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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The evolution of Eduardo Mallea’s spiritual world Hammerly, Ethel Rosita Pidoux


This study has focused mainly on the fiction of the Argentine writer Eduardo Mallea, but the totality of his work has been examined chronologically to have a complete view of the progression of his thought. This study shows (1) that Mallea's preference for the inner states of man has resulted in the creation of a special atmosphere which is here referred to as a "spiritual world" and (2) that in such a spiritual world there have been at least three stages of development. Different emphases in the interrelation of theme, tone and style serve as the basis for studying the evolution of Mallea's fiction, which can be attributed to the process of maturation of the writer as well as to his adaptive reactions to a changing environment. After an introductory biographical chapter, a rationale is offered in Chapter II for the division of his works into three cycles, attempting to justify the use of the term and also pointing out possible methodological problems. In subsequent chapters each cycle is discussed in detail considering some representative works. Thus, Chapter III presents Mallea's first cycle (to 1926), his literary initiation, and search for beauty. The second cycle (covering roughly to 1945/50) is presented in Chapters IV and V. Mallea's new commitment and vision are discussed from a series of essays where his ideology becomes defined. Some of the sources related to his ideology are considered by exploring similarities with writers of the Generation of 1898 and with Stoics. In Chapter V the author's fiction of the second cycle is analyzed. After having traced the nucleus of his ideology in Chapter IV, one can see how his ideology becomes part of his fiction world. His national idealism is also discussed as a prevalent characteristic of this cycle. The third cycle (to the present) is presented in Chapter VI. The more universal character of Mallea's themes is pointed out, and his special position with regard to existentialism is also discussed. In addition to having demonstrated the existence of a spiritual world, composed of emotional, intellectual and moral elements, the division into cycles seems justified in view of the changes in emphasis that have taken place. Thus, one can conclude that Mallea's themes have a definite progression with an increase in variety and depth. The focus changes from the particular to the general, as it shifts from (1) the inner state of the individual in his youth, to (2) the individual's identity within the collective national character, to (3) the inner states and struggles of men everywhere. A progression can also be seen from the inconsequentially light, to the serious aspects of a meaningful life, and to the tragic implications faced daily in incomprehensible situations. In terms of tone, change is seen from (1) a light, frivolous attitude, with some humor often mixed with melancholy, to (2) a serious, passionate, idealistic and committed attitude where a sense of responsibility to his society is present, to (3) a less vehement tone, closer to man's tragic conflicts and reality. Mallea's position toward literature affects his style, the change being more evident between the first cycle (art for art's sake) and subsequent ones (literature as a means to elevate man). Within the latter position, his style changes from an intellectually involved and wordy rhetoric (which is directly related to his passionate, idealistic stand and Involves the innovative novelistic technique of "narrar definiendo") to a more controlled and balanced style, more concise and detached. The use of the Thomist technique of "narrar definiendo" gives Mallea's writings a characteristic form, somewhat unorthodox for the novel, but which allows him to deal with all aspects of man and bring a new balance between man's overt and covert activities. The use of this technique seems to be greatly responsible for Mallea's success in the creation of a spiritual world.

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