The body beautiful and the abject: a look into the manifold mirror of age

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This project studies four novels by Rosa Montero, Te trataré como a una reina (1983), Bella y oscura (1993), La hija del caníbal (1997), and Instrucciones para salvar el mundo (2008), as well as four novels by Agnès Desarthe, Cinq photos de ma femme, (1998), Les bonnes intentions (2000), Mangez-moi (2006), and Dans la nuit brune (2010). This dissertation examines the representations of aging in these novels through the lens of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of heteroglossia and Julia Kristeva’s theory of the abject. I consider the effects of cultural constructs of age and aging on: how the elderly characters are depicted; how the characters describe their own aging and that of others; the interpretation of reflections in literal and figurative mirrors; the obsession with youth in Western cultures; and the sexual identity of female characters. I will take an in-depth look at how identity, self-perception, and sexuality are linked to the aging body.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Romance literature