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Beyond the Vanguardia: The
Dialectical Voice of Enrique
Christopher M. Travis



Elmhurst College
Published online: 03 Apr 2010.

To cite this article: Christopher M. Travis (2002) Beyond the Vanguardia:
The Dialectical Voice of Enrique Lihn, Romance Quarterly, 49:1, 61-74, DOI:
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has produced a late 61 . and in Marxist literary theory. Nestor Garcia Canclini suggests that Latin America is in a state of “multitemporal heterogeneity” (Hybrid Cultures 3). also familiar with the tenets of dialectical materialism and the Marxism of theorists such as Georg Lukics. and cultural critic Enrique Lihn understood that just as a laborer can become detached. and Theodor W. have helped to secure a unique identity and cultural autonomy for Latin American poetry. This. or at least “mediated” (used here. artistic expression can become equally void of meaning.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 Beyond the knpurdiu: The Dialectical Voice of Enrique Lihn Christopher M. economic imperialism. to signify “intervention” more than “resolution”) by an artist’s creative subjectivity. The various movements of the vanguardia. meaning that it is caught in a contradictory moment of passing simultaneously through premodern. a desire to elaborate a new dialectical voice that poeticizes the alienation of literary expression in the second half of the twentieth century. along with a history of military rule. Chilean poet. or alienated. and posrmodern epochs. However. which was limited. modern. However. Adorno.” -Enrique Lihn (EfCirco 438) I n the study of twentieth-century Latin American poetry. Jean-Paul Sartre. Travis “[Lja verdad es revolucionaria. one can associate many names with the innovation and renovation of literary language. in his creative work. Critical of the various manifestos and prescriptions of the vanguardia. and employed literary language. Lihn demonstrates. corno lo es tarnbih la b6squeda de la rnisrna. from Jorge Luis Borges’s ultraism0 in Argentina to Vicente Huidobro’s creacionismo in Chile. Lihn believed that these conditions could be resisted. and a struggle for cultural autonomy from Europe. and “alienated” from the meaning of his work. novelist. each of the movements represented a response to a particular set of historical circumstances. as an ideological product of dominant discourse.

this is quite similar to Lihn’s effort to decanonize Neruda. he believed that nineteenth-century realism.~ Brecht and Walter Benjamin felt that LuMcs. in his groundbreaking History and Class Consciousness (1923). but it can also become exhausted and predictable. for example. by underlining “typical” aspects of society. Adorno was most concerned with fetishization. Adorno shared Brechtk and Benjamin’s concern about LuMcs and the realist novel but was equally disappointed with the institutionalization of Brecht’s political and experimental theater. combining Hegelian theory with a Marxist sensitivity to material relations and class struggle. as well as reflect. was his failure to refute one important aspect of Hegel’s work: “identity theory. and literary convention on the other. the flaw in Lukics’s early work.’ In this article. Other theorists also refuted Hegel’s identity theory but believed that art could rejact. as Lukics later detected. Adorno who investigated most thoroughly the paradox of striving for a presupposed totality from a position of alienation. identity of subject and object only represents an ideal.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 capitalist era characterized by contradiction and hypocrisy. in the study of literature. intentionally thematizing alienation. drew critical attention to class conflict. which are dependent on the differentiation of subject and object. Lehrsriicke. was the first to return to the dialectics of Georg Hegel (the object of Marx’s critique). Lihn also detected LuMcs’s oversights. Lukics demonstrated that literature need not be propaganda for the working class to challenge dominant ideology and raise class consciousness. in his study of the Institute of Social Research and the Frankfurt School. to strive for that ideal totality requires class struggle and the dialectical process. especially in the case of Latin American poetry. Well read in critical theory. For example.’ Just as Marx believed that through class struggle the proletariat could regain consciousness and help determine social relations. repeated until it commodifies creative expression. However. even within the dialectical process itself. As I will demonstrate shortly. represented a new challenge to reified forms of expression. it was Theodor W. In his 1966 essay “Definicih de un poeta” Lihn reacts to the Hungarian philosopher: 62 ROMANCE QUARTERLY . I will first discuss Lihn’s critical views on Latin American literature in general and then consider how his own work poeticizes the failure of literary language. Marxist literary critics believe that dominant ideologies can be mediated through dialectical inquiry in expressive culture. Political art may have a role to play within a given historical context. Lihn’s creative work reflects these circumstances through a variety of genres and hybrid genres that satirize political leadership on the one hand. However. Georg Lukics. Once this was understood on a metaphysical level. absolute truth and totality could be achieved. according to Hegel.” Hegel had espoused an identity theory that considered the subject as identical to the object. However. was unable to recognize the ways in which modernism. According to Martin Jay. in his singular devotion to realism. as he himself explains in the introduction to the 1967 edition of History a n d C h s Consciousness. the reality of social s t r ~ g g l e Bertolt .

