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A Comparative Study of the Triadic Relation Between Time, Identity and Language in the Works of Julio Cortázar, Marcelo Cohen and Nāgārjuna



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While current scholarship acknowledges the influence of Buddhist ideas on Julio Cortázar’s fiction, critical analysis of this element of his work does not often engage in depth with Buddhist thought. Buddhism is frequently characterised as something mystical or mythical when read in relation to the works of Cortázar. This approach leads to an insufficient reading of the highly important notion of the ‘centro’ in Rayuela (1963), whose symbolism, evoking a dynamic equilibrium, may be more successfully explored with closer reference to Buddhist philosophy. The Argentine author Marcelo Cohen has also engaged with Buddhist ideas in his works; his Buda (1990), a biography of the historical Buddha, testifies to this interest. Again, however, this aspect has not received full attention in critical scholarship. Given the importance of the use of negation in Cohen’s literature, comparing Cohen with Buddhist philosophy can enrich our understanding of many aspects of his works, such as his treatment of relationality. I have chosen to compare both Argentine authors with the Indian Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna, who is considered the founder of the Madhyamaka school, which is particularly associated with the theory of ‘emptiness’ (‘śūnyatā’). Nāgārjuna’s philosophy is cited directly in Cortázar’s poem ‘Canción de Gautama’ and Cohen’s Buda and informs a number of these writers’ other texts. The main body of the thesis is divided into three sections. These examine the triadic relation between time, identity and language, with each section focusing more on one of these three aspects in turn. The three chapters and three authors will be drawn together to form a new reading of the role of negation.





Page, Joanna


Julio Cortázar, Marcelo Cohen, Nāgārjuna, Madhyamaka Philosophy, Time, Identity, Language, Latin American Literature, Comparative Literature, Argentine Literature, Buddhism, Negation, Openness, Buddhist Philosophy, Rayuela, Un hombre amable, 62 modelo para armar, Orientalism, Sanskrit


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge