Infiernos Imaginarios: Puerto Rican Marginality in Abniel Marat's Dios en el Playgirl de noviembre and Eugenio María de Hostos’s La Peregrinación de Bayoán

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Abstract

This essay attempts a critical reading of the Puerto Rican writers Abniel Marat’s drama dios en el Playgirl de noviembre (God in November’s Playgirl) and Eugenio María de Hostos’s novel La Peregrinación de Bayoán (The Peregrination of Bayoan). My study explores two different discourses: first, the discourse of Abniel Marat, as representative of an oppressed, angry, and silenced homosexual community at the margins of Puerto Rican culture; and second, the discourse of Eugenio María de Hostos, which represents the discourse of the founding father of an emerging Puerto Rican national identity that struggles to break away from Spanish colonialism. My essay shows that these two discourses, one which takes place in the nineteenth century at the origins of a Puerto Rican national consciousness, and the other, which takes place at the end of the twentieth century at the moment of neocolonial national re-examination, mirror each other in structure, rhetorical devices, and thematic composition. These two discourses not only resemble each other, but also share their origins in bad conscience: a place of self-tortures of the mind and tremblings of the flesh. For these two discourses, in their critique of their socio-cultural condition, share the same structural space of enunciation, a space outside the law, or perhaps even inherent to the law, that is, a space of deviancy. As these two discourses, the legitimized discourse of national identity and the discourse of the silenced homosexual, are examined, a structural and thematic sameness shows forth. My essay sheds light on this structural origin of the founding father’s discourse as a mode of enunciation always already constituted from a space outside the law, a space of deviancy. That is to say, the founding father’s discourse is always already a deviant discourse, perhaps it could even be said, a perverse discourse. Therefore, the desire of the patriot, patriotic desire, is always already deviant, if not, perhaps, already perverse. The ideas of sexuality and nationality, of sexual and national identity, do not merge just recently, but were always already merged at the origins of their space of enunciation. Thus the idea of national identity is always already an ideological construction that has its birth in a space of deviancy: one that later is to be silenced and incorporated as a constitutive absence, as a silence within, as a forgotten mythology of silent origins. But these origins, always addressed, always questioned, may only answer back with the ambiguity of an always elusive yet always present mythology of spectral silences.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-239
JournalMFS - Modern Fiction Studies
Volume44
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998

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