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Title: Counter-hegemonic poetics in the work of Isabel Allende
Author: Gaynor, Timothy
ISNI:       0000 0001 3492 7996
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 1996
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Isabel Allende is one of the most widely read writers from Latin America this century. Her work has been translated into 26 languages and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Her success has been, however, somehow double-edged. Serious academic scholarship has tended to shun Allende on the grounds that her work is little more than a form of best-selling literary pastiche that panders to the bourgeois values of the mass market. While ambiguous in her use of the paradigms of mass culture, I argue that Allende's work should yet be read with shared reference to a Latin American tradition of politically committed literature. It is in advancing this adverse argument that I seek to make an original contribution to literary study. In the first chapter of the thesis I seek to develop a strategy for reading Allende's work that takes into account the multiple contexts upon which it draws. The second chapter suggests the continuities between Allende's work and the tradition of the political novel in Latin America, suggesting an often ignored network of affiliations to popular causes and popular aesthetics within her oeuvre. Contrary to a somewhat repressive post-colonial orthodoxy, the third chapter seeks to place Allende's use of magical realist technique in relation to the Brechtian technique of alienation, an influence resolutely at odds with the hegemonic values of bestselling fiction. The argument that Allende's fiction makes use of Marxist insight and argumentwhich I term "counter-hegemonic poetics" - is sustained in chapters four and five. These chapters explore Allende's critique of the hegemOnic narratives of bourgeois historiography and subjectivity respectively. The concluding chapter seeks to examine the arguments of Allende's detractors. It traces a submerged strand of conservative thought that shadows Allende's ostensibly radical project from her first novel to the efflorescence of petit-bourgeois values in her latest work. It seeks to question Allende's commitment to the radical project outlined, and to determine the efficacy of such a project within the recherche form of the best-selling literary novel.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Literature