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Homotextuality in the writing of Álvaro Pombo : a phenomenological perspective on existential dissonance and authentic being Fajardo, Frederick John-Maria


In this study I examine the literary and philosophical engagement with homosexuality (“homotextuality”) of the Spanish writer Álvaro Pombo (1939). Pombo spent eleven years in exile in England from Franco’s National-Catholic Spain, and he returned to his homeland at the dawn of its transition to democracy in 1976. Pombo’s literary efforts coincide with a re-emergence of Spanish homotextual writing (Goytisolo, Moix, Cardín, de Biedma, et al.) before and during the Transición. Although homosexuality as a central leitmotif encompasses all phases of his prodigious literary output, Pombo’s homotextuality has been, with few notable exceptions, dismissed by gay critics as self-loathing and homophobic, and has been all but ignored by mainstream critics. This omission, I argue, owes to a fundamental misreading of Pombo’s dialectical and philosophical approach to homotextuality. In my analysis I show that Pombo’s opulent, eclectic writing style emerges as an interrogational dialectic that deconstructs the nature of the existential alienation that has perennially shaped the lives of homosexuals living within the preponderant domain of heterosexuality (“heteronormativity”). Pombo’s dialectic is in trenchant engagement with a historical epistemological discursivity (and literary tradition) that essentializes homosexuality as a perversion of the “natural, truthful order” (what I call “heterologocentrism”). Using the deconstructive methodology of queer theory (Edelman, Butler, Llamas, Dollimore, Hocquenghem, et al.) and the philosophical frameworks of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Taylor, among others, I demonstrate that Pombo’s homotextual narrative radically challenges and unsettles heterologocentric discursivity related to “unnatural” homosexual Being (or homosexualisms in all their manifestations). At the same time, I show that Pombo’s dialectic characterizes as “inauthentic” what he perceives to be the frivolous, hedonistic (Dionysian) behaviours of homosexual solipsism. Furthermore, I argue that Pombo’s dialectic forcefully prescribes an authenticity of Being, which confronts the fear and degradation of the homosexual’s historical situatedness and impels the subject to engage truthfully, ethically, morally, and without prevarication or dissemblance with the subjective Other. Pombo’s narrative concerning authentic Being compels the subject to “overcome” the shackles of oppression inherent in the situatedness of a denaturalizing morality and alterity and “to be who one is,” as Nietzsche says, while simultaneously rejecting inward-turning nihilism.

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