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Reading: Diamela Eltit: A Gendered Politics of Writing


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Research article

Diamela Eltit: A Gendered Politics of Writing


Mary Green

University of Manchester, GB
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In her article, Mary Green discusses the literary project of Diamela Eltit, Chilean writer and activist whose work spans the years of the Pinochet regime (1973-1990) and the present period of redemocratisation. Eltit uses writing and language as an explicit means of protesting against the political, social and cultural transformations of her country. The political and the aesthetic are closely linked in her writing as literary experimentation provides one way of commenting on what Eltit styles the category of the ‘feminine’, a term which applies to all those oppressed by present and past hegemonic systems of power. Green begins by examining cultural responses to the Pinochet dictatorship and provides an overview of Eltit’s involvement in neo-avant-garde movements, along with the theoretician, Nelly Richards. For Green, Eltit’s denunciation of the authoritarian regime of the Pinochet era was founded on an important critique of patriarchal values, values which Green reads as constitutive of the moral legitimacy the regime proclaimed for itself. Green looks in detail at some of the linguistic strategies developed by Eltit and in particular the emphasis on motherhood, violence and the voices of the excluded and disappeared. As an example of the meeting of these concerns, the article analyses the problematic of memory in Eltit’s novel, Los vigilantes (The Guardians, 1996). She focuses on the figure of a mother, Margarita, who houses the silent destitute in a gesture of solidarity with those others wish to erase from comforting images of Chile as a democracy. As Green persuasively argues in her conclusion, Eltit demands that the reader too engages with the politics of exclusion in contemporary Chile ‘constructing meaning through the process of reading rather than accepting as "natural" or transparent that which appears in writing’.
How to Cite: Green, M. “Diamela Eltit: A Gendered Politics of Writing”. New Readings, vol. 6, 2000, pp. [54–65]. DOI:
Published on 01 Jul 2000.
Peer Reviewed


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