Form without borders: The micro-relato in Latin America

Date of Completion

January 1999


Literature, Comparative|Literature, Latin American




This dissertation compares work by Brazilian and Hispanic American authors in order to investigate commonalities between writers of micro-relatos from both linguistic areas. This new genre, distinct from other short forms such as the prose poem, the parable, and the short story, has received increasing critical attention in recent years, and its comparative study offers a unique opportunity for the critic. ^ The dissertation begins from a genre studies perspective, and considers previous critical work regarding the micro-relato and its authors before breaking new ground. I analyze the micro-relato in its historical and cultural context, in comparison to related or neighboring genres from previous times or from other cultures. I find the unique characteristics of the genre in its effect upon the reader and in its incorporation of elements, materials, and techniques from medieval genres. ^ In addition to providing a discussion of the genre's development and characteristic features, I present a panorama of its practitioners in Latin America as a whole. I then embark upon an in-depth study of four principal authors: Marina Colasanti, Eno Theodoro Wanke, Augusto Monterroso, and Juan José Arreola. I analyze two principal works from each author, focusing on their renovation of the medieval genres of the fable and the bestiary as well as their presentation of the principal features of the micro-relato . ^ In the conclusion, I consider the societal and philosophical significance of the new genre of the micro-relato. I address the question of postmodernity as it relates to Latin America, and consider the similarity between postmodern and medieval philosophy and aesthetics. I conclude with a discussion of the valuable perspective on Latin American society the micro-relato may offer to readers from other cultures. ^