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Chapter 17 - Literature and Revolution in Transition

An Aesthetics of Singularity

from Part IV - Aesthetics and Innovation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 January 2023

Amanda Holmes
Affiliation:
McGill University, Montréal
Par Kumaraswami
Affiliation:
University of Reading
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Summary

This essay focuses on Nellie Campobello and Juan Rulfo to study how the Mexican Revolution by midcentury produced a singular aesthetic form in the guise of the unique short story or narrative sketch. This process involves a violent segmentation of the common, together with a no less forceful production of the singular. While Campobello and Rulfo tap into the resources of collective storytelling, they subject these oral materials to a process of aestheticization whose fundamental values lay in an image of self-standing beauty, or singularity, rather than community. Literature, even when its topic is the aftermath of the revolution, thus seems to run counter to the latter's ideals of collectivization. The chain of oral storytellers is typically interrupted with the appropriation of orality on behalf of an individual author with a unique signature. Based on the examples of Campobello and Rulfo, we might even ask whether there ever was such a thing as a novel of the Mexican revolution to begin with: not only because their sketches and short stories hardly can be considered novels but also because theirs amounts to a narrative of the counter-revolution.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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References

Works Cited

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