[lit-ideas] Reared by a Gaucho

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2007 20:45:18 EST

>child-rearing is all about love.
                            J. M. Geary
"Don Segundo Sombra" 
Gaucho Masculinities -- Revisited
Deconstructing Gaucho Masculinities
Borges's South and the Sufferable Gaucho
>Today I received Borges' A Personal Anthology and read 'The South.'  After
>having read Bolaño's The Insufferable Gaucho, 'The South' was  a
>disappointment. Yes, Bolaño must have used the story as an  outline, but
>not merely that. I suspect he found 'The South'  insufferably short with too
>many important loose ends left to the  imagination or more likely the
>perplexity of the reader. Dahlman  remains a puzzle which Bolano plausibly
>explains [...] What can Dahlman's  motive be for going out to die other than 
>the precedent set by his maternal great-grandfather who died gloriously 
>from an Indian spear?   But don't we all have  great-grandfather's who died 
>gloriously from an Indian spear - so to speak.  Let me think  ...
--- and we let him, and he thinks thrice, and signs off as the sufferable  
marine he is.
Anyway, I'm planning (Odin willing -- I've _just_ seen "Beowulf", and LOVED  
Sir Anthony Hopkins utter that) to analyse in more detail the Bolaño Story and 
 its acknowledge 'intertextuality' to Borges's 'South'.
There's possibly _thousands_ of online analyses for "The South", so I don't  
think Helm necessarily wants me to add the thousand and one. Yet, I may focus 
on  some points of cross-reference with Bolaño story.
The Bolaño story, to remind our readers, was originally published in  
Spanish, by this late Chilean author (when he was not late), and just published 
English in the last issue of "The New Yorker", as a lurker advised  Helm.
As I recall Bolaño refers to "The South" twice, even making a connection  
with the Borges story's character, "Dahlman".
I would think that my antipathy for Bolaño's attitude is best expressed by  
R. Teruggi's (not recommended!) book, "No me toquen los gauchos" (Please don't  
touch the gauchos for me). Gauchos are untouchable in that they deal with 
Holy  Cows and they ARE Hollier than Thou.
I don't think Borges is serious in referring to gaucho mythology (Borges  was 
more serious in talking about _Beowulf_); he looked to be controversial. I  
wonder if another story from "Personal Anthology" catches Helm's pleasure -- 
let  us know.
Bolaño then is parodying a parody. There are a couple of inconsistencies in  
Bolaño story, as I rather superficially read it:
(i) it seemed to me that Bolaño's "alter ego" in "The unsufferable [as  
opposed to 'sufferable'? -- I never liked that expression, and think it's a  
mispronounced Gallicism, what has _pathos_ to do with anything?] is a blend  of:

-- the father -- the 'oligarch'  or 'bien venido a menos' (faded aristocrat),
                 whose favourite author is Borges -- and ...
        -- the son -- who must be a  Doppelgaenger of Bolano himself.  
Search in Bolano's stats, and we'll find possibly that 
                 he was a 'visiting' writer at some northwestern uni, as
                 he rather ungratefully puts it.
        -- the holy ghost.
(ii) I never met an aristocrat, or land-owner, for that matter (in the  sense 
of _big_ land-owner) who ever liked, or displayed or expressed an interest  
for Borges. Borges is sort of anathema, and for a 'bien nacido' (well bred) to  
show an understanding of Borges' stories is counterproductive. Borges is 
talked  about but never _read_. So Bolaño's praise for Borges 'in the mouth' of 
the  'rancher' sounds unrealistic to me.
(iii) As I recall -- but then structural analysts want you to FORGET that  
--, "The South" is VERY autobiographical, in that Borges was recovering from a  
serious illness and it seems the whole "South" episode can be understood as  
happening _only in dreams_. Mind, dreams are a constant in literature, and I 
was  surprised as how relevant they are in the "Beowulf" story I've just seen. 
 would think the 'puzzles' left to the reader, to use Helm's phrase, are  
basically concerned with this idea of the untrustworthy narrator -- whose  
'diegesis' is not necessarily referential to the _things in the world_ but to  
episodes in his or her mind. 
----- In that respect, the final to the Bolano story would ring a bell to a  
Borgesian in that the return of the main character to the 'ranch' may be  
displaced to the level of the imaginary, not to the real.
(iii) I understand that the good thing about Bolano's story is his parody  of 
gaucho habits, and the inconsistencies as they apply to the main character in 
 his (to use Helm's comparison again, in an earlier post) "Quixotic" 
attitudes.  But one wonders why the fixation with gauchos. And being Argentine, 
is  right when he says that _he_ (who is not an Argentine) would perhaps feel 
just  as uncomfortable with him reading about a Marine, or a 'Cowboy', as he 
------- Sorry not too inspired tonight, but felt like sharing this  before,
                 Good night, list.
J. L.
    Buenos Aires, Argentina.
          the title of this  post is meant ironically, as the way perhaps a 
bad MLA teacher would title  it 
         "Don Segundo Sombra" is my  favourite gaucho novel -- a 
                of an aristocrat, written by an aristocrat, as he was 
'reared' by a

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