Writing against the grain: Ignacio Solares' novels of the Mexican Revolution

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2003

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Hoyle, Rafael Dent

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Abstract

This dissertation studies four novels by the Mexican writer Ignacio Solares. Although Solares has written over a dozen novels, this dissertation focuses on the four that are part of the literary tradition known as the narrativa de la Revolución Mexicana. The objective of the dissertation is to identify how the four novels continue, enrich and depart from said tradition. For this analysis, the dissertation compares the four novels to a selection of twelve classic works that serve as a cross section and template of the narrativa de la Revolución. The comparison reveals significant similarities and differences. Chapter one discusses how the four novels, like so many previous novelas de la Revolución, contest the conventional celebratory interpretation of the Mexican Revolution. Chapter two, however, shows that the four look beyond the failures of the Revolution, thus transcending the pessimism that critics have identified as a hallmark of the novela de la Revolución. Chapter three focuses on another unique aspect of the four novels, this being that each implicitly encourages the reader to understand religious faith as a necessity for individual fulfillment, and as an empowering force in the struggle for social progress. Chapter four discusses the four novels’ relevance to their more immediate cultural and sociopolitical context. An initial argument of the chapter is that the four can rightly be classified as postmodern historical novels, although certain definitions of the postmodern, particularly those that define the postmodern aesthetic as ahistorical and apolitical, do not apply. Solares’ novelas de la Revolución clearly respond to the sociopolitical dilemmas that define the final two decades of twentieth-century Mexico. The study concludes that the narrativa de la Revolución Mexicana has been significantly enriched by Solares’ contributions. Like many novelists who came before him, Solares helps readers understand the past from a new perspective. At the same time, Solares breaks patterns that had become too predictable in the narrativa de la Revolución. These innovations make for a compelling series of novels that encourage readers to reinterpret the present by changing their understanding of the past.

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