Inspired by the Marxist writings of Jean-Paul Sartre. con su aporte particular. Pondering this enigmatic paradox led Adorno to what he termed “negative dialectics.” Terry Eagleton in “Art after Auschwitz” explains that for Adorno.NO. negative. de transicih entre lo real y lo fantistico. Lihn refers to the French writer’s What I. and the legacy of Latin America’s greatest writers is seen as perhaps more a burden than an inspiration. “art suspends identity without canceling it. according to its own terms. Lihn explains how this concept of Sartrean engagement could be applied to Latin American poetry. seeking meaning (de-alienation) in the contradictions themselves: For the degree to which [dialectical criticism] places the older mental operation or problem solving in a new and larger context. in an effort to outline the course that should be taken by dialectical criticism. it converts the problem itself into a solution. If consciousness is achieved only during the moments of differentiation.” (El Circo 342) In the same article. centrindose en un tercer campo. but rather coming to understand the dilemma itself as the mark of the profound contradictions latent in the very mode of posing the problem. Demasiado dristico para la poesia. leadership is often oppressive. (57) Fredric Jameson. afirma Lukics. bases his conclusions on Adorno’s paradox as well. (El Circo 374) Lihn affirms that poetry is more powerful than Lukics perceived.” considering the plight of the poet on the universal level: Sartre t w o alglin motivo para afirmar que “el poeta esti seguro del fracas0 total de la empresa humana y se dispone a fracasar en su vida a fin de testimoniar. Revolution could not occur through a static contemplation of a frozen moment. He recognizes certain essential elements that WINTER 2002. 49.” Eagleton goes o n to quote Adorno in a passage where the latter explains the simultaneous need for both non-identity and identity: What we differentiate will appear divergent.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 “La literatura es el reflejo artistic0 de la realidad objetiva”. that an experimental form can provide greater mediation than reflective realism. no longer attempting to solve the dilemma head on. VOL. dissonant. la derrota humana en general. Literature (1947) in “Definicih de un poeta. then the critic or the artist must convert the problem into the solution. for just as long as the structure of our consciousnessobliges it to strive for unity: as long as its demand for totality will be its measure of whatever is not identical with it. refusing at once to underwrite antagonism or supply false consolation. and three years later in “Momentos esenciales de la poesia chilena” (1969). and what is real is the struggle. (Jameson 341) Lihni dialectical style. but rather through ongoing struggle for subjectivity. que tiende naturalmente a desrealizar lo objetivo y a objetivar lo subjetivo. 1 63 . responding to specific historical reality. broaches and breaches it simultaneously. offers an honest testimony during a time when literary language is often hackneyed.

in his essay. an effort at inclusion. pero de las que es preciso rendir cuentas.lead him to develop a more dialectical voice in his own poetry. Certainly Neruda’s political poetry corresponds to a particular historical moment of a “cult0 a la personalidad [. or in Mexico. . poets active before 1938 who were somehow trying to connect or dialogue with nature. .] que actlian sobre tl y sobre las cuales 61 actlia. . For example. the historical situation in which they find themselves. . and conceive of an existential relationship with their social and historic circumstances. con o sin Cxito. Jorge Luis Borges’s ultruismo. He cites Neruda’s Residenciu en la tierru (1937) and the poetic voice of Gabriela Mistral but insists that now the “new” generation is looking for something very different.” Lihn expresses concern over the “fetichizaci6n post mortem de Neruda” (El Circo 153). que lo enajenan y de las que trata de desenajenarse. Often these movements were accompanied by organizing publications such as Martin Fierro (Argentina).] del marxismo sovidtico. He writes: Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 El prop6sito universalista de la nueva poesia latinoamericana [. . or Contempordneus (Mexico). as commodifiers of a product left over from turn-of-the-century modernismo. O n many occasions he criticized those who practiced the “alquimia del verbo. and strive for de-alienation through honest recognition and consciousness of these circumstances. Revista de Avunce (Cuba). He indicates that human beings not only are acted upon by. They were all movements that a young poet might be encouraged to endorse or follow (and the political poetry of such important figures as Neruda and Vallejo in the 1930s and 1940s was no different). con 10s cuales aspira a inaugurar una nueva etapa inocente de la poesia chilena” (153). Lihn saw them. They are alienated. una visi6n critica del hombre. Lihn advocates an appreciation of “la claridad y la sencillez de las odas y 10s extravagarios. which further dictated a particular poetic d i s c ~ u r s eLihn . y del hombre en un mundo hist6rico de situaciones [. . through metaphor and imagery. instead. ~ was opposed to any type of unifying manifesto. Instead of a canonization and imitation. given its unique historical situation. Latin America’s vunguurdiu clearly had offered a wealth of innovative literature but characteristically gained its momentum by forming groups: in Argentina.] seria la de expresar o la de configurar potticamente una irnigen analitica. Juan Maples-Arce’s estridentismo. In “Literatura” he explains: 64 ROMANCE QUARTERLY . Lihn enjoyed Neruda’s odm elementules (1954-57).” thinking of themselves as wordsmiths who. whether implicit or explicit (as manifestos often were during the vunguurdiu). dar un testimonio. and a willingness to participate in a renovation of poetic language. ‘Tor una descanonizacih de Neruda que reinscriba el momento politico de una obra en su especificidad podtica. Revistu Azul (Mdxico). in the very use of the sufix ismu. in Chile. Vicente Huidobro’s creuciunismo. but also act upon.They all implied. as the poems reflect Neruda’s reading of Nicanor Parra.” but Lihn is concerned with the “exceso de imitadores” who still dwell in that poetic tone. would transform literary language. (El Circu 63) The above quotation is actually part of Lihn’s effort to enter into dialogue with his predecessors.

