Spaces of Madness

Spaces of Madness : Insane Asylums in Argentine Narrative

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Spaces of Madness examines the role of the insane asylum in Argentine prose works published between 1889 and 2011. From a place of existential exile at the turn of the twentieth century to a symbolic representation of Argentine society during and immediately subsequent to the Dirty War, the figure of the asylum in Argentine literature has evolved along with the institution itself. The authors studied in Spaces of Madness include Manuel T. Podesta, Roberto Arlt, Leopoldo Marechal, Julio Cortazar, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Juan Jose Saer, Abelardo Castillo, Ricardo Piglia, and Luisa Valenzuela.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 230 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 22.86mm | 476.27g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739190865
  • 9780739190869

Review quote

Rojas explores the function of medical madness, as a theme, in some Argentine prose works published between 1889 and 2011. She engages with Manuel T. Podesta, Roberto Artl, Leopoldo Marechal, Julio Cortazar, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Juan Jose Saer, Aberlardo Castillo, Ricardo Piglia, and Luisa Valenzuela to dislocate reason, sanity, and rationality in opposition to madness as an artistic metaphor of resistance to oppressive military dictatorships. Even though the study covers more than a century, it focuses on works dealing with Argentina's Dirty War-also known as Process of National Reorganization, the name used by the Argentine military government for a period of state terrorism from roughly 1974 to 1983. Building on Foucault and Derrida, Rojas looks at concepts of heterotopia, cure, and poison in studying how insanity functioned within Argentine society and literature. In addition, using as a model the Borda Hospital, the oldest and most important national psychiatric institute (which is located Buenos Aires), the book examines psychiatric hospitals and asylums and depicts them as alternative spaces of resistance against pseudo rational forces of violence and repression. Of particular value to those interested in Argentine prose. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. CHOICE Concepts of madness constitute an ideological cluster of Argentine cultural production, and the Hospital Borda, the national psychiatric institute, is as much of an icon of Argentine society as the tango. Rojas' study is the first attempt, thorough and intelligent, to explain how this is so. -- David William Foster, Arizona State University Against a background of historical change in the nature of the Argentine mental asylum from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century, Rojas provides a brilliant study of the portrayal of asylums in Argentine narrative. Covering a range of authors, she shows the evolution of attempts to uncover and deconstruct the idea of 'madness' and, crucially, to use the creative imagination to expose the cruelty often underlying the notion of reason. This is essential reading on the treatment of madness and irrationality in Argentina and on the development of modern Argentine literature. -- Philip Swanson, University of Sheffield Rojas uses the theme of madness in a way which goes beyond absurdism, in order to express Argentine writers' hostility to what she calls "the harsh reality of rationality." Her investigation of the theme turns out to be surprisingly rich, emerging in a wide range of major authors. Spaces of Madness: Insane Asylums in Argentine Narrative brings a new level of sophistication to criticism of recent Argentine fiction. -- Donald Shaw, University of Virginia
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About Eunice Rojas

Eunice Rojas is an assistant professor of Spanish at Lynchburg College.
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Table of contents

Table of Contents Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter 1: Early Asylums: Manuel Podesta, Horacio Quiroga, and Roberto Arlt Chapter 2: The Asylum in the Works of Julio Cortazar and Adolfo Bioy Casares Chapter 3: The Schizophrenic Machine in Ricardo Piglia's Asylum Chapter 4: Luisa Valenzuela's Passage through the Asylum Chapter 5: Juan Jose Saer's Committed Detective Chapter 6: The Asylum as Juan Jose Saer's Argentine Founding Myth Chapter 7: The Poet as Patient: The Literary Life of Jacobo Fijman Conclusion Works Cited About the Author
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