Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

World Languages

Major Professor

Pablo Brescia

Keywords

Bolívar, Caracas, Herrera Luque, Mantuano, Nueva novela histórica, Venezuela

Abstract

This thesis postulates the narrative of Venezuelan psychiatrist and novelist Francisco Herrera Luque as one that demystifies the official historical discourse of his nation.

Our argument is developed through a two-part analysis. First, we present and examine the author's characteristic method, one that he called "fabled history", and the way it deals with elements of Venezuela's historical past. Secondly, we analyze the way Herrera Luque, while crafting an undoubtedly historical narrative, also analyzes many elements of the Venezuelan idiosyncrasy and identity through the illustration of colonial life in the nation, in particular within the oligarchic social class known as mantuanos, a group of people who controlled the beating of the nation's young heart from its birth until its independence.

To support our idea, we have used the theories of French philosopher Roland Barthes as our main theoretical basis for the mystification-demystification argument, for it is our view that his theory about myth as a self-justifying discourse is very proximal to what we believe to be Herrera Luque's vision about the role that patriotic or official history has played in Venezuela. We have also relied on the works of Linda Hutcheon and Hayden White to bring up the relationship between literature and history, especially regarding the narrative element in historiography, an essential element in what has been called the "new historical novel", a genre that presents new narrative approaches to history.

Our work also presents several elements that show how Herrera Luque's work not only seeks continuity in a usually fragmented discourse, but also takes advantage of its literary condition to present some observations and analysis about Venezuelan collective identity. His attempt to narrate Venezuelan history from its beginnings until the first quarter of the 20th century has produced not only an irreverent look at the historical record, but also an effort to make sense out of a series of events whose disconnected condition has influenced the way that Venezuelans relate to their past.

Furthermore, we conclude that perhaps the strongest message of Herrera Luque's narrative is that because of this distortion of the past, Venezuela is unable to have a clear understanding of its present.

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