Title

Letters, Lyrics and Cruise Ships: Re-visiting Colonial Travels through the Sexualized Bodies of the Caribbean in Mayra Montero’s La última noche que pasé contigo

Titles of the Individual Presentations in a Panel

Karen Williams-Jones

Subject Area

Hispanic Caribbean Studies

Abstract

The constant and obsessive theme of the bolero is love. The aesthetic of the bolero has been referred to as a type of “deseo hablado.” It is a game in which the listener momentarily transgresses the lines of sexuality and through imagination, the various intersections of racial, sexual, and ethnic identity. The dramatized lyrics of the bolero give rise to fields of polarized energy shifting between love and hate in Mayra Montero’s, La última noche que pasé contigo (1991). This “deseo hablado” interweaves the various passionate and impassioned personal stories that make up the novel. The bolero is the subtext that frames the cruise ship voyage of a middle-age married couple through the Caribbean islands following their daughter’s wedding.

During the cruise the characters adopt new identities, transforming themselves into the “Other” in order to feel pleasure and fear with greater intensity. They escape from the “modernity” of San Juan in order to penetrate the dark pre-colonial primitivism of the Caribbean Islands. In this way, Montero reinterprets the colonial travels and first encounters between Spaniards and Natives, in a way that is both ironic and erotic. The couple acts as conquistadors who invade, occupy, and take pleasure, however temporary in the dark space of the Other. These encounters which are nothing more than fleeting affairs with Haitian and Jamaican servants and workers produce both fear and passion in the couple. The realization of their most sensual desires serenaded by boleros produce a fear of the Other and of themselves, unveiling a crisis of identity that puts into question the intersection of gender, race, class and sexuality.

Brief Bio Note

Karen Williams-Jones is an Instructor of Spanish at Georgia Perimeter College. Prior to GPC she taught 10 years at Morehouse College. She holds Masters Degrees in Spanish from Purdue University and Yale University. She is ABD in Spanish and African American Studies at Yale.

Keywords

Caribbean literature, Intersectionality, Bolero, Eroticism

Location

Coastal Georgia Center

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

4-7-2016 9:40 AM

End Date

4-7-2016 9:40 AM

Embargo

11-8-2015

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Apr 7th, 9:40 AM Apr 7th, 9:40 AM

Letters, Lyrics and Cruise Ships: Re-visiting Colonial Travels through the Sexualized Bodies of the Caribbean in Mayra Montero’s La última noche que pasé contigo

Coastal Georgia Center

The constant and obsessive theme of the bolero is love. The aesthetic of the bolero has been referred to as a type of “deseo hablado.” It is a game in which the listener momentarily transgresses the lines of sexuality and through imagination, the various intersections of racial, sexual, and ethnic identity. The dramatized lyrics of the bolero give rise to fields of polarized energy shifting between love and hate in Mayra Montero’s, La última noche que pasé contigo (1991). This “deseo hablado” interweaves the various passionate and impassioned personal stories that make up the novel. The bolero is the subtext that frames the cruise ship voyage of a middle-age married couple through the Caribbean islands following their daughter’s wedding.

During the cruise the characters adopt new identities, transforming themselves into the “Other” in order to feel pleasure and fear with greater intensity. They escape from the “modernity” of San Juan in order to penetrate the dark pre-colonial primitivism of the Caribbean Islands. In this way, Montero reinterprets the colonial travels and first encounters between Spaniards and Natives, in a way that is both ironic and erotic. The couple acts as conquistadors who invade, occupy, and take pleasure, however temporary in the dark space of the Other. These encounters which are nothing more than fleeting affairs with Haitian and Jamaican servants and workers produce both fear and passion in the couple. The realization of their most sensual desires serenaded by boleros produce a fear of the Other and of themselves, unveiling a crisis of identity that puts into question the intersection of gender, race, class and sexuality.