Gendering the marvellous: Strategies of response in Remedios Varo, Elena Garro and Carmen Boullosa
My doctoral research constitutes three case studies dealing with the work of the painter Remedios Varo and the writers Elena Garro and Carmen Boullosa. Their works incorporate a mixed imagery and iconography to which criticism has attached the label of surrealist, fantastic or magical realist respectively and sometimes even indiscriminately. Uncertain about the usefulness of defining this artist and these writers as ‘surrealist’ or ‘marvelous realist’, I would rather suggest that their work enters into dialogue with surrealism, as well with the specific American vocabulary Carpentier attributed to lo real maravilloso americano. The fundamental objective of this thesis is to prove how this dialogue creates a counter aesthetic of ‘revisionist mythmaking’ that foregrounds the existing gender problematic within these two discourses, while strategically reassessing the role woman has played in relationship to love, myth, history and creativity. It is my belief that a different account of surrealism and lo real maravilloso lies within the work of these women and that to start writing the story of such account will reveal important connections between Varo’s assimilation of Latin American narratives and Garro’s and Boullosa’s absorption of surrealism. On the one hand, this study provides a new insight from which to comprehend the transcendence of surrealism in the ambit of Mexican culture, amplifying the already existing critical work on the field. On the other, it provides a new lens through which to understand and read the specific work of Remedios Varo, Elena Garro and Carmen Boullosa while discerning a common strategy of response between them.