Mobility and the Modern Intellectual: Translated Images from Early 20th-Century Literary Works in Spanish by Carmen Lyra and Luisa Luisi

Laura Kanost

Abstract


This essay juxtaposes original translations of contrasting images from the novel En una silla de ruedas [In a Wheelchair] by Costa Rican writer Carmen Lyra and Poemas de la inmovilidad [Poems of Immobility] by Uruguayan writer Luisa Luisi to reveal how representations of intellectuals who are paralyzed might complicate discourses of the artist, social hygiene, and eugenics in early 20th-century Spanish America. Lyra portrays her protagonist's paralysis as a tragedy, but his disability is also the source of social mobility that allows the novel to depict marginalized members of Costa Rican society. Luisi contests modernista aesthetics of perfect forms, countering with a multifaceted exploration of inner space enabled by physical stillness. Through their depictions of hospitals, asylums, and sanitariums, both writers bear witness to bodies the modernizing project would prefer to hide, and imagine alternative forms of progress.


Keywords


Carmen Lyra; En una silla de ruedas; Luisa Luisi; Poemas de la inmovilidad; 20th-century Costa Rican literature; 20th-century Uruguayan literature; modernismo; modernity; paralysis; wheelchair; intellectual; translation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v38i1.5861

Copyright (c) 2018 Laura Kanost

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