Cross-Dressing the Second Empire in Fernando del Paso’s Noticias del imperio
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Fernando del Paso quickly distinguished himself as one of the most promising writers of the midcentury generation when he published José Trigo (1966). Structurally ambitious and stylistically innovative, the novel recreates the violent governmental repression of striking railway work ers of Nonalco-Tlatelolco in 1959. Excitement for his work continued to grow with the publication of Palinuro de México (1977), which follows the adventures of a medical student in downtown Mexico City who dies during a breathtaking climax at the Tlatelolco Square massacre in 1968. Critics and readers anxiously awaited ten years for the publication of his third novel, Noticias del imperio (1987), and were not disappointed. It is no less ambitious in its scope than its predecessors and tells the story of the 1861 invasion of Mexico by French forces, the short-lived empire under Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph of Austria, and the definitive tri-umph of the liberal faction led by Benito Juârez. Each of these novels can be rightly considered a totalizing novel, which Ryan Long has defined as one that attempts to recreate a single day, event, or nation in its entirety. Each addresses a particular moment of crisis when authoritarianism was thrown into striking relief against the background of democratic insti-tutions and progress. The portrayal of governmental violence employed against peaceably striking workers and protesting students in his first two novels is complemented by the image of European expansionist aggression against an independent nation that had only recently overcome militarism and established a democratic government.
KeywordsNational Identity National History Imperial Couple Mexican Society Cultural Paradigm
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