed and re-written so that no lie can gain status as an irrefutable truth.