“With a Wound that Doesn’t Bleed”: Death and Alterity in 20th Century Mexican Literature

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Death in Mexican literature has often been analysed in a sociological and historical way as a result of the death cult that is deeply imbedded in Mexican culture. This paper revaluates earlier interpretations of death in Mexican literature by analysing three canonical texts in which death has a central role: the volume of poetry "Nostalgia for Death" (1938, expanded 1946) by Xavier Villaurrutia and the two novels "Pedro Páramo" (1955) by Juan Rulfo and "The Death of Artemio Cruz" (1962) by Carlos Fuentes. The study examines how the texts reflect upon the process of writing and literature through the centrality of death. In that sense, the texts are not merely a manifestation of Mexico’s death cult, but moreover receive a self-reflective character. In order to demonstrate this, the paper relies on Maurice Blanchot’s essay “Literature and the Right to Death” (1949) in which he argues that death and literature are intrinsically linked.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDiana Castilleja (Promotor) & Douglas Atkinson (Co-promotor)


  • Mexican Literature
  • Carlos Fuentes
  • Xavier Villaurrutia
  • Juan Rulfo
  • Death in Literature

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