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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Por donde se sube al cielo (1882) : visión estética de la prostitución social y material de la mujer y el arte : una doble metáfora en la novela inédita de Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera Avilés-Galan, Miguel Ángel

Abstract

This thesis examines within the context of Mexican Porfiriato in the late nineteenth-century, the Modernismo's aesthetical representation of social modernization and artistic conditions in Mexico City, as feminized metaphors of prostitution, by studying an unknown and recently discovered novel Por donde se sube al cielo (1882) written by the Mexican author Manuel Gutierrez Najera (1859- 1895), and published for the first time in Mexico in 1994. Utilizing historical materialism and theoretical modes suggested by Francoise Perus, Angel Rama, Peter Burger, Jean Franco, Doris Sommer, and others, it is argued that Gutierrez Najera constructed in his text a double feminized metaphor of prostitution, on the one hand social and material, and on the other hand aesthetical and ethical (moral values). Consequently, Por donde se sube al cielo is analyzed from an ideological standpoint, as a novel with a clear stance for the institutionalization of art and claims for its autonomy. Complex nation-building processes are discussed as part of the historical backgrounds for Gutierrez Najera's novel, and the challenges faced by modernistas (modernist) writers in the late nineteen century are explored too. Chapter one provides a wide overview of the Modernismo literary criticism, and lays out the main perspectives by analyzing its theoretical and methodological proposals. Chapter two provides the specific literary criticism that has been made for Manuel Gutierrez Najera work -poetry, prose, news paper chronicles and literary criticism- and at the same time presents the theoretical considerations needed to understand Gutierrez Najera's connections to the emergent print press, the literary Modernismo cultural project and Najera's political and social ideas. Chapters one and two engage in a discussion of the larger debate about the modernista novel and the print press novel known as "folletines" (serial stories). In this view, the autonomy of art and the literature for the elites, proposed by Gutierrez Najera's agenda, collided with the Liberal and national narrative discourses for the masses of the Porfiristas. Chapter three focuses on the analysis of the text. It provides both the historical and literary background needed to contextualize Gutierrez Najera's life, literary production, and the construction of the social, legal and pseudo scientific discourse or positivist point of view for femininity during the Porfiriato, and how this discourses are reflected in Por donde se sube al cielo. Finally, this last chapter compares tete a tete the "folletin" structure, format, plot, theme, literary devices and many other features with Gutierrez Najera's text. Emphasis is giving to the depiction of the women known as comediantas (chorus line girls in the cabaret theatre) as social prostitutes and symbols of artistic degradation, in opposition to the traditional role of domesticity, by raising women within the Christian morals and prepared them for being socially acceptable and future mothers. This thesis concludes with a call for Manuel Gutierrez Najera's work to be reconsidered, and recognized for its contributions to the discourse of Modernismo and to the institutionalization and autonomy of art projects of the nineteen-century Mexican intellectuals.

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