One or several betrayals?: Or, when is betrayal treason? Genet, Arlt and the Argentine liberal project

Bollig, B.A.F. 2003. One or several betrayals?: Or, when is betrayal treason? Genet, Arlt and the Argentine liberal project. Bulletin of Latin American Research. 22 (4), pp. 401-419.

TitleOne or several betrayals?: Or, when is betrayal treason? Genet, Arlt and the Argentine liberal project
AuthorsBollig, B.A.F.
Abstract

Betrayal is one of the key narrative tropes in the fiction of the Argentine writer Roberto Arlt. The psychological and existential implications of the betrayals found in novels such as El juguete rabioso (1926) and El amor brujo (1933) have attracted much critical comment, as have the links between the betrayals found in Arlt's fiction and the work of Jean Genet. Arlt's oeuvre has been read in relation to the turbulent political context of 1920s and 30s Argentina, in particular the failure of the Liberal Project of economic development through immigration that was introduced after the fall of the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas in 1852, the economic collapse of 1929 and the ensuing military coup of 1930. Critics have suggested that betrayal in Arlt represents an attack on bourgeois hypocrisy, a middle-class attempt at transcending one's environment, or a reversal of dominant social values. This paper however intends to deepen the understanding of betrayal in Arlt's fiction by examining it as a political gesture, a quality overlooked by many studies. A reading of the political nature of betrayal in Genet's work and an engagement with Bersani's queer reading of Funeral Rites alongside Said's analysis of Genet as an anti-identarian revolutionary, allows the reader of Arlt to reassess the political gesture contained in betrayal, and to move towards a reading of the development in Arlt's fiction either side of the military takeover of 1930, moving from his critique of the rising petit-bourgeois classes in El juguete rabioso (1926) to a clear realisation and encouragement of class consciousness in the short stories of El criador de gorilas (1936).

JournalBulletin of Latin American Research
Journal citation22 (4), pp. 401-419
ISSN0261-3050
YearOct 2003
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/1470-9856.00085
Publication dates
PublishedOct 2003

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