This essay examines how Fernando del Paso and Salvador Elizondo, two Mexican authors at opposite ends of what might be termed the Joycean spectrum, assimilate Joyce into their respective cultural projects. The essay argues that the incorporation of Joycean aesthetics into Mexican letters is the result of a persistent quest for universality, a quest that demands defiance towards notions of literary nationalism associated with the periphery and cosmopolitan assignations of cultural inferiority. The essay endeavors to answer two seminal questions: How do Del Paso and Elizondo constitute themselves as participatory members in the larger field of Western and world culture? And how does the apparent divestment of national cultural identity actually reaffirm the importance of that identity? Specifically, I am intrigued by the different ways in which they interact with Joyce both as literary icon and body of texts in order to assert their cultural credentials on the world stage. To that end, the essay is divided into three sections. The first examines how Joyce arrived in Mexico and the critical context that brought his work into the center of discussions about literature in the 1960s, as well as the ways in which updated theoretical approaches can help move beyond comparative narratologies. The second section examines Del Paso's engagement with the Western canon in his public addresses and his parodic subversions of Joycean texts. The third section studies Elizondo's appropriation of Joyce's early aesthetics and his translation of the first page of Finnegans Wake.
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Brian L. Price; Non Serviam: James Joyce and Mexico. Comparative Literature 1 June 2012; 64 (2): 192–206. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-1590137
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