A practical daughter: Cristina Peri Rossi reads Felisberto Hernandez
Cristina Peri Rossi (1941) let herself be influenced by fellow Uruguayan Felisberto Hernandez (1902-64), evoking him often in works of fiction and non-fiction in the 1980s. In a variation of Harold Bloom's notions on the anxiety of influence, Peri Rossi is more devious than innocent in her uses of Felisberto as a literary precursor. On the one hand, her rendering of Felisberto as too innocent to engage in political activism allows her to appear politically committed without being strident; on the other, Peri Rossi can invoke Felisberto to keep the influence of her stronger literary friend Julio Cortazar (1914-84) at bay. The awkward tenderness between hapless father and practical daughter in her 1975 story "La influencia de Edgar A. Poe en la poesia de Raimundo Arias" epitomizes her complicated relationship to a writer whose work she promoted, even if not always faithfully. This relationship can then be traced through Peri Rossi's El libro de mis primos, La nave de los locos, Fantasias eroticas, and "Fetichistas S.A.". As she examines the position of weak masculinity and strong perverse desire in her own works, Peri Rossi's championing of Felisberto minimizes and miniaturizes him, turning him into a figure of pre-modern nostalgia for a naive Uruguay she left behind for Europe and ignoring his own ideas about the economic basis and social effects of fetishistic desire.
O’Connor, Patrick. 2016. “A Practical Daughter: Cristina Peri Rossi Reads Felisberto Hernández.” Letras Femeninas, 41(2): 98-114.
University of Texas at Austin, College of Liberal Arts