In after-dinner conversation: The diary of a decadent (a critical translation of Jose Asuncion Silva's "De sobremesa")

by Washbourne, Richard Kelly

Abstract (Summary)
My dissertation consists of a critical, annotated and translated edition, in English, of the fin-de-si�¨cle novel, De sobremesa (1896), a key work of Modernista prose in Spanish America by Colombian writer Jos�© Asunci�³n Silva. The edition features the translation, endnotes, an interdisciplinary introductory study and bibliography. After an introduction of the writer, I consider the work's form as a hybrid travelogue, memoir and manifesto, or ars poetica in prose, and its relationship to Decadence in form and content. I invoke examples of the confessional genre and memoirs from the day, and support suggestions that the novel anticipates later novels of dislocation and fragmentation. I contextualize the work as a product of the epoch's nascent ideas of psychotherapy, psychopathology and illness, and thus duly examine the presence and function of "pseudo-science" and the cult of scientific authority in the work. Accordingly, the remnant Catholic apparatus the hero adheres to is considered against his amorality. I explain this value system as partially a product of Paris, a space that is invented/discovered in the Latin American imaginary. I then treat the body in the novel, in dialogue with critics who note the novel's "medical gaze." In this connection I study the characterization of science, normalcy, power, and subversive erotics. Appropriately I characterize the professionalization of medicine at the time and the so-called "therapeutic ethos" counterpoised to the neurotic aesthetics then in vogue. Consequently I explore the tropes of illness in the novel, specifically tuberculosis, nerves and madness. Subsequently I examine consumer psychology, and insert the hero's neo-feudal values in that era's material culture. Finally I discuss the translation process in theory and praxis, and in my translation proper provide notes to allusions and intertexts.
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Massachusetts Amherst

School Location:USA - Massachusetts

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2002

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