Date of Award

8-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Modern Foreign Languages

Major Professor

Michael Handelsman

Committee Members

Oscar Rivera-Rodas, Luis Cano, Euridice Silva, Todd Diacon

Abstract

Recent history has been the central theme of Argentinean writer Tomas Eloy Martinez. In his two most recognized novels, La novela de Peron (1985) and Santa Evita (1995), he revisits the Peronist period in Argentinean history and attempts to re-write and re-signify traditional accounts of that history while presenting what he hopes is a more balanced interpretation of the Perons and their place in the nation's history.

The present dissertation analyses how Martinez uses numerous postmodern narrative strategies such as metafiction, parody, and intertextuality to carry out his revisionist project in the above-mentioned novels. As a point of departure, the dissertation examines the author's critical attitude towards historiography and his skepticism on how history has been represented in his country. Secondly, it studies the transgression of boundaries among literary genres which helps the author represent the Perons in a multifaceted and eclectic way. Through metafiction, the author shares the challenges he faces in the construction of his work, helps the reader follow the storyline, and present information that comes from the non-fictional world.

This dissertation also explains how Martinez uses parody in La novela de Peron to deconstruct the idealized version of hi story represented in Peron's Las memorias del General. Of special note is the fact that intertextuality is the most used technique in both novels; indeed, Martinez enters in dialogue with a wide variety of literary sources to support his views on historiography and to bring into question the traditional portrayal of both Peron and Evita in Argentina and in Latin American history.

This dissertation concludes that Martinez's two works with the current of postmodern novels which Linda Hutcheon has described as "Historiographic Metafiction." That is to say, both novels are intensely self-reflexive and treat historiography as closely-related genres. In fact, Martinez's novels are presented as an alternative to historical accounts of the past. For Martinez, through imagination one can speculate about what might have happened in those mysteries left unexplained by official history and the passing of time. With the diverse array of evidence presented in the novels, the reader is challenged to reevaluate the Perons legacy, a legacy which according to our reading of Martinez can be summarized in two words: authoritarianism and corruption.

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