The role of history in the recent Mexican novel: a study of five historical novels by Elena Garro, Carlos Fuentes, Fernando del Paso, Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Rosa Beltran
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This thesis sets out to investigate the development of the recent historical novel in Mexico by examining a corpus of five novels. Elena Garro’s 'Los recuerdos del porvenir' (1963) represents the final point of the novel of the Revolution and it is the link with the recent historical novel. Carlos Fuentes’ 'Terra Nostra' (1975) and Fernando del Paso’s 'Noticias del Imperio' (1978) belong to the group containing the postmodern historical novel. 'Terra Nostra' summarizes all the concerns of postmodernism and can be considered as a paradigm of this current of thought. 'Noticias del Imperio' seeks a reconciliation between history and literature in an attempt to get closer to the historical truth. Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s 'La lejanía del Tesoro' (1992) is a representative novel in the way it melds history with the mystery novel, developing the genre of the historical thriller. Lastly, Rosa Beltrán’s 'La corte de los ilusos' (1995), and in particular its treatment of history is pertinent to this thesis due to the fact that women have been traditionally silenced by official history. This novel gives them a voice. From its beginnings, the historical novel confronted the problem of being questioned for its lack of accuracy when dealing with the past. This skepticism sparked a long lasting debate that initially degraded the historical novel as secondary genre that could never contribute to historical knowledge. However, as a result of recent theories that seek to defend the poetic nature of history, a theory developed initially by Hayden White, the recent historical novel has sought to debunk historiography’s claim to be the only possible way to recount the past. This thesis advances the theory that the recent historical novel in Mexico is the result of a search for a genuine identity, as well as a quest to develop an alternative, yet truthful, interpretation of a past whose true nature has been distorted by decades of historical officialdom. This process is seen in a context of increasing democratisation and globalisation.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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