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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teoría psicoanalítica y estética neobarroca : De donde son los cantantes de Severo Sarduy Fernández, Hilda


The objective of this thesis is to analyze the novel De donde son los cantantes (1967) by the Cuban writer Severo Sarduy (1937-1993) through the lens of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. This novel challenges its own significance by virtue of its complex structure and linguistic proliferation, displaying a superposition of multiple voices, discourses and possibilities of interpretation. The novel's aesthetics, based on the formal procedures of artificialization, parody and simulation, are measured against its major theoretical influences, namely the psychoanalytical theory of Jacques Lacan. Coming from a clinical psychoanalytic background, the present work arises from the interest to reveal a suitable methodology for accessing Sarduy's text from the psychoanalytical perspective. In order to strengthen and highlight the relationship between psychoanalysis and literature, we chose to approach the novel by applying Sarduy's own theoretical production, on Baroque and Neo-baroque aesthetic. This provided the underlying methodology for analyzing the novel and decoding its ciphered aesthetic. The latter produced access to certain coding elements of the novel's aesthetic, such as the intratextual (syntagmatic grammas) and intertextual elements (the poem Salamandra by Octavio Paz) not previously acknowledged by the critics. Further, an additional interpretation of the novel was explored: the notion of the pleasure of the text (an element addressed, but not comprehensively analyzed, by the critics). De donde son los cantantes poses the question of "Cubanity", which Sarduy answers by reasserting the importance of Lacan's notion of the subject. In this thesis, the central concept of Lacanian theory, "the subject of the unconscious structured like a language", present throughout the whole novel, is divided into four categories: 1) the subject of the unconscious is constituted by language; 2) the subject doesn't know itself; 3) the subject possesses an structural lack; 4) the subject desires a lost object. We conclude that the novel's question is responded by the author in his very act of writing, at a level of the singular, with a celebration of language and humor. Through his particular aesthetic, Sarduy considers the writing as a useless act, made for pleasure and for parody, which subverts the hegemony of sense and underestimates literature as a transitive and communicative act of writing.

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