This essay examines Juan Benet's use of the metaphor of the penumbra, or half-light, in his theoretical writings on literature and in his short novel En la penumbra. Critics have written about the novel's metaliterary nature, extrapolating a theory of reading from the experience of the reader and the activities of the characters in the novel. The present essay expands on this interpretation by commenting on Benet's characterization of literature in La inspiración y el estilo and an essay from En ciernes, by examining the narrative structure, and by a close reading of what appears to be a marginal scene of telling, contar, in the novel. In addition, I explain how, in contrast to contemporary Spanish writers such as Juan Goytisolo, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio and Carmen Martin Gaite, the theory of storytelling, for Benet, is essentially linked to knowledge, and his reliance on the metaphorics of light and shadow is herein related to philosophical tradition (Plato, Nietzsche, Hans Blumenberg) and the mimetic poetics that informs Erich Auerbach's literary history of narrative
Telling (in) the Half-Light: Mimetic Poetics and Juan Benet's En la penumbraHispania
Citation InformationStephen D Gingerich. (2008). Telling in the Halflight: The Mimetic Poetics and Juan Benet’s En la penumbra. Hispania, 91(3), 579-578.