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Four Latin American Autobiographies: I, History and National Identity in A. Gerchunoff, M. Agosín, A. Bioy Casares, and O. Soriano

Silvia Berger, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This project will focus on four Latin American writers' autobiographies: Autobiography, by Alberto Gerchunoff; A cross and a Star. Memories of a Jewish Girl in Chile, by Marjorie Agosín; Memories, by Adolfo Bioy Casares; and Stories from Happy Times, by Osvaldo Soriano. The selection of these texts was based upon the underlying themes that they have in common. Three of them are texts written from the outskirts of the social fabric: Alberto Gerchunoff is a Jewish immigrant in Argentina at the turn of the century, struggling to find a place in which to create his own roots. Marjorie Agosín, daughter of European immigrants in Chile fleeing Russian pogroms first and Nazism later, and an immigrant herself to the United States, writes about the difficulties of finding roots in the Latin America she loves so much. Osvaldo Soriano, a native of Argentina, recreates his childhood by stressing the significance of belonging to a lower middle class family involved in the political and social struggles of the 40's and early 50's in his country. Finally, Adolfo Bioy Casares, also Argentine born, is the only one writing from the center: he belongs to one of the very few old, affluent landowner families in the Province of Buenos Aires, and represents the feelings and the political skepticism that characterize the members of his class. This study will attempt to explore the purposes that these writers set for themselves in the creation of their texts. My thesis is that autobiographies are a particular case of discourse in which the writer's feelings of belonging to a group, be it ethnic, national, ideological, gender or class related, set the stage for the elaboration of autobiographical texts. The personal story embodies others, and politics, history, and ideology come together and justify the very existence of writing itself. The personal becomes a literary strategy utilized to render the ideological background visible and to assure the text's impact on the reader. This study will show that autobiography as a genre questions the assumption by which there is a clear-cut difference between reality as opposed to fiction.

Subject Area

Biographies|Latin American literature

Recommended Citation

Berger, Silvia, "Four Latin American Autobiographies: I, History and National Identity in A. Gerchunoff, M. Agosín, A. Bioy Casares, and O. Soriano" (2001). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3027179.