Rewriting Trujillo, reconstructing a nation: Dominican history in novels by Marcio Veloz Maggiolo, Andrés L. Mateo, Viriato Sención, and Mario Vargas Llosa

2006 2006

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Abstract (summary)

Rafael Leonidas Trujillo's dictatorship over the Dominican Republic had a profound effect on the country's literary tradition. Between the years of 1930 and 1961, Trujillo carefully positioned himself at the center of all things Dominican---including the island's cultural and intellectual discourse. From the beginning of Trujillo's political career, the dictator's team of spin-doctors, carefully selected from among the Dominican intelligentsia systematically, exploited the media, poetry, prose narrative, and even popular music to construct a public persona that would eventually grow to mythological proportions.

Given the trujillato's notorious use of literature in mythologizing Trujillo, it is hardly surprising that, in the years immediately following his death, Dominican writers would also employ narrative in their efforts to de/re-mythologize him. The present study examines how four prominent novelists---Marcio Veloz Maggiolo, Andrés L. Mateo, Viriato Sención, and Mario Vargas Llosa---use literature to reexamine and rewrite Trujillo's 30-year rule over the Dominican Republic. These writers also typify the evolution of the Dominican novel over the last 40 years. Like other Latin American "dictator novels," the texts studied here---which include De abril en adelante (1975), La balada de Alfonsina Bairán (1985), Los que falsificaron la firma de Dios (1992) and La fiesta del chivo---call attention to both the hegemonic processes that empower and the rhetorical structures that help to shore up authoritarian rule. Building upon the ideas of Ross Chambers, René Girard, Roberto González Echevarría and others, this thesis examines how these writers' works attempt to create "room for maneuver" between the discourse of dictatorship and the dictatorship of narrative convention. My primary assertion is that the rhetorical "free space" created by oppositional texts, when inserted into the dictator's system of signification, creates the potential for readers' desires to be shifted away from the dictator and toward a dissenting (frequently the narrative) voice. While large-scale social change brought about via readers reading novels such as those studied here is unlikely, these works chip away at the dictator's power structure by targeting and changing his constituency one reader at a time.

Indexing (details)

Latin American literature;
Caribbean literature;
Latin American history
0312: Latin American literature
0360: Caribbean literature
0336: Latin American history
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Dominican Republic; Mateo, Andres L.; Novels; Peru; Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina; Sencion, Viriato; Trujillo Molina, Rafael Leonidas; Vargas Llosa, Mario; Veloz Maggiolo, Marcio
Rewriting Trujillo, reconstructing a nation: Dominican history in novels by Marcio Veloz Maggiolo, Andrés L. Mateo, Viriato Sención, and Mario Vargas Llosa
Wolff, Andrew B.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 67/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Gonzalez-Perez, Anibal
The Pennsylvania State University
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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