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Inhospitable Text: Critical Dystopia in Los vigilantes by Diamela Eltit
Letras femeninas (2014)
  • Lila M. Carlsen, Pepperdine University

Diamela Eltit’s 1994 novel Los vigilantes uses dystopian discourse to demonstrate the means by which the state has manipulated power, gender, and linguistic relations in oppressive ways during the Transition Period in Chile. Although the dictatorial and post-dictatorial eras used and continue to use various methods of subjugation, Eltit maintains a critical stance towards the violent silencing of oppositional voices under hegemonic order. In this essay, I will explain how Los vigilantes uses dystopian discourse to create an inhospitable text by means of the following: (1) a critique of the Occidental tradition of letter-writing as a means to pinpoint dystopian abuses of power, (2) the use of the grotesque as a form of resistance, (3) a distortion of feminine or Pre-Symbolic discourse conveyed by the protagonists, and (4) a description of the dystopian “cultural residues” (as Nelly Richard would call them) as they relate to the rise and fall of the utopian alternative in the novel. In particular, this novel can be read as an example of dystopian literature— an exercise in representing oppression and silence placed upon human life in contemporary Chile. In this analysis, I propose that Los vigilantes privileges marginal voices and uses dystopian discourse to critique various forms of abuse present during the Chilean post-dictatorial period.

Publication Date
Winter 2014
Citation Information
Lila M. Carlsen. "Inhospitable Text: Critical Dystopia in Los vigilantes by Diamela Eltit" Letras femeninas Vol. 50 Iss. 2 (2014)
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