Childhood in the works of Silvina Ocampo and Alejandra Pizarnik
This thesis explores childhood as theme and perspective in the Argentine cuentista and poet Silvina Ocampo (1903-1993) and traces this thematic and vital link to the Argentine poet Alejandra Pizamik (1936-1972). The study looks at childhood not only in relation to their literary texts but also in the writers' construction of self-identity within their socio-literary context, and at the role played by visual art in their aesthetic. Chapter 1 contrasts Silvina with her elder sister Victoria Ocampo through their differing literary appropriation of a shared childhood. It distinguishes Ocampo from Adolfo Bioy Casares and Jorge Luis Borges in terms of her fictional logic and her treatment of games, drawing comparisons instead with Julio Cortdzar. Chapter 2 undertakes close reading of various Ocampo texts, including some for children, in order to explore her vision of childhood through nostalgia, adult-child power relationships, aging and rejuvenation, and moments of initiation or imitation. Chapter 3 turns to Pizarnik and the myth of the child-poet. It analyses her child personae through Andre Breton's Surrealism, Jean Cocteau and Octavio Paz, through her borrowings from Alice in Wonderland and Nadja, and through her obsession with madness, death, orphanhood, violation and transgression. Chapter 4 is comparative. It outlines the context in which Ocampo and Pizamik's passionate friendship developed, and considers Pizamik's essay on Elpecado mortal. It then explores their broad mutual literary and thematic affinities. My conclusion is that Ocampo's works achieve equilibrium between childhood and age, whereas Pizarnik's much-discussed poetic crisis of exile from language itself parallels her deep sense of anxiety at being exiled from the world of childhood. This thesis contributes to the study of Argentine literature by drawing revealing comparisons between two key writers through their shared obsession with childhood, arguing that an understanding of their attitudes to childhood is fundamental to appreciating fully their work. I refer to unpublished letters of Ocampo, material from private interviews, photographs and relevant paintings by Leonor Fini, Alicia Carletti and others.