Comedy in the construction of the novel So many reasons to hate Emilia, by José M. Fernández Pequeño | Accent
There are novels of tragedy, drama and comedy. I recognize that it is an incomplete reductionism, but for our present it will enjoy sufficiency. The fact that a novelized text falls into one of these three possibilities implies that it is based on the foundations of one of those forms of dramatic art for a well-known reason: theater is prior to the novel. In the following pages we will discuss So Many Reasons to Hate Emilia, by the mestizo author José M. Fernández Pequeño.
Many things can be said from a long-winded story from different points of view. On this occasion, given the evidence that we are facing a novel in which laughter is summoned on each of its pages, we will classify it as the type of comedy and, supported by the criteria of Antonio López Pinciano, from the end of the 16th century, We will show the way in which the text was constructed to house a discourse full of thoughtful characters or guatacas in which love, backroom machinations and that thing of devilish origin and to a certain extent deformed that is the Caribbean, throbs.
As a late-appearing genre, the novel had to feed aesthetically on the foundational experiences hackneyed by lyric and tragedy. Just as "tragedy was born from the epic and took the narration of people only", as Hugo a Pinciano commented around 1596 in the poetic Ancient Philosophy (López Pinciano, 2009, p. 31), it can be affirmed that in turn the novel took of the tragedy the narration of the people and made it his forte. Because of a novel text, no matter how brilliant its descriptions or how striking its fable may be, what will basically be remembered will be its characters, like communicating vessels or conducting threads of all events. In the case of So Many Reasons to Hate Emilia, the cast of characters makes up the shoe.
Initially, we might get the impression that the story will have a tragic tone. This is because in the first chapter there is a narrator conditioned by one of the most tragic aspects of modern man: heartbreak. “I did well not to hang myself or send any messages. Bye-bye, Emilia, there you stay with your husband's insect” (Fernández Pequeño, 2021, p. 34). And it is also because in the next chapter, "Kafka, sometimes", Dr. Marcos Soria Creek, an opposition actant, "did not wake up turned into a disgusting insect" (Fernández Pequeño, 2021, p. 35), but strangely dawns with their identity lost and, consequently, subjected to that terrifying daily tragedy that Orlando Martínez, glossing a document of the Oppositionist Bloc in 1973, calls the fear of the center: “It is a fear that has generated countless deaths, unspeakable suffering, unbearable anguish… It is fear number six, the fear of the center: the fear of losing goods” (Martínez, 1977, p. 18). Heartbreak and fear of misery would seem to be sufficient indications for a tragic story. However, to the extent that feelings and situations begin to add up, we move on to the tone that prevails decisively, albeit intermittently, throughout the novel: that of comedy.
It is convenient for us to return briefly to 1596 to see how, after also obtaining from the epic the narration of people, comedy was established as an autonomous aesthetic expression. Fadrique tells Pinciano (López Pinciano, 2009) that comedy is distinguished from tragedy and epic by delight and laughter. And it says more. Fadrique takes the route of differentiating it from tragedy to establish that comedy uses ordinary people; devoid of great fears caused by danger; does not have a sad ending; Its aims are not to rely on solid and troubled principles; It does not present a life from which one must flee, but rather follow; it is not based on history, but on the invented fable; and, lastly, that it does not demand a pompous style, but a low one. In short, that comedy differs from tragedy "through pastime and laughter" (López Pinciano, 2009, p. 107).
Starting from the continuous delight and jocularity that So Many Reasons to Hate Emilia produces, we will base ourselves on the way in which the tone of comedy is achieved in this novel, all based on the criteria of Alonso López Pinciano.
Another intertextual experience is produced in the manner of La vida está en otro parte, by Milan Kundera. Let us remember that, on one occasion, Jaromil and a group of poets held a debate with the public about the revolutionary spirit and love. At the moment when the discussion reaches its highest and most absurd level, a worker with a wooden leg takes the floor to ask why the bus stop has been moved away from the factory. This leads to an altercation that ends the debate. By way of adaptation and, in a certain sense, parodic transfer, we will find a similar gap in So Many Reasons to Hate Emilia. It happens in the middle of a discussion about the revolution and democracy. At the hottest moment, the discussion goes downhill:
the Cuban professor begins a combative differentiation between classical democracy, bourgeois democracy, democratic centralism, the demo... and it is precisely at that point that she raises a look of chaotic horror towards the ceiling, contracts her lips in an unequivocal sign of that the angels of devastation have begun their ascent from the bowels of the table. It is quite a spectacle to see how her nostrils quiver, her mouth twists, and she finally says what no Cuban could repress in such a trance:
—Gentlemen, what kind of fart have you made! (p.110)
The fucking intertextuality with passages of narrations of great universal recognition is possible because this novel is assumed from the orientation of comedy. Comedy, in the case of this narrative experience, provides the author with ample freedom to transform the story. For this reason, it is from comedy that the construction of this novel can be understood.
The absence of the pompous style, typical of tragedy and officious reporting, opens the way towards the expressive treatment of baseness. And at this point we can exemplify with an appreciation obtained on a notion of the Caribbean. It is a concept that works as a component to feed the fable. First, he creates a joke with the false demonym when he speaks "of those indigenous people whom Christopher Columbus converted into citizens of India" (pp. 63-64) and, therefore, "he adopted the voice of Christopher Columbus when he took possession of some of the Indies that they were not even Indian” (p. 72). With the same license of invention as the Admiral, the author will find a Caribbean area, Terre du Soleil, “a land poisoned with mysteries and excesses, like any island” (p. 23), where part of the story will take place. This imagined Caribbean will be spatially as present as any segment of Avenida 27 de Febrero in Santo Domingo. Because it is about a Caribbean as an uncertain reality: “voices that ask with the sagacity of a butcher if Guyana belongs to the Caribbean, or if Jamaican culture exists, or if the Martinican is not an extension of France, or if Terre du Soleil certainly has an identity of its own” (p. 138). In this novel, the Caribbean is taken up again as a territory floating in the water, populated by people whose only minimum common multiple "is the difference, there is no other possible identity among us than that of the different" (p. 95). It could, without a doubt, be said that the only serious discourse that exists in this novel is that of Caribbean identity, conceptualized as "a resonant and multiple existence" (p. 94). It goes without saying that, despite their sobriety and precision, these statements are tinged with scathing and mocking reflections.
