Flâneurs in Flores: A Spatial Perspective on César Aira's Short Novels
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This thesis studies four novels of the contemporary, Argentinean writer César Aira from a spatial perspective. The theorethical framework for my analysis is based on studies that are inspired by geography, urban studies and sociology (e.g. Lefebvre, Soja, Bauman). Hence spatial and ‘social’ concepts are employed within a literary analysis. The themes Aira is interested in sometimes ‘support’ his postmodern (fragmented) narrative, but at other times, contradict the idea that Aira's work is overtly postmodern. Fragmentation, apathy and melancholy indeed characterize the postmodern, urban imaginary in Aira’s work. Yet, Aira’s characters - as modern flâneurs - at the same time all long for ‘experience’, 'cause and consequence', cross (social) borders and are interested in the (‘other’) marginal figures of the city. I therefore ‘displace’ Benjamin’s notion of the flâneur to Aira’s contemporary, literary urban setting. The Dutch critics Vermeulen and Van den Akker give a new name or label to the oscillation between the postmodern and the modern in their article “Metamodernism” (2010). I will argue that this oscillation is also present in Aira’s work. Moreover, my spatial viewpoint sheds light on Aira’s (debated) ‘realismo’, since the spatial perpective demands that the ‘real’, urban reality (of Buenos Aires’s neighbourhood Flores) is taken into consideration. This thesis constantly distinguishes between ‘real’ space and literary space. In a broader context, this thesis explores how a spatial perspective can be of value while analyzing contemporary literature.