Historical Metafiction and Moctezuma II in Llanto: Novelas Imposibles by Carmen Boullosa

By Iliana Underwood-Holbrook.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

According to theorist Linda Hutcheon, works of historiographic metafiction are “those well-known and popular novels which are both intensely self-reflexive and yet paradoxically also lay claim to historical events and personages.” The New Historical Novel in Mexico self-consciously draws attention to its status as a fabrication; this genre poses questions about the relationship between fiction and reality. It provides a critique of its own methods of construction, examining the fundamental structure of narrative fiction and also exploring the possible fictional character and the subjectivity of history itself. The Mexican author Carmen Boullosa discloses in her novel, Llanto, novelas imposibles, the problematic interpretation of the existing accounts of Mexican history regarding the conquest of Mexico and the death of Aztec emperor Moctezuma II. Llanto contributes to the contemporary debate about the controversies that surround history and the process of writing it. Boullosa’s novel oscillates between history and fiction, blurring the distinction between the objective and the subjective realms. It also explores and analyzes the traces in cultural memory that contribute to the representation of history in Mexico. The writers(s) of this novel—real and fictional—endeavor to do away with forces that have opposed a heterogeneous discourse in Mexican history.

Keywords: Historical Metafiction, New Historical Novel in Mexico, Carmen Boullosa, History, Philosophy, Literature

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 11, pp.273-282. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 610.176KB).

Dr. Iliana Underwood-Holbrook

Chair and Professor, The Department of Modern Languages, Cultures and Literatures, California State University, Hayward, East Bay, USA

Dr. Underwood-Holbrook served as Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at California State University, East Bay for the last six years (2004-2010). She is a professor of Latin American Literature and Culture and is affiliated with both Latin American Studies and International Studies at CSU, East Bay. Her publications and research orientations are varied: Mexican literature and culture, contemporary and colonial Latin American literature, the works of Octavio Paz, mythology, women authors, comparative literature, psycholinguistics, the New Historical Novel, and the philosophy of history. Dr. Underwood- Holbrook has lectured in Europe and also extensively in the United States and Mexico where she has presented numerous lectures and has collaborated on projects with multiple institutions and organizations: National Art Palace in Mexico City, University of Hidalgo in Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, El Colegio de México, Casa del Poeta, and the Museo Nacional de Antropología e Historia.

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