Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Modern Languages and Literatures (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Hugo Achugar - Committee Co-Chair

Second Committee Member

Elena Grau-Lleveria - Committee Co-Chair

Third Committee Member

Tracy Devine Guzman - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Otavio A. Bueno - Committee Member


This dissertation investigates the narrative practice of Latin American Existentialism. My project tracks the structures, themes, and interpretations of Existentialism across national borders in the belief that a common expression exists which is distinctly Latin American. I begin this philosophical cartography, with four Existential(ist) novels produced in Latin America during the 1930s. Specifically, I will examine the Existentialist quality of Enrique Labrador Ruiz's El laberinto de si­ mismo (1933), Mari­a Luisa Bombal's La ultima niebla (1934) and La amortajada (1938), and Graciliano Ramos's Angustia (1936). These narratives are analyzed in relation to the core thematic of Existential philosophy. I read these narratives as Existential(ist) because they are of, relating to and characterized by a philosophy of existence, and because they simultaneously produce an Existential discourse. My study is, at one level, comparative in that I pursue the points of emergence of Existentialism's prominent categories not only across national borders, but also across disciplines. I relate the tradition of Latin American thought in the first half of the 20th century and Existential philosophy from Europe to collectivize the thematic points of contact. These I contrast with our literary production of the 1930s. By emphasizing the particularities and continuations of Latin America's contribution to the Existential canon I, in effect, periodize an era which is foundational in the history of Latin American literature. Furthermore, by acknowledging the literary presence of Latin American Existentialism we can appreciate the explicit narrative interrogation of the Self through aesthetic, ethical, and ontological parameters.


Latin American Philosophy; Cuban Literature; Chilean Literature; Brazilian Literature; Latin American Literatures