Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Culture in the tropics: Guillermo Cabrera Infante's theories of art and narrative
by Rodriguez Navas, Ana Belen, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2011, 217; 3480273
Abstract (Summary)

Culture in the Tropics articulates the theories of art and narrative that underpin and unify the vast and apparently disparate oeuvre of the Cuban exile writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante. His production, often considered simply iconoclastic or whimsical, in fact constitutes a rich meditation on the realities and possibilities of art and narrative in the Cuban, Caribbean and Latin American context. Cabrera Infante’s poetics spring not from mere stylistic experimentation, but rather from a deep connection to the artistic, social and political circumstances of his region and time. The result is a body of work that addresses the local while remaining carefully attuned to broader literary and artistic trends and practices.

Culture in the Tropics begins by outlining Cabrera Infante’s theory of art, which holds as its core the belief that all acts of creation, reading or artistic reception must be understood as a form of translation, necessarily both distorted and distorting. This establishes the conceptual groundwork for what follows and frames the exploration of the connections between Cabrera Infante’s aesthetic theories and those of Oscar Wilde and Jorge Luis Borges. Through this, Culture in the Tropics ultimately suggests a recalibration of some basic tenets of postcolonial theory.

The second chapter draws on postmodern poetics and Barthes’s thought on stereotyping and cliché to explore the use of art and culture in Cabrera Infante’s narrative worlds. Like Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quijote and James Joyce in Ulysses, Cabrera Infante seeks to interrogate both the role of the reader in creating a text’s meaning, and the role of art and cultural production in mediating lived experience.

Culture in the Tropics concludes with an examination of the centrality of gossip in Cabrera Infante’s texts. From there, and through a comparative reading of works by Rosario Ferré and Junot Díaz, the dissertation proposes a Hispanic Caribbean theory of gossip. Drawing on and significantly revising the pioneering work of Patricia Meyer Spacks on gossip in British literature, Culture in the Tropics presents the practice as central to the region’s literary output and explores its fraught role in its social, political and historical life.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wood, Michael
School: Princeton University
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Latin American literature, Caribbean literature
Keywords: Aesthetics, Cabrera Infante, Guillermo, Caribbean culture, Cuba, Narrative theory, Postcolonialism
Publication Number: 3480273
ISBN: 978-1-124-93957-5
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