History, Neurosis, and Subjectivity: Gustavo Ferreyra’s Rewriting of Neoliberal Ruins

  • Idelber Avelar
Part of the New Concepts in Latino American Cultures book series (NDLAC)


While during the first wave of postdictatorial literature, from the 1980s to the early 1990s, Argentine fiction was marked by the question of how literature was to understand history, a few contemporary Argentine novels have revisited the dictatorship in ways that avoid allegorical, historical, or memorializing narratives (Sarlo, 471). In fact, one could devise a typology of the first generation of postdictatorial novels by establishing each author’s position on the dialectic of history and memory. That first wave was marked by struggles about the codification of the past and by clashes between the old Left and new Left, arrepentidos and nonarrepentidos, los que se fueron and los que se quedaron, avant-gardists and populists.1 At that moment, the role of literature—or better yet, the question of a role for literature—was still the object of heated argument, and novels played an important part in propelling that debate. Juan José Saer’s work was the pinnacle of an Argentine tradition characterized by delving into the workings of memory. His characters’ occasional intersecting with the collective—particularly in Nadie nada nunca (1980), El entenado (1983), Glosa (1986), and La grande (2005)—constitutes some of the most enduring reflection on subjective memory’s engagement with history. Furthermore, from Ricardo Piglia’s restitutive cyberpunk allegories in La ciudad ausente (1992) to Tununa Mercado’s psychoanalytic grappling with writing as a medium for mourning work in En estado de memoria (1990), the best Argentine fiction sided with those who sought aesthetic experiences able to counter the peril of postapocalyptic forgetting. In 2009, it is apparent that all that has changed.


Aesthetic Experience Narrative Structure Military Coup Enduring Reflection Elementary School Principal 
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Copyright information

© Michael J. Lazzara and Vicky Unruh 2009

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  • Idelber Avelar

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