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Reading: Death and Metaphor in Cien años de soledad, La casa de los espíritus and Paula


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Research Article

Death and Metaphor in Cien años de soledad, La casa de los espíritus and Paula


Carmen Serrano

University at Albany State University of New York Albany NY, US
About Carmen
Carmen Serrano is an Assistant Professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York. As a scholar of twentieth and twenty-first Latin American and U.S. Latino literature and culture, she analyzes the ways in which literature and films manifest monstrous and deviant bodies: the human and the nonhuman, the corporeal and the spectral, and the dead and the undead. Her articles include “Duplicitous Vampires Annihilating Tradition in Froylán Turcios’s El vampiro”; “Gallo-Gallina: Gender Performance and the Androgynous Imagination in Elena Poniatowska’s Hasta no verte Jesús mío”; and “Revamping Dracula on the Mexican Silver Screen in Fernando Méndez’s El vampiro.” Her forthcoming book Vampires, Doppelgängers, and Live Burials: Innovation and Transformation of Gothic Forms in Latin American Narratives will be published by University of New Mexico Press (2019). She is also working on her second book: Ghosting and Un-ghosting Indigenous Cultures: Yaquis’ Absence and Presence in Literature of the Mexican Revolution.
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In the article I describe the ways in which we have created elaborate ways in making death illusory, so as to avoid confronting mortality. In particular I describe the way in which authors, too, circumvent the terror of death and the accompanying corpse by using words that emphasize the heroic or peaceful aspects of the character’s end or by employing euphemisms that invoke a contrived beauty. Literary descriptions of corpses, especially those of young female ones, frequently encourage readers to see the body through trope, as something other than death, in which the deceased turn into sleeping beauties or otherworldly celestial splendors—transformations that suppress death’s ubiquitous and threatening presence. This article briefly analyzes the representation of death and the dead body in Cien años de soledad (1967) by Gabriel García Márquez to pave the way for a comprehensive examination of Isabel Allende’s novel La casa de los espíritus (1982) and her memoir Paula (1994), both of which draw from García Márquez’s novel. Collectively, the texts underscore the frailty of human life but quickly mask death’s threat by employing hyperbolic metaphors and analogies skewed in degrees that make characters’ deaths implausible and unreal. Because Allende and García Márquez more often describe female corpses than male ones, this article in particular analyzes the metaphoric language used to describe these female corpses, which are often transformed into mythic goddesses, sirens, or holy virgins, or transmogrified into foodstuffs or other non-human entities.
How to Cite: Serrano, C., 2019. Death and Metaphor in Cien años de soledad, La casa de los espíritus and Paula. Latin American Literary Review, 46(91). DOI:
Published on 22 May 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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