Motherhood and Childhood in Silvina Ocampo’s Works

Author(s) Fernanda Zullo-Ruiz

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism, Gender Studies

Series: Iberian and Latin American Studies

  • November 2023 · 240 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781837720750
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781837720767
  • · eBook - epub - 9781837720774

About The Book

The works of Argentine writer Silvina Ocampo (1903–93) are enjoying unprecedented attention from international scholars, writers, journalists, translators and film directors. This book explores the reason for the growing interest, and how it connects with her transgressive representations of motherhood and childhood. By overlapping themes from past scholarship (such as childhood, gender representations, the fantastic and sexuality), new and diverse issues intersect, contradict or revise previous interpretations of Ocampo’s works and her place in Argentine letters. Specifically, the much-overlooked mother/child dyad will offer a unique vantage point for this volume, bringing to the surface disparities concerning age, gender, sexuality, knowledge, agency and voice, often ignored or minimised in theoretical frameworks and popular narratives. This focus on the spaces of motherhood and childhood maps out Ocampo’s consistent refusal to prioritise one space over another, or to legitimise one voice over another, which highlights a radical theorisation of subjectivities in flux.


‘Fernanda Zullo-Ruiz brilliantly examines the tensions at work in Silvina Ocampo’s disturbing stories, without privileging either voice in the mother/child dynamic. Ocampo’s repudiation of idealised versions of both mother and child reflect her conscious challenge to the traditional literary representations of each, and Zullo-Ruiz persuasively conveys the “damage and treasure” that Ocampo’s stories repeatedly explore.’

Professor Emerita Patricia N. Klingenberg, Miami University

‘This sparkling book sheds important new light on the fascinating writing of Ocampo – stories of cruelty and dysfunction, but also of perverse kindness. The focus is on the relations of mothers and children…hierarchies are reversed, innocence shattered, and absence becomes the occasion for revenge. Zullo-Ruiz focuses on eight stories and a poem from Ocampo’s large corpus of writing, but what she has to say about them is suggestive of concerns of the work as a whole ...This is welcome addition to the scholarship on a
writer whose importance has been widely recognised after her death.’

Professor Daniel Balderston, University of Pittsburgh


Introduction: Silvina Ocampo Today
Section I: Mater
Chapter 1: Introductory Remarks on Motherhood
Chapter 2: The Dead Mother in ‘Rhadamanthos’
Chapter 3: The (Pro)Creative Mother in ‘El cuaderno’
Chapter 4: The Absent Egotistical Mother in ‘Las invitadas’
Chapter 5: The Mercenary Mother in ‘La furia’
Chapter 6: The GenderBending Mother of ‘Santa Teodora’
Chapter 7: Concluding Remarks on Motherhood
Section II: Filius
Chapter 8: Introductory Remarks on Childhood
Chapter 9: Childhood as a Race in ‘La raza inextinguible’
Chapter 10: Childhood in Reverse: ‘Cartas confidenciales’
Chapter 11: Childhood Rebellion in ‘La hija del toro’
Chapter 12: The Spatial Organization of Rape in ‘El pecado mortal’
Chapter 13: Concluding Remarks on Childhood
Conclusion: Mapping the Final Portrait of Mater et Filius

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Fernanda Zullo-Ruiz

Fernanda Zullo-Ruiz is Professor of Spanish at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, and co-edited the first English-language book of essays by international Ocampo scholars with Patricia N. Klingenberg.

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