He proclaims himself a writer. and yet never writes anything creative. que pretende ser causa de efecros sociales y.] TambiCn ridiculiza la supuesta novedad de las vanguardias [. 49. speaking in an elevated language that defies classification. [. he referred to Huidobro subtly and sarcastically. por esca parcialidad. Pompier’s literary silence represents “una estrategia de confrontaci6n o impugnaci6n frente a la dudosa prdctica moderna del arte de la palabra y el txito que tsta conlleva para 10s que se constituyen en autores de moda en hispanoarntrica” (Sdtiru 67).Yet Pompier is quick to comment critically. “Porque escribi” Lihn explains his lack of interest in Huidobro’s creucionismo. Pero escribi y me muero por mi cuenta porque escribi porque escribi estoy vivo. Lihn calls into question the originality of Huidobro’s work. . porque escribir tambiin como ellos es ejercer el oficio mis blando. pero escribo en la medida en que odio a la literatura. Later. . and Lihn viewed the original Creucionistu himself. Sarrniento explains.I. Cuando me encuentro conmigo mismo frente al papel en blanco pienso en pavos reales y trato a1 menos de no ser brillante. una produccicin literaria que mediante la imigen de vanguardismo literario busca venderse dentro del mercado de la modernidad. . For years. . In his own version of an urs poeticu. Gerard0 de Pompier. Vicente Huidobro (who believed that the poet could be a “pequeiio dios”). are not without their models. According to Oscar Sarmiento.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 Cuando me encuentro con 10s astros de primera magnitud y esos pavos reales brilIan con la debida discreci6n yo 10s invitaria a vomitar. He is pompous. however. 1 65 . condenado a durar menos.NO. una mera exageracicin de lo viejo. VOL. en general. with equal dissatisfaction. por otra. que sus modelos algo mis intemporales. (Oliphant 40) These young poets. . is a reflection of the hypocritical and contradictory nature of Latin American literary figures. seiiala: “Lo nuevo era. Pompier cuestiona dos modos de entender y producir la literatura: por una parte una literatura de servicio o cornpromecida.] cuando al referirse a Huidobro y dar la fecha de 1916. specifying all that it owed to Baudelaire and Rimbaud. communicating to his readers a clear critique.” (Sdtiru 68) WINTER 2002. or any other type of affiliation: Porque escribl no estuve en casa de verdugo ni me deji llevar por el amor a Dios ni aceptC que 10s hombres fueran dioses ni me hice desear como escribiente ni la pobreza me pareci6 atroz ni el poder una cosa deseable ni me lavi ni me ensucii las manos ni fueron virgenes mis mejores amigas ni tuve como amigo un fariseo ni a pesar de la ccilera quise desbaratar a mi enemigo. y a 10s autores j6venes me gustaria gritarles basta de farsas [. . (Musiquilla 81) In his critical articles. in his satirical novel El urte de la pulabru (1 983). he includes a character who critiques the fetishization of literary expression during the vunguardia in generaL5 This fictional caricature.

he 66 ROMANCE QUARTERLY .* While I agree that the sonnets represent a demythification process. antipoetry is not an “exaltaci6n cosmog6nica de la naturaleza. (El Circo 42) Lihn admits on one occasion that “unos cuantos poetas j6venes ( a h ) no podemos defendernos de las acusaciones de parristas” (Conversucidnes 23). tragic6mico: en una mhcara con algo de 10s protagonistas filos6ficos e imperrurbables del cine mudo. claims that Lihn approaches antipoetry not only through diction. Neruda promised to carry the flame of poetry in his own hands. ficticio. Lihn never referred to himself as an antipoet for two reasons: first. .Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 As mentioned. al mismo tiempo. algo par6dico. by what it is not. una operation en todos 10s planos de la creacion poirica cuya causa final seria la de expresar a1 hombre integral. Lihn “alcanza 10s miximos atributos de lo que conocemos como antipoesia” (“Sobre” 179). it strives to reveal the true contradictory reality of society. en este caso. Again in contrast to the work of Neruda or Mistral. Lihn wrote: Poemas y antipoemas inicia y se extiende a lo largo de todo el proceso de la poesia actual. una zona abierta. literary language had been controlled by those desiring to reach some sort of universal transcendence. As closely as he worked with Parra and as much as learned from him. Lihn goes on to define “antipoetry. Si yo tuviera que emplear una sola palabra para catologar a Parra y seiialar la novedad y la fuerza de su caracter poktico. (El Circo 1 11) In the same article. tendria que echar mano al mds provocativo de 10s conceptos: el realismo. en un personaje reatral. however. but through the deconstruction and parody of form. por iguales partes a la naturaleza y al espiritu. [. Ltrtora believes that in the sonnets from Por’orfirermmayor (1972). Empiaa y culmina. He believes that Lihn uses colloquialisms and irony to “desmitificar completamente la naturaleza de la propia poesia” (“Sobre” 179).” appropriately. un proceso de desdramatizaci6n que despersonaliza al hablante convirtihdolo. arriving at “un us0 mimttico. haciendo del poema un terreno de cultivo del mismo. Maria Luisa Fischer observes the presence of a “dicci6n parriana” as early as Lihn’s Piem Oscura (1963) (Fischer 134). ni una blisqueda esencialista del hombre americano” (El Circo 113). en el mismo circulo. in which Lihn remembers Parra’s opinion that the sonnet was “una forma gastada y que era un error escribir sonetos” (Conversucidnes 110). Aqui termina.’ Juan Carlos Ltrtora. In his article “Nicanor Parra: antipoesia o poesia integral” Lihn writes. . and Gabriela Mistral used poetry as a profound connection to the earth itseK6 In 1971. Stripped of decorative metaphor and symbolism. y yo retengo de ese coloquialismo s610 algunos efectos de realidad (Conversucidnes24). Lihn describes Parra’s aesthetic as a unique form of realism. como obligado punto de referencia del mismo. Huidobro saw himself as the “poeta-mago”. and later discusses with Pedro Lastra that Parra’s greatest influence was his effort to free poetry from mythifying rhetoric. la tendencia anotada por Girard con respecto al romdntico quien “busca inflar su yo en la medida del universo”.] Realism0 que significa. Lihn felt that before the arrival of Parra’s Poemus y untipoemus (1954). en lo literario. Ltrtora did not enjoy in 1977 the benefit of Lihn’s conversations with Pedro Lastra.

