Novelty and Artistry in Blasco Ibañez's Los argonautas (1914)
Christopher L. Anderson
This study of Blasco Ibáñez’s lengthiest acknowledged work demonstrates that it is a key text in the trajectory of his novels and in his evolution as a writer, one that marks significant differences both with those texts which precede it and those which follow, beginning with Los cuatro jinetes del Apocalipsis (1916). These differences are found in the novel’s themes, style, narrative technique, structure, and even in the makeup of its main characters.
Blasco is presented as a highly proficient weaver of tales who modifies his narrative technique to fit the needs of each chapter’s content and context. His novel stresses the importance of music and other sounds, and it highlights the use of mystery/suspense and juxtaposition as important aspects of his technique. Structurally, Los argonautas is found to be an open-ended novel which looks towards the future and has neither a rousing climax nor a traditional conclusion, a text whose openness to the unexpected encourages the very late appearance of characters, which contributes to its realistic slice-of-life feel. Los argonautas an increased interest on Blasco’s part in such abstract issues as the relationship of life/history with art/literature. And its main characters are not Blasco’s prototypical assertive fighters participating in the struggle for life and/or ideals. In terms of narrative technique (dual narration, where events in the present evoke those of the past), the makeup of central characters (laconic, hedonistic, and passive by nature), and style (where the predominant esthetic is Impressionism), Los argonautas is viewed as Blasco’s first attempt at writing an evocative notel of Impressionist ilk.
The books’ chapters illustrate how Blasco evolves as a thinker and as an artist in Los argonautas, and while each reaches its own conclusions, together they demonstrate that this novel merits further study.
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