Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Spanish & Portuguese

First Advisor

Peter Elmore

Second Advisor

Juan Pablo Dabove

Third Advisor

Leila Gómez

Fourth Advisor

Leila Gómez

Fifth Advisor

Juan Carlos Galdo


The autobiographical discourse is currently a topic of enormous disputes in the literary field. One of the most intense discussion has to do with the true reference value of this discourse. From post structuralism, critics like Paul de Man and Roland Barthes questioned seriously, between 1970 and 1990, this aspect of autobiography. In recent years, however, there is renewed interest in exploring the place of autobiography in the spectrum of narrative genres. This thesis adopts the idea that autobiography is still able to maintain some ties to referentiality. And while acknowledging that the mediation of language and memory make it impossible for a faithful representation of the experience, there are areas of autobiographical discourse that still offer the reader some sense minimum guarantees. In this thesis we contrast the questions of de Man and Barthes with other positions, such as Philippe Lejeune, Paul Eakin or James Olney, who seek to rescue referentiality. In this context, my dissertation explores four autobiographical texts from the Peruvian tradition: Mucha suerte con harto palo (1976) de Ciro Alegría; El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo (1971) de José María Arguedas; El pez en el agua (1993) de Mario Vargas Llosa, and La tentación del fracaso (1992-1995) de Julio Ramón Ribeyro. The purpose of this research is to describe the strategies of representation of the authorial figure that underlie this corpus, based on one premise: what really matters in these texts is not the memory of the experience, but the sense that the experience acquired in the reading. Each of these texts presents specific problems and together, they constitute an invitation to the discussion of a topic that, at least in the Peruvian literary criticism tradition, is starting to show its first results.