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The Feminine (Ob)scene of Cruelty: On the Fantastic, its Genealogy and Margins

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Abstract:

This article starts out with a panoramic exposition of Latin American fantastic literature, arguing that the fantastic mode has become mainstream rather than a marginalized exception. However, something important is missing from the canonized program for the fantastic, namely a sensation of the fantastic object as well as of the desire that accompanies the dreams or fantasies that give reality its coherence. This article argues that authors like Alejandra Pizarnik and Silvina Ocampo represent a “real” response to the canon of artful metaphysical fictionalizations: an excessive enjoyment that cannot be accounted for in terms of the symbolic but approaches the Lacanian realm of the Real. It is often maintained that the subversive potential of fantastic literature resides in its interrogation of the (unconscious) limits between the real and the unreal that define the social, symbolic order. Yet the fascination of the “feminine (ob)scene of cruelty” resides in what exceeds symbolization, what is left after the categorical operations of culture have been performed, and never ceases to exert a horrifying fascination from beyond the frontiers of socially accepted values.

Keywords: Alejandra Pizarnik; Latin American literature; Silvina Ocampo; fantastic literature; modernismo; psychoanalysis

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0730.2008.00941.x

Affiliations: University of Bergen

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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