Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

World Languages

Major Professor

Madeline Cámara

Keywords

Cuba, neobarroco, Lezama Lima, novela neobarroca, Paradiso

Abstract

In this thesis I argue that José Lezama Lima's Paradiso is unique among Latin-American novels of the 1960s because it is a hybrid of literary genres - narrative and essay, as well as a "poetic system." Through an open literary framework, the author explores the essence of "cubanía" though language that is both colloquial and elaborate, both devoted to traditions and aiming for transgressions: a novel that reaches for the pinnacle of neobaroque prose. To sustain my argument, I have performed an exhaustive exegesis of my primary text, as well as extensive external research in secondary texts of the highest canonical reputation, about the baroque and the neobaroque including the works of Eugene D'Ors, Mariano Picón Salas, Severo Sarduy, Guillermo Sucre, Irlemar Chiampi, and the novel in discussion so well examined by Iván González Cruz, Julio Cortázar, and the sister of the author, Eloísa Lezama Lima, among others.

I have considered broadly the features and peculiarities that cause Paradiso to excel as a novel, always keeping in mind Lezama Lima's distinctiveness as a writer of ironies implicit in the discourse of Latin-American otherness. In Paradiso, this discourse of copy and model, as well as of revenge on the dominant metropolitan center--all within the surroundings of a paradoxical challenge to European baroque patterns--takes root by means of a seldom-expressed and playful hybridism unparalleled in twentieth-century Spanish literature.

My argument operates from the broad to the specific, first by defining and explaining, sometimes in dissenting terms, the baroque, its historical evolution and Spanish roots, its arrival in Spanish America, its new identity when synthesized with native traditions there, and its neo-baroque profile in the twentieth century. Finally we arrive at a meeting with "el Señor Barroco", Lezama Lima, himself, as he promenades the paved streets of old Havana under a gigantic, colorful parasol, buffeted by a dancing, tropical breeze, and holding in one hand a volume of Paradiso. He walks absentmindedly until he reaches the esplanade of the malecón. There, he puts aside his book, asks us to approach him, and then confesses to us the impetus of his lifelong obsession to lay the foundation of a poetic system of the universe in Paradiso.

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