Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

David Ferris

Second Advisor

Leila Gomez

Third Advisor

Annjeanette Wiese


Despite his indisputable fascination with words, Julio Cortázar frequently mentioned that he was [at] war with the language he had inherited. This war is nowhere more apparent than in his seminal work, Rayuela. Not only do his characters explicitly wage war against language but the text as a whole can be seen as a counterattack. This argument will examine the theoretical complexities that arise from a writer waging a war against his primary weapon. In order to do this, I will use several of Derrida’s key concepts and essays to examine both the theoretical issues at stake in this war and the actual modes of retaliation that manifest in Rayuela. Although Cortázar and Derrida have different points of departure, they both respond to the same problem in an analogous way. Although Derrida does not wage a war against language, it is my contention that both author and theorist respond to the problem of language by way of play. Cortazar is certainly known for his playful experimentation with language but in this argument, I focus on the ways in which Cortázar’s text opens up to play in the Derridean sense. In this way, play becomes his primary mode of retaliation in the war against language.