con espontaneidad o genio propio. but also valid on a universal level. as had occurred with other more organized movements of the vanguardia. an acknowledgment and therefore a type of reification of that ideology. Un lenguaje sometido continuamente a proceso de especializaci6n en lo que puede comprometer ficilmente su “contenido” como es el lenguaje podtico. he chooses to “hablar desde el terror [. the “terror” could mean the alienation of language caused by modern capitalism and the commodification of words. in the first place.] para encarnarla. A second reason why Lihn does not label himself an antipoet is that he does not reject poetry. Parra himself encouraged the attention and participation of others: “Vine yo / y me instal6 con mi montaiia rusa / suban si les parece” (42).] yo empleC el soneto tambikn para hablar desde el terror. leading to the exhaustion of literary expression. tiene necesidad de hacer un reconocimiento de su situaci6n para escapar a las fosilizaciones verbales [. the oppressive military rule of Pinochet from 1973 to 1989 (only a year after Lihn’s death) limited independent and free expression. on a more universal level. to enter into a dialogue regarding their failure. A critique of antipoetry. in the spirit of Adorno. H e explains that in the sonnet el lenguaje reconoce y revela su caricter de forma hechiza. no para denunciarla ni para documentarla sino para encarnarla.” The WINTER 2002. This is indicative of an economic and political relationship of colonization and exploitation. he returns to traditional forms. (Conversaciones 23) The “terror” and “represi6n” of which Lihn speaks can be understood on many levels. but instead of purely rejecting that language. This critical awareness led Lihn back to the sonnet for perhaps the exact reason that Parra discouraged his interest. NO. in effect. might question whether a direct refutation of traditional lyrical expression was not. . In the specific case of Chile. In “Voy por las calles de un Madrid secreto” Lihn poeticizes the failure of expression: El espafiol con el que me parieron padre de tantos vicios literarios y del que no he podido liberarme puede haberme traido a esta ciudad para hacerme sufrir lo merecido: un soliloquio en una lengua muerta. such as the sonnet. En algunos poetas 10s estereotipos se infiltran en el lenguaje sin que isre pierda su inocencia y siga funcionando en la creencia de que lo hace en una forma natural. Instead. 1 67 . . ( Apartir 50)’ Although the tone is very personal. en la represi6n. and of course the country’s use of Castilian Spanish. giving testimony to the alienated state of Latin American poetry. was imposed by colonialism. artificial y prefabricada: hablamos y escribimos siempre de una manera estereotipada. . Lihn perceives the terror of an individual’s inability to express him.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 believed that Parra’s popularity and imitators threatened to fetishize the aesthetic. In the poem.or herself through nonalienated language. because it was the forma m h gastah. 49. we must not confuse the poetic persona with Lihn himself. . it is the postcolonial Latin American subject that feels condemned to a language not entirely its own. VOL. However.

