Despite linguistic and cultural divides, the works Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo and Soul by Andrey Platonov parallel each other in their strikingly overlapping literary treatment of the spirit—one in the spectral form of the ghost, and the other in the internal, intangible form of the soul—and its affective manifestation in comparable contexts of postrevolutionary modernization and agricultural-economic transition. Both texts rupture the social realism that had dominated the literary scenes of Russia and Mexico, respectively, in the early twentieth century through the use of the social figure of the spirit/specter that emerges in the protagonists’ return to places of origin. In the liminal yet visionary desert landscapes haunted by the Comalan ghosts and the enduring Dzhan dispossessed, the Hegelian notion of historical development is unseated and, with it, the dialectical (im)possibility of utopia after upheaval, generating consideration of a new political and social order. In both works, the reader is left to make meaning in a spatialized, affective framework wherein spectral melancholy is not necessarily tied only to mourning or loss but also to imagination, endurance, and ambiguity about the future, loosely in the vein of Fredric Jameson’s linking of death to utopia and Walter Benjamin’s vision of “mortification.”

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