Research leave: the working methods of

Project Details

Description

This research furthers knowledge in the field of Argentinian literary studies in the mid-20th century, in particular in the area of the impact of French literature. Alejandra Pizarnik is a key figure in this period of Argentinian poetry, but one who since her death by overdose has been much mythologized. This project grounds our understanding of her work - and particularly its trajectory in the last few years of her life -much more solidly via analysis of available manuscript material. Overall, through the research undertaken, a much fuller and richer picture of Pizarnik's unpublished work has been gained, allowing readers only acquainted with the published Pizarnik to understand in greater depth the struggles she was going through latterly to find new creative voices and means of expression within a social and literary context that was not entirely ready to receive them.

Layman's description

This research furthers knowledge in the field of Argentinian literary studies in the mid-20th century, in particular in the area of the impact of French literature. Alejandra Pizarnik is a key figure in this period of Argentinian poetry, but one who since her death by overdose has been much mythologized. This project grounds our understanding of her work - and particularly its trajectory in the last few years of her life -much more solidly via analysis of available manuscript material. Overall, through the research undertaken, a much fuller and richer picture of Pizarnik's unpublished work has been gained, allowing readers only acquainted with the published Pizarnik to understand in greater depth the struggles she was going through latterly to find new creative voices and means of expression within a social and literary context that was not entirely ready to receive them.

Key findings

Major areas of self-censorship have been clearly identified and analysed; these concern primarily Pizarnik's troubled relationship to her Jewish identity and to her sexuality. Critics have previously labelled Pizarnik as lesbian through readings of her controversial prose text 'La condesa sangrienta', but the exploration of sexuality undertaken in these unpublished and censored manuscripts suggests a desire in Pizarnik to escape such rigid gender classification.



Close study of her experimentation with different prose genres, and of her self-doubt about the success of these experiments expressed in unpublished letters and in revisions and deletions of manuscripts, has shed further light on how Pizarnik saw her own work developing within her specific social and literary context. It has shown how she sought out and studied particular writers as models in prose, but how her own aesthetic concerns about the nature of 'the literary' were frequently in conflict with her prose endeavours.



One of the aspects of her prose writing which is highlighted by this research is her interest in humour. Her unpublished notes on techniques of humour and her compilation of humorous examples from other established Argentinian writers such as Bioy, Borges and Cortázar put the cacophonic humour of 'La bucanera' into a more structured and literary context.



Pizarnik's important activity as a translator, and the cross-fertilization between this and her creative process, has been fruitfully examined by this project. Although the authors Pizarnik translated have an impact on her own creative writing, the most striking aspect of her translation is how through manipulation of the source texts, Pizarnik uses the process of translation to work through and express her own aesthetic preoccupations as a reader and creative writer.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/09/0831/03/09

Funding

  • AHRC: £29,611.00