In this area, it is not strange that the characters are always identified by their physiognomic features, as a testimony to "the explosive and unpredictable racial crossovers so common in the Caribbean" (p. 140). Each subject will be as far as it appears. The phenotypic trait will appear even in the most fleeting presences, as in, for example: “At the moment of going out into the street, a young white man, robust and with a very fine mustache, comes rushing in, plus a mulatto armed with a video camera” (pp. 235-236). In this authentic melting pot, the mestizo −whether mulatto or jabao− will reign as a variant of the chaotic. The color of the skin will be a mark that, in the Caribbean phenotype, will always point towards blackness, as in the case of the powerful businessman Marcos Soria Creek, who was already beginning to be betrayed by "the yellowish tone that the discoloration of the years causes in the skin of the mestizos, however hidden that condition may be” (p. 37), or in that of the Cuban teacher, in whom “the apocryphal white of her skin pales” (p. 53).
Perhaps as a denunciation −in case in the future the Me Too movement is released into these waters burned by the Caribbean sun− we are pleased to denounce that the narrator (and here we designate him in his current author status) makes towards his female characters a sexualized approach. Let's look at some sample buttons. Referring to the girl at the airline counter, he describes: "The girl is not ugly, maybe too white, but her skin offers a subtle texture on her ears and hands" (p. 24). Regarding the French official, he says: “Well, see, the ogre was (is) young, rather small, soft and harmoniously beautiful. A doll with princess inclinations, the common people of Pedro Antonio would say” (p. 146). Note that he even invents false and slanderous citations, while he treats the female as a "doll", thus taking the license to do whatever he wants with the characters. Of the clerk at the Los Muchachos store, he writes: “the woman in her light blue overalls is so ugly and skinny that when she says, can I help you? (p. 222). And if such evidence proves insufficient, Viviana says of her partner that she is “a stereotype with legs whom God endowed with all (absolutely all) the attributes that would embarrass a respectful lesbian. scant hair scant lips Scanty legs” (p. 32). In his time, the old Freud would vehemently affirm that in this narrator there is a drive that leads him to sexualize his female characters, unlike the talkative phenotypic approach he assumes when describing the male characters. In case any defender of women wishes to take corrective measures in this regard, I fulfill my duty as a citizen to report that they should address the author of these excesses, who is the subject known as Alatabó, presumed executive secretary of a supposed Council of Inferior Divinities.
Faithful to the criteria of Antonio López Pinciano, we can observe that Fernández Pequeño obtains three other elements of comedy to build his novel from a fucking position: that of lacking great fears caused by danger, that of not presenting a life of the one that must be fled, but followed, and that of not having a sad ending or relying on solid and troubled principles. Starting from back to front, we can say that the characters are stripped of principles. In this story, political, ethical or even artistic ideas are mere skirmishes that lack solidity. Without being shady, the intellectual criteria of the characters tend to be complacent positions, as can be seen in the cases of the defenses of the revolution by the Cuban professor or by the questionable attitude of solidarity of the French official when pretending that the artist cover the costs of moving a facility that has just made money supposedly to help victims of gender violence. In fact, part of the protagonist's reflections will constantly have to do with dismantling the false attitudes of the characters that surround him.
The ends of this novel are neither tragic nor sad. If you think about it, the closure constitutes a release from an enslaving loving feeling. Although the destination of the central narrative program is the search for love, and the recipient is the fullness of love in the form of the release, the final figure will be the liberation of that love: the real conquest will be the fullness of freedom of love in the release. It is, indisputably, a happy closing, in which Osvaldo Bretones manages to overcome the emotional state that imprisons him. In the end, he does not run away from his existential responsibility, but has used the outline of the speech to take the direction to follow on the path of life. The entire fable has been developed through a plot in which the danger of the actions has not destabilized the reader through the feeling of fear, but has opened the doors of meaning and reflection to rethink comedy with a critical and festive tone. staged in an indefinable space called the Caribbean.
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Finally, we have been able to see how the novel So many reasons to hate Emilia, by José M. Fernández Pequeño, acquires the constitution of laughter from the classical foundations of the novel, according to the considerations of Alonso López Pinciano around 1596 From this layout comes the stylistic strength of its textual fabric. On this framework a novel rich in intertextual resources is composed, in which the language is visited from its extreme levels, from the so-called cult to the one betrayed as vulgar, and the characters are incorporated without cleaning them of that baseness that makes them so human. The result has been a solid story, capable of satisfying both the need for fun and the interest in the hunt for good literary execution common to the most demanding readers. In short, this novel is a fresh window to watch love, passions and the map of the Caribbean from the comfort of the open page. It is a book in which, as one of its characters recommends, "laughing will always be better" (p. 55).
Fernández Pequeño, J.M. (2021). So many reasons to hate Emilia. Ediciones Furtivas.
Martinez, O. (1977). Microscope. Volume II.Editora Taller.
Pinciano, L.A. (2009). Epistles on dramatic art (Of Ancient Poetic Philosophy). UNAM.
Saramago, J. (2010). The flashes of death. Alfaguara.
Tomachevski, B. (1982). Theory of literature. Akal University.