There exists a constant within the trajectory of Diamela Eltit’s contributions to New Chilean Fiction: the turn to the body’s revelatory capacity as a corporal archive of human existence. Simultaneously exploring and rejecting the confines of the traditional testimonial reliance on language, Eltit moves the reader to a reconsideration of the truth-telling function of the biological materiality of the body, placing imperfect corporalities on display as a means of speaking, even where the voice itself may falter. This essay locates Eltit’s move to the corporal within the trajectory of feminist criticism, the traumatic realities of the Chilean dictatorship and post-dictatorship periods, and the search for the recuperation of those bodily knowledges represented by the disappeared. Next, it turns to Eltit’s Impuesto a la carne as her most recent re-visioning of the importance of corporal textualities, whether or not the subject-matter of the body’s denunciation is connected to the dictatorship. Lastly, this essay reconsiders the rejective power of the traditional archive, analyzing the effect set models have on those who seek to tell their stories outside of the traditional testimonial model. I argue that the case of Diamela Eltit is an example of the way writers and producers of cultural texts which actively inscribe alternative memories of the past are resisting the authoritative power of the archive and subversively inscribing narrative memory onto bodily materialities, re-orienting the view of the corporal from an evidentiary showing to an active process of re-telling the past. Eltit’s novels, inscribed with her corporal textual model, give voice to survivors, articulating an alternate historical model for the archive, embracing the biological and making it speak against the rigid abuses of authoritarianism.
Catedral Tomada: Journal of Latin American Literary Criticism
University of Pittsburgh
Corbin, M. L. (2013). Archiveras anarquistas: Corporal Testimony in the Work of Diamela Eltit. Catedral Tomada: Journal of Latin American Literary Criticism, 1(1), 1-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/ct/2013.29