Juan y Diego. appreciated the “grandeza lirica” of G6ngora and Quevedo. . the persona not only reflects its historical situation. This metapoetics is the essence of Lihn’s negative dialectics. situacidn irregular (1977) try to move away from literary rhetoric and employ the most common colloquial speech. from both Por fierza mayor (1975) and Parts.] para hacerme sufrir”) and the individual’s own responsibility. (Porfierzu mayor 30)’O In this sonnet.” He is respectful of the individual achievements of these poets. . In his conversations with Pedro Lastra. there are other uncontrollable forces that provide a return to subjectivity. rather than their “pequefiez realista [.” Only through creative expression can one give new meaning to the discourse that shapes our existence. The persona is made to suffer. intervening as subject in the formation of discourse. but also assumes it. Lihn suggests that within poetry. Therefore.” comparing the most canonical poets of the Spanish sonnet with any old “Pedro.] la burla. he explains that earlier poets. a la espafiola hablo de lo que no me importa un bledo: cincel en mano dejo en paz al ego y me tercio el soneto en banderola: Lope de Vega. G6ngora y Quevedo como quien dice Pedro. Poetic expression becomes an agent in the construction of its own world.” By giving voice to the alienation of the modern world. un enfrentamiento con el mundo” (66). Lihn is both rejecting and accepting the history of Spanish poetry. por favor. Lihn’s sonnets. . he paradoxically employs an alienated form and process to regain conscious subjectivity. in ‘Tor fuerza mayor” he returns to the use of poetic devices such as metaphor. such as Neruda and the Generacidn de 27 in Spain. In one sonnet he refers to words as his “pequefios signos de impotencia” (Porfierza mayor 114) and in another theorizes the entire project of returning to the most traditional form of expression in the Spanish language: El soneto de forma recoleta con sus catorce caras recortadas no es un resumidero de cagadas a menos que se escriba a rnaleta. vivan de la ret6rica / nosotros estamos ligados a la historia” (LaMusiquilla 24). but in a way that further differentiates him from his predecessors. Realizing that we cannot escape rhetoric.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 poet simultaneously recognizes the forces acting upon the individual as object (“me parieron [. la dtira. Juan y Diego. that 68 ROMANCE QUARTERLY . to strive for liberation-even if these efforts should fail (“no he podido liberarme”). as subject. Yo que soy por ejemplo pura jeta -una lengua de vibora afamadadejo en el sonetear la mala hablada de lado y me resign0 a la receta. . Yet. He purports to leave the colloquialism of the “mala hablada” behind but admits that “no me importa un bledo. In “Mester de juglaria” he states unequivocally: “Que otros. Con elegante gesto. but suffers “lo merecido.

El mar y el sol. In 1969. In the latter half of the twentieth century. Jameson’s explanation of the dialectical process in criticism serves as a perfect interpretation of Lihn’s poem ‘Tor h e m a mayor” and of the entire creative endeavor. and to redissolve into history. not only in spite of. if even for a moment: Las exageraciones me parecen justificables. en realidad vivimos de ellas. aker 1969. very well received critically. Lihn renews not a faith in. Being ‘‘linked’’ to reality means being linked (and yet unlinked) to a foreverevolving reality and participating in shaping one’s social circumstances. the poet is abroad. in which the model strains to return to that concrete moment from which it originally came. When Lihn maintains a place in his poetry for the intervention of a ‘‘fuerza mayor” in 1975 and says. cada cual a su manera asi como se muere de 10s excesos del sentido comlin. represents a personal and nostalgic return to the poet’s childhood. (Porfirerm mayor 79) To contextualize the appearance of this poem we must understand where it appears in the trajectory of Lihn’s work. por ejemplo. NO. Latin America’s economic and political paradoxes must be reflected and refracted in creative expression. As the act of memory itself is compared to poetry. and the physical alienation felt as a outsider returning to his European roots provides a concrete image for the more abstract intellectual alienation on which my article has focused. the disillusionment culminates in the completely antipoetic prose-style essay-poems “Escrito en Cuba” and “Varadero de Ruben Dario” in which he expresses his disapproval of the verbal alchemy of modernismo or any movement that privileges poetry with transcendent qualities.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 metaphorically. In his next work. without relinquishing his critical consciousness. son naturalmente exagerados o si se quiere: ret6ricos mientras que de locos artificios del lenguaje -y el lenguaje mismo es el primero de ellosquisieron ponerse aqui al servicio de la poesia que no es ni artificial ni natural. that “porque escribi estoy vivo” (LA Mwiquifla). opposite poles may come together. to abolish itself as an illusion of autonomy. poetry. providing some sort of transcendence. the alienation of language. the objective is: the final moment in the process of dialectical analysis. However. as cited earlier. Poesia depao (1966). VOL. 49. tierra de nadie a lo mejor pero un lugar comlin en que esos polos se tocan y en el mejor de 10s casos por fuerza mayor. but a willingness to struggle through. and in truly dialectical criticism. For Jameson. meaning is shown to be constantly evolving. but also by poeticizing. 1 69 . The entire book is a rumination on literary language itself. offering as it does so some momentary glimpse of reality as a concrete whole.he reinvests in poetry a struggle for de-alienated subjectivity. His Pieza Oscura (1963). (12) WINTER 2002.

