Love & Law: The Aura of Prison Writing in Mexico, from the 1800s to the Present




Prison writing has largely been excluded from the literary canon of the Spanish-speaking world, even though it encompasses key names that extend as far back as Cervantes in Spain and Lizardi in Mexico: two of the pioneers of what is now called the “novel”. Building on seminal analyses of Latin American literature by Roberto González Echevarría, Ángel Rama and Doris Sommer, this article addresses the following questions: What is the power of prison writing? How might we interpret its status as a genre, both in historical and contemporary terms? And what do contemporary forms of prison writing share with much older examples? To answer these questions, we analyze prison narratives from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, including well-known novels by José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi and José Revueltas, and narratives by emerging writers from Susuki Lee, Águila del Mar, and Amatista Lee to Julio Grotten. Through an “auratic quality” that, we argue, derives from their ability to develop powerful counter-truths through the experience of confinement, these narratives reveal and resist the subjugation of the subject by the state as the latter intervenes violently in politics and private life. Our contention is that the power of prison writing lies in its ability to turn legal, state-sponsored discourse on its head through the production of alternative stories narrated from within prison and from below; and that these are simultaneously founded on legal discourse and its affective underside; on law and love.




How to Cite

Joey Whitfield, & Lucy Bell. (2024). Love & Law: The Aura of Prison Writing in Mexico, from the 1800s to the Present. Status Quaestionis, (26).