An Iberian search: a comparative study of Sufi mysticism's presence in the postmodern poetry of Clara Janés and Joaquim Pessoa

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Simon, Robert Louis Dempsey

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In this dissertation, I develop the notion of the presence and influence of an Iberian Sufi mystical process in the poetry of Clara Janés and Joaquim Pessoa. I also further define these poets' role in the development of postmodernism in the Iberian Peninsula. In Chapter I, I give the reader a general idea of who Clara Janés and Joaquim Pessoa are. I then summarize five points of postmodernism which are the most revealing and important for the study of their work: the decentralization of the "master narrative;" the idea of "kitsch" art and deconstruction; Kristeva's notions of intertextuality, the collage, chora and feminist discourse; Eagleton's socialist discourse of discontent; the ideas about the development of the postmodern in the Iberian peninsula in the work of Debicki, Guimarães, Holloway and several other critics. Afterwards, I utilize the work of a Spanish poet, Ana Rossetti, and a Portuguese one, Vasco Graça Moura, whose poetries exemplify the particular unfolding of postmodernism in peninsular poetry. In Chapter II, I summarize critical work done on the poetry of Clara Janés and Joaquim Pessoa. I also expand on that work, suggesting the possibility of a Sufi presence and influence in Janés' work, particularly over the last 20 years, and in Pessoa's work from c. 1980 to c. 1995. Chapter III is a summary of mystical thought in the Iberian Peninsula. I pay special attention to Ibn 'Arabi's modification of the Persian Sufi mystical process and San Juan's application of that modified process in his work. Chapter IV is dedicated to an analysis of the presence and influence of the Sufi mystical process in Clara Janés' work. In particular, the poetic collections Vivir, Creciente Fértil, Diván y el ópalo de fuego and Arcangel de sombra are studied. Chapter V fulfills the same function, but in this case I study two of Joaquim Pessoaís works, Os Olhos de Isa and A Mesa do Amor. In both Chapters IV and V, I argue for the simultaneous existence of a Sufi mystical discourse matched with an anti-hegemonic one. In the case of Clara Janés, the anti-hegemonic discourse is feminist in nature, while in Joaquim Pessoa's case, the discourse is an antitraditionalist, anti-government one. The concluding chapter deals with the issue of whether or not this Sufi-influenced poetry may still be considered "postmodern" Beyond the postmodern theories studied and applied here, I also use the work of several critics in both Sufi and Christian Mysticism, such as Nurbakhsh's Encyclopedia of Sufi Symbolism and Luce Lopez-Baralt's San Juan de la Cruz y el Islam. In addition to these, several other critical works from the fields of Spanish and Portuguese poetry, and Iberian Contemporary History, are applied.