He writes: Nada tiene que ver el dolor con el dolor nada tiene que ver la desesperacih con la desesperacih Las palabras que usamos para designar esas cosas estin viciadas No hay nombres en la zona muda [. in vain. Lihn created a dialectical voice that would simultaneously abolish the “illusion of autonomy” while also hoping that through the dynamic process. Lihn did not stop writing but instead treated his sickness as a powerful metaphor for the failure of poetry. he believed. but an acceptance of death and a consciousness that. shadowing in its inevitability such ephemeral projects as poetry. Diario de Muerte (1989). vitiated by definition. he might reach a “glimpse of reality. could refract and intervene in the shaping of social circumstances. a term Lihn used to describe his poetry in the conversations with Pedro Lastra (Conversaciones48). always looming. . O n the other. are subject to a preconditioned meaning beyond and besides that intended by the individual. but also to names of objects. Words are human inventions. Words such as “pain” or “desperation” are still just words and. Lihn employs a language that is appropriately sincere and direct: “No hay nombres en la zona muda. and “Cste” (the poem itself) only perpetuates.” He refers not only to personal names. (Diurio 13) Facing the reality of the present moment. Critics have been particularly drawn to Lihn’s Diario de Muerte. words betray transcendent expression. In dying.” Elmhurst College 70 ROMANCE QUARTEUY . Like Adorno. thus reifying dominant ideologies instead of challenging them.13O n the one hand.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 Jameson’s “momentary glimpse of reality” recalls the moment when Lihn’s two opposite poles come together through an uncontrollable force.] Nada time que ver la muerte con esta irnagen de la que me retract0 todas nuestras maneras de referirnos a las cosas estin viciadas y Cste no es rna’sque otro modo de viciarlas. Lihn was constantly on guard against the frequent moments when language becomes commodified. the failure that is about to be quieted. Lihn still cannot rely on words to express the true nature of his experience. The search itself is indeed “revolucionaria. believing it to represent the essence of hispoesfa situada. Even when dying of lung cancer. this term is appropriate.” Published posthumously by Pedro Lastra and Adriana ValdCs. as his poetry was always rooted in the reality of the historical moment. . these last poems are not his effort to fight death by adding to his literary legacy. serving as one’s only hope for a glimpse of true consciousness.” Lihn’s poeticized critique of the failure of language to transcend a human being’s alienated condition culminated in a profound dialogue with his own physical failure in his final effort. as such. the term is insufficient to describe the dynamic disjunction between subject and object explored dialectically in Lihn’s writing. even in death. Death is a recurrent theme throughout Lihn’s twenty-five years of poetry. But art.

Although there is considerable attention afforded to the new poetic voice created in Lihn’s work. by every way except its complete hypocrisy and lack of meaning. With Lihn.] Literary works have their own independent ideological role and their own type of refraction of socioeconomic existence” (IS). 1 71 . “The Dialogic Imagination” to understand the ability of experimental genre to subvert hegemonic discourse and ideology. The state of literature is undefinable. believes that this revolutionary element is present in the nineteenth-century realist novel. Urtora (El arte de lapalabra). Medvedev discuss the immediate tasks of literary scholarship. His Paseo ahurnadz. and Sarmiento (Sdtira). Neruda remembers his period of political poetry. . . the “manifesto” may have simply been to stay independent of politics and to be elegant. While an exhaustive analysis of the novel Arre de la palabra is not within the scope of this article. NO. It is acknowledged that with the Conternpora‘neos group. N. however. The result is a humorous satire of the military regime and Chile’s manipulation of its image and hypocritical effort at modernization. In his Memorial de Isla Negra (1963). all of these factors are present.” Bakhtin and Medvedev make the next logical connection between words and literature. 49. new signs of ideological intercourse [. Bakhtin and I? N. therefore. M. feeling that he responded to a specific call. worldly.” 3. Such studies include those of George Ytidice. which is described as not exactly an island. Volosinov’s work that demonstrated that the sign is an ideological product of class struggle. I ardi6 la llama viva / que yo IlevC en las manos” (170). Excellent studies have understood this novel (for lack of a more appropriate generic description) as a strident parody of military rule in Chile as well as a commentary on Latin American literature. . Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP.] these signs are works of art which become a real part of the social reality surrounding man. Rodrigo Cinovas. where “El Protector” has ruled for as long as anyone can remember. often referred to as the “grupo sin grupo” because of their variety of styles. Writers apparently convene for some sort of conference in a labyrinthean hotel that is shaped like a swastika. Nevertheless. VOL. was actually published as a street magazine. Bakhtin. 1978). but no one has any idea why they are there. Another approach is to trace exactly how the genre itself is renovated. believing that the heteroglossia subverts and decentralizes the notion of one dominant discourse. / Se vio que habia que dar sin m h remedio . literature creates new forms.” must underline the existence of voices that transcend class separation within poetry. . . 6. elevating his poetry to a more universal level. It takes place in a type of dystopia called La Republica independiente de Miranda. focusing their attention on the refraction. The reader is referred to Waldo Rojas’s article/homage entitled “A Generation’s Response to The Dark Room. and the country has passed through every political system imaginable. Albert J. and cosmopolitan. although a collection of poems. WINTER 2002.. 5. much like Lubcs. . He wrote: “en un dia sin banderas . Critics often turn to Mikhail Bakhtin and his groundbreaking collection of essays. or mediation. but neither part of another continent. it is important to understand its major achievements. . M. Based on V. A Bakhtinean reading of twentieth-century Latin American poetry. Wehrle. it is not within the scope of this article to explore the rich legacy of critical and creative innovation that he left behind as manifested in the work of his successors. [. In The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship: A Critical Introduction to Sociological Poetics (trans. 4. and presents voices from all walks of life. His poetry often can be read like a novel or critical article. and that the word is the “ideological phenomenon par excellence.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 NOTES 1. such as that realized by JosC Cerna-Badn in his “La poesia como gCnero hbrido: Experimentaci6n literaria y heteroglosia en el Perk. 2. that the creative expression offers of its historical circumstances: “In reflecting these and other signs. the journal united and supported their unique styles and encouraged a purity of expression consistent with the poesiapura of Juan Ram6n JimCnez (Garcia 56).

