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Reading: Rewriting the Biracial Love Story in Rosa María Britton’s Esa esquina del paraíso

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Scholarly Article

Rewriting the Biracial Love Story in Rosa María Britton’s Esa esquina del paraíso

Author:

Frances Jaeger

Northern Illinois University, US
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Abstract

While nineteenth-century Latin American foundational fictions sought racial and social harmony through the genre of romance, by the twentieth century these biracial love story tropes are subject to intense scrutiny. Panamanian novelist Rosa María Britton’s drama, Esa esquina del paraíso (1986), as analyzed with new approaches, produces a critical reassessment by reframing these established narratives in ways that reveal significant cracks in the creole elite’s optimistic view of romance as a means to bridge social and racial divides. By comparing the play’s biracial protagonist, Eugenia/Jenny, with the tragic mulata heroine prototype of the classic Cuban novel, Cecilia Valdés (1839), differences between the two characters expose crucial shifts and innovative positions. The established tropes that worked so well in the elite’s vision of racial harmony become ineffectual acts of mimicry. With startling frankness Esa esquina del paraíso presents a woman-centered retelling of a traditional male discourse which, while not leading to the proposed goal of economic stability and personal fulfillment for the female protagonist, does uncover significant limitations in nineteenth-century imaginings of race and class.

Las ficciones fundacionales latinoamericanas del siglo diecinueve buscaban establecer la armonía racial y social por la vía del romance; en el siglo veinte, en cambio, la puesta en escena de historias del amor racialmente híbridas empezaron a ser cuestionadas. Este estudio del drama Esa esquina del paraíso (1986), de la novelista panameña Rosa María Britton, emplea nuevos acercamientos críticos que desacreditan la visión optimista de las élites criollas hacia el romance como mecanismo de superación de las divisiones sociales y raciales. Si comparamos la protagonista del drama panameño, Eugenia/Jenny, con la prototípica heroína mulata de la novela clásica cubana Cecilia Valdés (1839), descubrimos cambios significativos. La eficaz representación de la armonía racial que proyectaba el discurso de la élite, es vista aquí como mimetismo del subalterno. Esa esquina del paraíso nos enfrenta a una audaz y directa reelaboración ginocéntrica del discurso tradicional masculino que revela importantes limitaciones del imaginario decimonónico respecto a raza y clase, si bien no alcanza la meta proyectada de la estabilidad económica y realización personal de la protagonista femenina.

How to Cite: Jaeger, F., 2020. Rewriting the Biracial Love Story in Rosa María Britton’s Esa esquina del paraíso. Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies, 4(1), pp.124–141. DOI: http://doi.org/10.23870/marlas.301
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Published on 30 Jun 2020.
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