23 Jan 2013: CEES Seminar

Published: 13 September 2012

Dr Christine Hüttinger: 'Converting History in Literature: The Case of Trotsky´s Exile in Mexico'

Converting History in Literature: The Case of Trotsky's Exile in Mexico

Dr Christine Hüttinger (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Azcapotzalco, México)

5.30pm (tea and coffee from 5pm), Central and East European Studies Seminar Room, 8-9 Lilybank Gardens


Trotsky's exile in Mexico provoked many a writer to write about him, an interest which resides in the importance of his personality as one of the leaders of the Russian Revolution, the violent circunstances of his death, the persecution he suffered from Stalin´s agents and the background of world history. The interest in Trotsky may also be located in the fact that Trotsky himself was a writer and literary critic who in his book Literature and Revolution (1924) analyses very sharply the literary production of his time and formulates, at the same time, the tasks of a future socialist literature, created beyond the bonds of class.

It is true that recent researches emphasize the theme of the exiled, their living conditions and their history, recovering literary works threatened by not having access to publication, but the theme of exile itself in literature has not received too much attention up to this point.

The main interest of the present paper is to analyze how an historical fact or literature and what resources does literature use to present a fact in a new way of speech or discourse, differentiating it thus from the discourse type which is proper/typical to history. In this context, it interests me what is the political and historical context on the background of which the literary works to analyze are written. I am going to touch four different authors, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Peter Weiss, Octavio Paz and Leonardo Padura, two of them are Cuban, one Mexican and one is German. Among these writers are to be found different motivations for writing on this topic and the range varies from empathy with the personality of Trotsky due to the own personal situation (Leonardo Padura), the compromise with the ones history has forgotten and excluded (Peter Weiss), to secure the path of the own ideological construction (Octavio Paz) or to unmask/expose a fictitious reality by means of parody (Guillermo Cabrera Infante).

All welcome.

The CEES West Coast Seminar Series is supported by the MacFie Bequest, named after Professor Alec MacFie, Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at the University from 1945 to 1958. 

Enquiries: Ammon.Cheskin@glasgow.ac.uk, +44 (0)141 330 2845/5585

First published: 13 September 2012