] tambidn sig72 ROMANCE QUARTERLY . Carmen Foxley. (20) Critics have also chosen to focus on a slightly different concept of negation. Waldo Rojas. “Sobre la poesia de Enrique Lihn. C o m a Diaz actually traces Lihn’s poetic relationship with death back to his “Mon6logo del poeta con su muerre. Oscar Galindo.Rodriguez E bases his analysis on Diario de Muerte. in Correa-Dfaz 66). razonante. see Dave Oliphanti preface to his book of translations Figures ofspeech (1999).” published in 1977. Rodrigo Cinovas.” Correa-Diaz’s work is actually three essays on negation. Correa-Diaz and Mario Rodriguez F have focused sections of their studies on Lihn’s poesia s i t d . 13. la literatura / poesia como el lugar. y b) su consideracih inversa. 9. Fischer is specifically concerned with the “Mon6logo del padre con su hijo de meses” and the “Mon6logo del viejo con la muerte. studies Lihn’s work (principally Mwiquilla de hpobres esferas) and devotes an entire chapter of his book to “El espiritu de negaci6n” to it. 12. con preposiciones 16gicas” (135). For an insightful and poignant medical consideration of the relationship between Lihn’s particular symptoms and his Diario de Muerte. Luis Correa-Diaz. 10. Other critics have investigated salient connections to the picaresque in his Paseo Ahumada (1 973). and Lihn’s final posthumous publication. he seems to hope that Lihn can benefit from Parra’s popularity and ironically denies Lihn his independence and uniqueness of style. tal vez linico. This dialogue with the history of Spanish letters is well discussed by Carmen Foxley in Enrique Lihn: esrritura exrintrica y modernidad (1 993). While his observations are well substantiated. MPE 2 5 ) . 11. postliteratura and erotismo en Enrique Lihn. He also detects the dialectical function of Lihn’s work. Among others. Lihn’s obvious engagement with poets from the Spanish Baroque is consistent with other projects in which he presents grotesque caricatures of literary and political figures. It should be understood that the main objective of LKrtora’s article. su degeneraci6n de la s6rdida identidad de lo real y la muerte” (as qtd. Lihn says that “Aqui se establece una identiduientre la muertey lapoesia o lo imaginario: las imigenes que el poeta produce serian como las cdlulas de una antivida. especially in his Arte de la palabra. The application of Adorno’s term to Lihn’s work is an intentional reference to the German critical theorist. genre.“esra cosa de nada y para nada tan fatigosa” (Lihn en su poema “Mester de Juglaria”. . .” Speaking about that poem. such as the Pinguino. While Correa-Diaz does not necessarily make the connection to Theodor Adorno and negative dialectics. 8. Ltrtora and Ostria Gonzilez both make the connection to Bakhtin’s study on Rabelais and the carnivalesque. concluding that “poesia situada significa un enfrentamiento con la vida (0 la muerte) considerada como signo o ‘textualidad base’ [. many of whose characters. but the concept of negation in Lihn’s work has been investigated by other critics who seemingly intend no such reference. He concludes that “junto a la poesia de Parra.Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 7. comparte [Lihn] un lugar de primer orden en la poesia hispanoamericana actual” (180). Faced with the contradictions of modernity. for example.” as well as “Destiempos” in which she detects a “lenguaje sin metiforas. Ldrrora. Mauricio Ostria Gonzilez. is to attract attention to Lihn’s work by celebrating it as antipoetry and grouping Lihn with Parra. Diario de muerte (1989). underlining: a) la “ineficacia” de la literatura . he presents insightful study of Lihn’s willingness to contest alienation from within the lengua muerta. the subject often turns to the use of masks to disguise or negate its identity. donde sea posible revocar 10s daiios que causa a la vida y a1 vivo la “enajenaci6n” de su sociedad. and Correa-Diaz all investigate the function of the mask in Lihn’s work. Lihn’s recognition of the death of language in this poem has inspired an excellent study of the Chilean’s work by Luis Correa-Diaz entitled “Lengua Muerta: poesia. were street dwellers. formulaci6n que se repite como una idea motiva a travCs de innumerables textos de la obra podtica completa-.

