Beyond biopolitics: reading Bolaño's human fragments
Modern Languages Open
Centre of Latin-American Studies, University of Cambridge
MetadataShow full item record
Merchant, P. (2015). Beyond biopolitics: reading Bolaño's human fragments. Modern Languages Open https://doi.org/10.3828/mlo.v0i0.61
This is the final version of the article. It was first available from Liverpool University Press via http://dx.doi.org/10.3828/mlo.v0i0.61
The fiction of Roberto Bolaño is filled with images of bodies in extremis: in situations of violence, sexual activity, illness and death. While bodily experience in Bolaño’s work has not received great critical attention, some of these bodies have achieved paradigmatic status, particularly among those critics who draw out the biopolitical implications of his writing. Chief among these are the corpses of the murdered women in Santa Teresa that litter the pages of ‘La parte de los crímenes’ in the posthumous novel 2666. Many critical accounts of this section of the novel view the corpses as evidence of the deadly power of the neoliberal order. These biopolitical readings of Bolaño's work are undoubtedly of value, and cannot be disregarded. Nonetheless, what follows here is born of a suspicion that the bodies in Bolaño's fiction provide, at best, precarious conduits for biopolitical reflection. Following the influential definition of biopolitics proposed by Michel Foucault, as ‘the entry of phenomena peculiar to the life of the human species into the order of knowledge and power’ (History of Sexuality 141), I will suggest that Bolaño in fact demonstrates the difficulty of maintaining the body within any order, and particularly within that of representation.
This work was supported by the AHRC.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/mlo.v0i0.61
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/249293