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Title: Narrative structure and allegories of the Venezuelan nation in three novels by Rómulo Gallegos
Author: Lehtinen, Jenni M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 1037 4540
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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Building on Romulo Gallegos's self-declared concern for the fate of his country, this thesis suggests that his novels should be read primarily as allegories of the Venezuelan nation. Unlike existing criticism on socio-political aspects of Gallegos's novels, the present study focuses on previously neglected ideological and structural developments in Gallegos's later novels, Canaima (1935), Pobre negro (1937), and Sobre la misma tierra (1943). I argue that Gallegos's disillusionment with his previously idealistic vision of the Venezuelan nation, and his consequent abandonment of the relatively uncomplicated interpretation of progress, is mirrored by the increasingly complex manipulations of structural and temporal aspects of his novels. I also pay specific attention to the fact that Gallegos's non-fiction of the 1930s and 1940s registers corresponding shifts in his socio-political thought. Throughout the thesis, I tie close readings of the selected novels to discussions of the social, historical, and political contexts in which they were composed. In exploring the central role that allegory plays in Gallegos's novels, I elaborate on Doris Sommer's ideas concerning the representative and organizational power of heterosexual, interracial love. Even though Canaima, Pobre negro, and Sobre la misma tierra are particularly susceptible to a reading based on the notion of national romance, they concurrently reveal increasing challenges to, and crevices in, the framework furnished by heterosexual love. These novels thus critique the schematic socio-political solution based on mestizaje which this framework has come to promote. Furthermore, Gallegos's later Venezuelan novels also record the collapse of the patriarchal family structure, which is held up in his early novels such as Doiia Bdrbara (1929) as a model for the wider nation-family. In addition to Sommer's paradigm of heterosexual romance, I draw on Bakhtin's and Kermode's ideas on the representative function of narrative structure and time when I analyze the formal properties of the chosen novels. The more specific features of narrative paradigms, delineated by these theoreticians help to illuminate the experimental impulses that complicate and sometimes even contravene the traditional framework of heterosexual romance in Gallegos's novels. I conclude that Gallegos, over the course of these novels, ultimately formulates a more complex and realistic socio-political agenda which does not overlook the difficulties posed by Venezuela's racial, cultural, and regional diversity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available