Contemporary Argentina in the fiction of North American writers
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This study focuses on three novels about contemporary Argentina that were written by three North American writers. It examines the ways that Douglas Unger's El Yangui (1986), Lawrence Thornton's Imagining Argentina (1987^. and Douglas Mine's Champions of the World (1988) interpret the sociopolitical problems of Argentina during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. These novels reveal a Latin American country torn by violence and confusion. The present study concentrates on the social, political and cultural characteristics of the era, and the setting, characters, images, metaphors, language, and other literary features used by the writers. It is the first critical study of these novels. Chapter n provides a background for these three novels by outlining the principal historical events in Argentina during the period of 1960-1989. Chapter HI is an analysis of El Yangui. a novel of initiation, and focuses on the technigue and characteristics of the Bildungsroman. The novel depicts Argentina through the eyes of an adolescent, "El Yangui," who visits Buenos Aires in 1969. Chapter IV is an analysis of Imagining Argentina, which presents a fictional account of the desaparecidos during the midseventies. It contains a discussion of the importance of the myth of Orpheus to the theme and structure of the novel. Chapter V treats Mine's Chan^pions of the World and examines the sociopolitical ambience of Argentina during 1978 and 1982. It presents the tragic life of the Maglione family and the World Cap Soccer Tournament as the two main actions of the narration. Chapters HI, FV, and V contain special sections that give profiles of the authors. Chapter VI compares and contrasts the writers' uses of setting, theme, methods of characterization, and other literary features. The last includes thejourney motif, various structural patterns, and Bakhtin's concept of the "carnival motif." Finally, the Appendices contain the author's interviews with the three writers. The study reveals that each novel gives an interesting, fictionalized account of Argentina during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The three novels contribute to literahire in three respects. First, they enrich the literature of the United States by using a foreign nation and its problems as their setting. This is particularly tme in Unger and Mine, who present Argentina for readers who may know little or nothing of this country. Second, the novels have specific literary strengths. Thomton's parallelism to the myth of the Orpheus, Unger's use of the Bildungsroman technigue, and Mine's treatment of the World Cup Soccer matches are creative means of presenting their respective stories. Third, Mine's and Unger's novels contribute to the literature of political experience. For Mine, there is no apparent hope for a reasonably just political order, his world view is pessimistic. Unger is more optimistic, representing the western humanist vision of gradual progress. Thornton approaches the problem fix)m a classically liberal perspective: individual liberty resisting the cormpt political system. Although none of the writers provides a sufficiently deep explanation for the political chaos of the kind found in Argentina, all are able to capture the anguish of people who live under the tyranny of brutal political system.