A literary profile of depictions of the physically blind with an emphasis on selected work by some outstanding Spanish and Spanish-American writers
Hunter, Robert A.
MetadataShow full item record
Historically, the physically blind have been represented very diversely in literature. These sightless figures are numerous, populating the literary spectrum with characterizations that are colorful and often entertaining. Legitimate or realistic portrayals of actual sightless people, however, are rare so that semblances of accurate representations are seldom considered in fictional literature. Because of the wide variance in the physically blind figures depicted by many different writers, images of the sightless differ greatly from one work to another and from one literary period to another. Countless roles of sightless images reflect marked contradictions in the ways that the blind are perceived. One pattern that remains fairly consistent is that physically blind characters appear in roles that are unflattering and that project inaccurate images as compared with "real" people who are actually blind. This dissertation provides an in-depth study of varied depictions of the physically blind presented in traditional Spanish literature of the past and the present. It considers historical literary periods and identifies and categorizes depictions of the sightless that prevail within these periods. It also discusses the implications and modifications of these sightless images as epochs evolve. The dissertation is divided into two parts. The first part presents a general overview of historical depictions of the sightless and surveys the major periods of world literature with regard to traditional depiction of the physically blind. It includes literature written in antiquity, the Middle Ages/Renaissance and periods spanning the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This survey discusses the more prevalent themes and motifs common to physically blind characters during each particular literary period. Part Two exclusively identifies and discusses the characterizations of the sightless as portrayed by Spanish and Spanish-American writers. Chapter IV deals with physically blind characters in Medieval and Renaissance Spanish literature. Chapter V discusses common themes in which the sightless are found during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Chapter VI concentrates on one particular Spanish writer, examining how and why Valle-Inclan makes sightless characters such an important aspect of his works.