What DID you WRITE about? = ¿Sobre qué ESCRIBIÓ Ud.?
Yale University, New Haven, CT
This dissertation purports to discuss Rosalía de Castro's writing self, as distinct from her empirical self (Compostela 1837 - Padrón 1885), but not necessarily identical to the "speakers" of her poems. My fundamental premise, that Castro invented a writing self (or a unique poetic voice, or her subjectivity) over a lifetime of composing poetry, leads to a focus on subjectivity as it constantly engages in dialogue, traffics in ideas, and endeavors to assert itself above both internal and external interference. This dissertation does not ignore the social, personal, and historical contexts of Castro's poetry, but views the work as a context in itself, within the bounds of which she confronts those wider issues.
My analysis of three rhetorical and thematic structures running through Rosalía de Castro's poetic production will reveal the outlines of this independent yet problematic subjectivity. Castro's famous air of solitude, her saudade, is more than simply a theme she borrows from Galician folk culture: she performs gestures of solitude, taking on the role of the Solitary, and asserts a separate, differentiated self in the face of powerful pressures to conform and dissolve into group identities. The first chapter will discuss various aspects of the poet's gesture of solitude, which serves to differentiate the self she creates from other paradigms (literary, social, or gender-based) that would otherwise almost by default co-opt her identity. The second chapter will study her problematic and not always successful efforts to achieve a unified self by negotiating the many tensions and ostensibly exclusive allegiances which threaten to completely fragment her writing self. And as the striking irony of many of Castro's poems illustrates a certain self-awareness and control over her subjectivity, the final chapter will examine different layers of irony and her manipulations of point-of-view.
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