Horacio quiroga

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El amor, intrinsecamente considerado, llega
hasta excluir la estimacion.1
^Quien no ha perdido el equilibrio de sus
facultades, quien cree conservar la pureza del
tipo fisiologico?^
Horacio Quiroga is best known as a writer of carefully crafted short stories that
direct the reader firmly and economically towardsan often unexpected denouement.
Accordingly, it has been usual for some critics to highlight Quiroga's undoubted
diegetic skills, thereby endorsing the author's own views on the craft of writing
which he expressed in a few frugal articles for the press.^ Such an approach supports
an impression of Quiroga as a self-assured man in tight control ofhis art.
Other critics, notably the UruguayansAngel Rama and Emir Rodriguez Mone-
gal, have been less celebratory and tended instead to enquire beneath the surface of
Quiroga's writing so as to delve into a darker and more chaotic side. This essay
follows the latter avenue by studying Quiroga's treatment of love. Amor turbio is the
title Quiroga chose for his first novella of unhappy, conflictive, and guilt-ridden love,
published in 1908.The fact that the volume also included the second edition ofthe
long story about paranoia, 'Los perseguidos', is a significant coincidence, as both
Rama and Rodriguez Monegal noted during the igGos.'* My aim here is to explore
further the links between amor turbio and paranoia by bringing in some aspects of
Uruguayan culture dominant during Quiroga's time: in particular, notions of
sexuality.I open with a study of Historia de un amor turbio, Quiroga's first novel,
which, though little read by critics, provides the basic paradigm ofhis texts on love. I
then consider the relationship between heterosexual love and some texts on para-
noia which, as Rodriguez Monegal originally pointed out, could be read in terms of
homosexuality. Aided by some recent work on male homosexuality, Ishall propose
that paranoia and amor turbio are remarkably similar responses to prevailing
conceptions of relationships between men and women, and between men.
'Amor turbio': The Sadistic Demolition of an Idol
Amor turbio is based on a pendular movement between the images of woman as idol
and whore. Such a vision is of course a common one in Hispanic literature, as
•• Horacio Quiroga,'Pensamientos' (1896), in Obras ineditasy desconoddas de Horacio Quiroga, ed. by Angel
Rama and others, 8 vols (Montevideo: Area, 1967—73), viii (1973), 189. Henceforth I refer to this
collection by the abbreviation Obras, followed by the relevant volume in Roman numerals.
^ Horacio Quiroga, 'Aspectos del modemismo' (1899), Obras, viii, 50.
^ A recent example of such criticism is Roberto Paoli, 'Elperfecto cuentista: Comentario a tres textos de
Horacio Quiroga', Revista Iberoamericana, 58 (1992), 953—74. Quiroga's articles on ars poetica are collected
in Obras, vii.
•• In his prologue to Historia de un amor turbio (Montevideo: Biblioteca Artigas, 1968), Rodriguez Monegal
spoke of'el vinculo subterraneo que hay entre esta novela y el largo cuento "Los perseguidos'" (p.xv).
Angel Rama, forhis part, suggested that in Quiroga's work there is a thematic continuity centred on 'las
manifestaciones de la subjetividad': 'Por un lado tos suenos de ta razdn; por el otro, tas ensonadones det amor
turbio. Los encontramos en cualesquiera de sus libros, en cuota mas alta al comienzo pero presentes hasta
en los finales de la vida' {Obras, iv, 13).
920 'Amor tur bio'
highlighted in thesubtitle of Beth Miller's early collection of essays, Women in
Hispanic Literature: Icons and Fallen Idols.^ Feminists have suggested several explana-
tions for this enduring dichotomy in Western culture. Germaine Greer, noting that
'the act of undying adoration to the unenjoyed [is] effectively only the rejection ofthe
enjoyed', indicates a source in men's disgust about the body.* Other authors...
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