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The Afterlife of Storytelling: Julio Cortazar's Reading of Walter Benjamin and Edgar Allan Poe

The Afterlife of Storytelling: Julio Cortazar's Reading of Walter Benjamin and Edgar Allan Poe MONG THE MANY EVENTS that took place in Cuba following the 1959 Revolution was a seemingly insignificant literary gathering: a lecture by the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar in Havana in 1963. In “Algunos aspectos del cuento” (“Some Aspects of the Short Story”), Cortázar presented his theory of the short story in relation to various masters of the genre, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and Katherine Mansfield. While Cortázar focused primarily on the structural characteristics of the best short stories, it is clear that in this lecture he was also setting out to define the political possibilities of telling a story in postrevolutionary Cuba. As Miguel Herráez notes in his recent biography, although Cortázar was never completely dedicated to the revolution in Cuba, he was nevertheless infected with an enthusiastic desire to rethink the relation between literature and politics (166).1 Cortázar’s lecture, which was eventually published as an 1 Cortázar confessed to Antón Arrufat that his passion for Cuba had reached a pathological level during this period: “Me he enfermado incurablemente de Cuba” (“I’ve become incurably sick with Cuba”) (Cortázar, qtd. in Herráez 164). This incurable sickness pushed Cortázar to reconsider the relation between writing and politics, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

The Afterlife of Storytelling: Julio Cortazar's Reading of Walter Benjamin and Edgar Allan Poe

Comparative Literature , Volume 60 (3) – Jan 1, 2008

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2008 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-60-3-244
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

MONG THE MANY EVENTS that took place in Cuba following the 1959 Revolution was a seemingly insignificant literary gathering: a lecture by the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar in Havana in 1963. In “Algunos aspectos del cuento” (“Some Aspects of the Short Story”), Cortázar presented his theory of the short story in relation to various masters of the genre, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and Katherine Mansfield. While Cortázar focused primarily on the structural characteristics of the best short stories, it is clear that in this lecture he was also setting out to define the political possibilities of telling a story in postrevolutionary Cuba. As Miguel Herráez notes in his recent biography, although Cortázar was never completely dedicated to the revolution in Cuba, he was nevertheless infected with an enthusiastic desire to rethink the relation between literature and politics (166).1 Cortázar’s lecture, which was eventually published as an 1 Cortázar confessed to Antón Arrufat that his passion for Cuba had reached a pathological level during this period: “Me he enfermado incurablemente de Cuba” (“I’ve become incurably sick with Cuba”) (Cortázar, qtd. in Herráez 164). This incurable sickness pushed Cortázar to reconsider the relation between writing and politics,

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2008

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