Magical techniques and structuralism in Gonzalo Torrente Ballester's "La saga/fuga de J.B." /

Saved in:
Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Pukelis, Neringa, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (233 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
URL for this record:
Hidden Bibliographic Details
Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Mario Santana Committee members: Frederick De Armas; Miguel Martinez.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:The focus of this dissertation is the investigation of Hermetic and structural elements as they appear in Gonzalo Torrente Ballester's La saga/fuga de J.B. Torrente's novel, published in 1972, was the recipient of the Spanish literary awards, Premio de la Critica, and Premio de la Ciudad de Barcelona the same year. La saga/fuga is considered Torrente's master work, and is a novel whose substantial length is matched by the expansiveness of the narrator's encyclopedic memory. La saga/fuga is characterized by long running script that continues for hundreds of pages with very few breaks in the narrative that would allow for a comfortable spot for the reader to leave off. The effect of this textual element is that of dragging the reader into the momentum of Bastida's endless imaginings. This dissertation will look primarily at three mechanisms that can account for the marvelous transformations that we encounter in the body of the novel; magic memory art, the art of antique metamorphosis which comes down to us in the form of the grotesque, and 20th century structuralism.
Chapter I is devoted to examining the Hermetic tradition as it exists in La saga/fuga de J.B. The findings of this reading uphold the suggestion that Torrente's novel is a revival and renewal of the approach to the universe as governed by the logic of sympathies and resemblances. In La saga/fuga, Bastida, like a magus, manipulates threads of referentiality to produce refracted images, the appearance of which depends on the angle of the reader. This technique, along with overt references to Hermes, Osiris, and other gods and goddesses from antiquity, is part of a larger trend in both scholarship and popular culture that Eliade refers to as the "occult boom" of the 1960's and 1970's. Torrente's image making belongs to the Hermetic tradition of sympathetic chains of resemblances that link the universe up from end to end; chains that can be selectively combined to alter images according to the needs of the image itself.
Chapter II focuses on the grotesque, and we see that Torrente's use of the grotesque in La saga/fuga is taken straight from the grottos of antiquity where metamorphic frescos display a universe of unexpected combinations; men with branches for arms, vines that transform into fish, and figures that are neither human or animal, but examples of the metamorphosis of one object into the next. In La saga/fuga, this grotesque cycle of life is realized in the interdependent relationship of the three powerful archetypal images that form the basis of the logic of the city of Castroforte; the "Illuminated Holy Relic," the "Castrofortino," and the "lampreys". The "Illuminated Holy Relic" is the patron saint of Castroforte worshiped by Castrofortino and lamprey alike. The economy of the Castrofortinos depends on the harvesting of the man eating lampreys that devour the bodies of the Castrofortinos that have been hurled into the river Mendo. When the Illuminated Holy Relic disappears, the lampreys disappear in pursuit, leaving the Castrofortinos in a state of chaos. In this grotesque cycle, we have the example of the transformation and renewal of the logic of life in Castroforte, and when one element is removed, the cycle fails. It is upon this backdrop of renewal and regeneration that we witness numerous transformations throughout the text, and Bastida's cosmic transmigration through the series of all of the J.B.s, who function as redeemers that eternally return to save Castroforte from obscurity. Chapter III addresses issues of Torrente's familiarization with the early theories of structuralism that were flourishing in pre-Soviet Russia which were primarily concerned with the behavior of the folkloric object as a motivator of both the plot and structure of folktales. In this chapter, similarities are drawn between Roman Jakobson's theory of the "birth" of the folkloric object and Torrente's development of the mythical cosmogony of Castroforte, the power of which is renewed with each new reiteration of the redeemer myth of the J.B.s.
In this dissertation, I have laid the foundation for further investigations of Hermetic and structuralist elements in La saga/fuga de J.B. The importance of this kind of work is directly related to the establishment of Torrente as a participant and contributor to the corpus of structuralist and post-structuralist literature and criticism of the 1960's and 1970's. This approach is one that has treated Torrente's novel, not as a result of 1960's French structuralism and post-structuralism, but as occurring simultaneously with the influential works of Foucault, Derrida, Barthes, and others. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).