“Art after Auschwitz. Instituto de lnvestigaciones Humanisticas. New York: Hill and Wang. Trans. 1979. Luis A.” Mexican Literature. La Mwiquifla de hpobres e$ras. Ed. Enrique Lihn: escritura exc6ntrica y modernihd. Straus and WINTER 2002. Lihn. Lihn. Fredric. 1969. Bakhtin. Dept. Austin: U ofTexas P. “La narrativa agenkrica de Enrique Lihn: La poktica de reconciliaci6n.” Creacidny Critira 38 (1986): 9-1 1. “El Arte de la palabra: La subversih del relato Literatura Chilena. Walter. Trans. A partir de Manhattan. . Santiago: Editorial Universicaria. Michael Holquist. Santiago: Editorial Universitaria. Neruda.” Hispanic Journa12. Josk. El Paseo ahumada. Carmen. B. We. Jose Emilio Pacheco y Enrique Lihn. 1 73 . 1974. On Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. Anna Bostock. Rhode Island: Ediciones INTI. Universidad Veracruzana. Radrigan: Literatura Chilena y experiencia autoritaria. 1995. 1996. . El Circo en llamas. E. Boston U. . 1994. Negative Dialectics.2 (1. David William Foster. New York: Seabury Press. Jay. Terry. . as critics. Isla Negra a Notebook. Santiago: Aconcagua. . Santiago: Ganymedes. Rodrigo. 1971. 1973. Benjamin. 1989. Martin. Porfirerza mayor. History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. post-literatura and erotismo en Enrique Lihn.” Revista de critica literaria latinoamericana 50 (1999): 235-45. Cerna-Bazin. Pedro Lastra and Adriana Valdks. Garcia. NO. . Xalapa: Centro de Investigaciones Linguistico-Literarias. Enrique.nifica una relaci6n que establece el sujeto con 10s discursos literarios” (31). Ed. situacidn irregular. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays.D. Theodor W. of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures. Diez. diss. A History. Oxford: Blackwell. are fortunate that Lihn was such a prolific autocritic. Georg. VOL.2) (1980): 91-99. Trans. Emhart Canovas. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. “Historia y texto poktico: La poesia de Antonio Cisneros. Ed.” Zxto Critic0 8 (1977): 170-80. Foxley. Lengua muerta: Poesia. Ed. Cuadernos de cexto critico. Diario de muerte. 38-42. Pablo. Santiago: Ediciones Ainavillo. 1996. Trans. 1975. Eagleton. 1983. Fischer. The Dialectical Imagination: A History o f the Frankfirrt School and the Institute for Social Research. 1977. Santiago: Ediciones Minga. “Twentieth Century Poetry. . 1981. 1996. Alastair Reid. Berkeley: U of California P.” Ph. 1992. Terry Eagleton and Drew Milne. New York: Farrar. Adriana. 1973. Lukics. Ictus. Correa-Diaz. M. Luis. 1973. Juan Carlos. Zurita. Conversacionescon Enrique Lihn /Pedro Lmtra. Paris. 1964. . Ed. providing such a provocative term to describe his understanding of art’s relationship to sociohistorical reality. Brecht. Jameson. . John Willett. Lkrtora. Rodney Livingstone. Ashton. Marxism and Form: Twentieth-Century Dialectical Theories of Jay. Maria Luisa. 1980. “Sobre la poesia de Enrique Lihn. London: NLB. Madrid: Barral. UnderstandingBrecht. Barcelona: Editorial Pomaire.” Marxist Literary Theory. 1923-1950. London: Merlin Press. Trans. “La poesia como gknero hibrido: experimentaci6n literaria y heteroglossia en el Perh. Bertolt. Santiago: Editorial Universitaria. Princeton: Princeton UP. Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 WORKS CITED Adorno.49. Santiago: Lorn Ediciones. 1980. and trans. El Arte de la palabra. 1986. 171-212. Austin: U ofTexas P. Literature. M.

1992. Oscar. “El dialog0 entre la poesia de Enrique Lihn y Jorge Teillier: La ciudad y el pueblo. Galindo. Ed. 1999. Ostria Gonzilez. ‘XGeneration’s Response to The Dark Room. Anthony Sranton and Rafael Olea Franco. Oliphant. Downloaded by [University College London] at 13:14 12 August 2014 WORKS CONSULTED Eagleton. Mauricio. Sarmiento. David Unger. “Los Contempodneos y el debate en torno a la poesia pura. Figures ofspeech. Terry. New York: New Directions.” Los Contempordneos en el laberinto de la critica. Edith. “Diario de muerte de Enrique Lihn: el deseo de la escritura. “The Poetics of Breakdown. Waldo.” ReviewLatin American Literature &Arts 23 (1978): 25-30.” Revista Chikna de Literarura 46 (1994): 101-09. 1981. George. “Sitira de la recepci6n textual en El arte de la palabra.” Review-Latin American Literature &Arts 23 (1978): 20-24. Oscar Dario. Nicanor. Grossman. . Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. “Escritura y viaje en la poesia de Enrique Lihn. “Enrique Lihn o la desdicha sin respuesta.” ReviewLatin American Literature & Arts 29 (198 1): 55-6 1. Antipoems: New and Selected. Rodriguez F. 27-45.D. Parra.Giroux. Mexico: El Colegio de MCxico. 1990. U of Oregon. 74 ROMANCE QUARTERLY . “The Art of Speech: Rhetoric and Literature in Latin America. Yudice. Dave.” Acta Literaria 18 (1993): 25-35.” Ph. Ed. Oscar Dario. Sarmiento.” Revista de Crftica Literaria Latinoamericana 18 (35) (1992): 49-60. diss. 1994. 1985.” Revista Chikna de Literatura 37 (1991):67-76. Mario. Rojas. Austin: Host Publications. Stanton. Anthony. The SipiFcance ofTheory.