Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Hankins, Gabriel

Committee Member

Bushnell , Cameron

Committee Member

Tissera , Graciela

Abstract

In this paper I will explore the possibility that Horacio Quiroga's regional treatment of modernist themes is more than a creole adaptation or mimicry of the European maestros, instead placing Quiroga in dialogue with an international framework of contemporary texts that explore conflicting attitudes towards modernity through dark portrayals of science and technology. I focus on Quiroga's 1910 novella El hombre artificial (The Artificial Man), a text with an amalgamation of themes and plot devices that have caused the work itself to be dismissed for being of 'poor quality.' Yet these themes and formal features integrally connect Quiroga's novella to a European social and literary tradition. I will focus my inquiry on the image of the automaton--an artificial or constructed human being that appears throughout Western literature, but becomes especially prevalent in modernist literature. By examining parallel treatments of the automaton by European authors Sigmund Freud and Karel Capek, I will demonstrate that Quiroga belongs to an international conversation which utilizes the automaton to draw attention to the common nature of these concerns and preoccupations evident in both canonical and marginal modernist literature. This comparative study of different portrayals of the automaton will thus complicate attempts to view modernist literature as a unified whole or single narrative. Labeling Quiroga a mere 'predecessor' of Latin American magical realism or imitator of European maestros is to remove him to a sphere separate from European modernism in order to preserve a coherent approach to a heterogeneous topic. We should instead utilize a comparison of these representations of automata to enhance our understanding of a complex, nuanced transnational modernism or modernisms that holds conversations across national borders.

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