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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Stephen Buttes


Department of International Language and Cultural Studies


This research demonstrates the ways in which the work of Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar on the topic of the anxiety of authorship within female writers provides a legitimate and robust framework for exploring women's literary development in Chilean literature. By studying María Luisa Bombal's novella The Final Mist (1935) alongside Pia Barros’ short story "Scents of Wood and Silence" (1991), this research demonstrates how two female Chilean authors, linked through time by genre, metaphor, and style, offer a unique image of the struggle of women writers against the anxiety of authorship and inferiorization instigated by the patriarchal literary tradition. Gilbert and Gubar argue that female writers must seek out literary foremothers in order to legitimize their art. This paper utilizes Gilbert and Gubar’s framework to explore the ways in which Barros' short story interacts with Bombal's novella as a literary foremother. It does so primarily by analyzing the shared metaphors present in the stories, such as the portrayals of phantom men as embodiments of the unique female experience and creation, with male partners being presented as representations of a male dominated literary culture. It also engages in the shared styles of writing, focusing on the way in which the authors demonstrate the longing for language by their emphasis on silence, which also serves as a depiction of the struggle of the woman writer against her male precursor within Gilbert and Gubar's framework. Lastly, this research investigates the ways in which both Barros and Bombal used genre to expand the literary canon, blurring the lines between male points of view, which demand reality be considered transparent and objective, and the experiences of the female protagonists who incorporate and legitimize hidden, subjective experiences as a valid form of narration.


Modern Languages

Phantom Fictions: María Luisa Bombal, Pía Barros and the Anxiety of Authorship