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Imagination and Self-Transformation in Puig’s El beso del la mujer araña

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  1. Introduction
  2. Imagination as impetus: Three key scenes
  3. Cinema, imagination and love: A relative analysis
  4. Conclusion
  5. Notes
  6. Bibliography

One of the first things to strike a reader of Mañuel Puig's El beso de la mujer araña is its narrative, or rather, textual structure. The novel is composed of numerous different discourses, including film narrations, footnotes, surveillance evidence, dialogue, subjective thoughts, etc. Most of the text consists of dialogue between the two cellmates, although it is not always clear who is speaking and when. The mere use of dashes to introduce speech, without an indication of the identity of the speaker, blurs this distinction. Additionally, the added footnotes with psychological literature; the subjective thoughts of the characters, as indicated by italics; grocery store lists (as dictated by Molina to the Warden); a letter dictated to Molina by Valentín and intended for the latter's lover, Marta; and the surveillance evidence incorporated at the end, as well as the film narratives and the dream that Valentín has at the novel's end, which I will discuss, all together suggest that the entire work is a meant to be seen as an assemblage of many discourses, which comment on one another and which the reader, and the characters to the extent that these discourses are available to them, must piece together. In this paper I will focus on the effects of the recounting and elaboration of plots from films that one of the characters, Molina, has seen. Consequently I will look at some of these film narratives and at the dialogue between Molina and Valentín.

[...] Bueno, yo también solté el moco una vez Pero basta, che Me pone nervioso, que llores? (218).[vii] Also, the narrative, and the imaginary love expressed in it, seem to have a significant effect on Valentín. It leads him to discuss with Molina his personal life, including his girlfriend and his ambivalent feelings toward her, something he would not have done at the outset. This story actually triggers Valentín's imagination, and deeply engages him throughout . He repeatedly tells Molina to go on with the film. [...]


[...] In particular, it is composed, for the most part, of a dialogue between the two cellmates, although it is not clear who is speaking and when. The mere use of dashes to introduce speech, without an indication of the identity of the speaker, blurs this distinction. Additionally, the added footnotes with psychological literature; the subjective thoughts of the characters, as indicated by italics; grocery store lists (as dictated by Molina to the Warden); a letter dictated to Molina by Valentín and intended for the latter's lover, Marta; and the surveillance evidence incorporated at the end, as well as the film narratives and the dream that Valentín has at the novel's end, all together suggest that the entire work is a meant to be an assemblage of many discourses, which the reader must piece together. [...]


[...] / perfecto, es la verdad, las dos cosas, me entretengo y agarro el sueño? (22).[ix] Molina views the narrations as illusions that he needs and as an escape from the mundane prison world. He suggests to Valentín that film narration can provide an escape from political oppression, pain, hunger, etc. It does not bother Molina that the world of cinema is illusory; he affirms this: yo me sentía fenómeno, me había olvidado de esta mugre de celda, de todo, contándote la película. [...]

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