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Description de l’éditeur

THICK with tensions surrounding issues of sex and gender, both Jose Donoso's 1966 novel El lugar sin limites and Manuel Puig's 1976 novel El beso de la mujer arana have biologically male protagonists that identify themselves as "women," and create definitions of womanhood that would include them. Their struggle for acceptance in a society resistant to accepting them on their own terms reveals the stereotypes and assumptions linked to sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Both novels question traditional gender roles and "types," as the concepts of "feminine," "masculine," "man" and "woman" are all reconfigured in the light of marginalized characters' struggles to find a "place" in a society unwilling to accommodate them as part of the mainstream. El lugar sin limites is the story of la Manuela, a transgender prostitute in a decrepit town with little hope for the future. El beso de la mujer arana tells the story of two cellmates in prison for very different reasons--Valentin for revolutionary activity and Molina for seducing a minor. While some critics prefer the label of "homosexual" in their studies of these protagonists, I prefer the use of "transgender," as I feel it is more accurate in discussing characters who truly do identify more with women interested in pursuing relationships with men, rather than identifying themselves as men attracted to other men. This distinction is especially helpful when we consider that both characters use female pronouns and adjectives when describing themselves in relation to the men in their lives. The two novels also share other commonalities that facilitate a comparative consideration of their respective representations of sex and gender. Both works are products of the Latin American literary boom of the 1960s and 70s. Both novels have storylines that conclude with the death of the transgender protagonist and both reflect the social, political, and economic realities of the times, as well as a very present critique of the persecution of sexual behavior deviating from the societal norm. Lastly, these characters' identification with women is not with "typical" women but rather with extraordinary women, extremely feminine women, alluring women, strong and sexy and yet fragile women. La Manuela models his own "feminine" behavior on the figure of the flamenco dancer, while Molina is inspired by the great actresses of classic films from the 1940s.

Professionnel et technique
22 mars
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Romance Languages

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