Monstrous Projections of Femininity in the Fiction of Mexican Writer Rosario Castellanos

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One of the most unfathomable aspects of Castellanos’s work is the parade of female deformities within it, a record of the pain of women’s oppression in its diverse and varying forms, and the female body as a site of shame, disease, disfigurement and pain. This monograph examines the construction of femininity with reference to her novels, Balún-Canán and Oficio de tinieblas and her short story collections Ciudad Real, Los convidados de agosto and Álbum de familia.


“Nuala Finnegan is the first critic who has fully faced up to the challenge of reading Castellanos’s ‘body discourse’ and her metaphors of a diseased femininity. Her work can never again be read in the same way it could before this book existed.” – Translation Review

“The author’s reading of Rosario Castellano’s female characterization is from a definite feminist perspective, but she also looks towards the various cultural forces at work in the Mexico of the 1950s to 70s (for example, the all-important indigenous question). The result is one of the most extensive analytical studies made on the work of Rosario Castellanos. It should considerably heighten our understanding of the contradictions implicit in both the writer and her work played out as she, and other Mexican women, struggled against the male domination ever-present in the society in which they lived.” – British Bulletin of Publications

“Nuala Finnegan’s complex interweaving of a broad range of theoretical concepts with meticulous and illuminating readings of Rosario Castellanos’s ‘body discourse’ is just one of the aspects that make Monstrous Projections of Femininity in the Fiction of Mexican Writer Rosario Castellanos a study that future critics will be obliged to reference. This pioneering study (re)locates Rosario Castellanos as the major literary figure she has always been and provides us with an enabling intellectual framework for discussion of our textual constructions of femininity, especially but not exclusively in relation to her use of metaphor…. In a passionate and engaging work of literary criticism, Nuala Finnegan has unsheathed that metaphorical sword anew and has exposed its painful and double-edged damage.” – Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

“. . . Finnegan deploys the concepts of Kristeva and others with consummate skill and great sensitivity. The result is a reappraisal of key significance. . . . a compelling and thoroughly new reading of a writer who is perhaps only now beginning to be recognised as of the first rank. That recognition will certainly be advanced by the sensitive and thorough – as well as often surprising – reading of her work that this work provides. . . . Nuala Finnegan’s work is an authentically original contribution to Castellanos scholarship and one that by the verve and elegance of the writing as well as the complexity of thought that underlies it, will draw new readers into the fascinating debate.” – Mike Gonzalez

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. Balún-Canán : Extraordinary Stories
2. Ciudad Real and Feminine Dis-ease
3. Oficio de tinieblas : Piercing the Abscess
4. New Extreme in some later Short Stories
5. Álbum de familia : The Meeting of Monsters
Bibliography; Index

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