The subject between texts in Alejandra Pizarnik's poetry

Zeiss, Elizabeth Anne
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This dissertation seeks to trace the interplay between the various poetic voices active in Alejandra Pizarnik’s (1936-72) poetic writing. I construct these personae and name them la melancólica, la niña, and la polígrafa. In addition, I classify Sombra and Sacha as quasi voices. By means of each persona the Pizarnikian subject explores different facets of human experience: with la melancólica, the feeling of depression and the artistic elaboration of it; with la niña, the confrontation between the artist as a young girl and tradition; with la polígrafa, the self on the border of fragmentation, deforming language and culture; with Sombra, the experience of being a liminal presence and the remainder of the changing self in time; and with Sacha, an emerging voice, the resultant subjectivity in a textual field in which the techniques employed throughout Pizarnik’s work reach their culmination. vii The palimpsesting of texts is one such technique or procedure. Much of Pizarnik’s poetic writing constitutes a rereading of the literature en vogue in the unique cultural milieu of Paris in the 1950s and 60s. She effects such a rereading by creating what I call palimpsestic texts, which “plagiarize” works by famous authors, taking either excerpts from them, or even the entirety of the text, and making additions to and subtractions from them. Some palimpsested works are Samuel Beckett’s Endgame (1957), Les Chants de Maldoror (1864) by Isidore Ducasse, Le comte de Lautréamont, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland(1865) and A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens. I argue that the palimpsestic technique goes hand in hand with Pizarnik’s implementation of nonsensical methods of writing, employed by la polígrafa and la niña. In this dissertation I define a nonsense technique as any procedure that makes one question the systems through which one interprets reality. Therefore the central issues for this dissertation are the analysis of the changing poetic subject and the voices of its personae, the role that nonsense techniques play in those transformations, and the questioning of the palimpsestic practice, a writing form ideal for Pizarnik’s examination of subjectivity.