Como agua para chocolate – a pastiche of genres

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I’m interested in how criticism of Laura Esquivel’s Como agua para chocolate focused in on Esquivel’s (mis)use of genre. Critics have made a number of interesting comments on how her deployment of many genres works in the novel, Susan Lucas Dobrian being an example:

“As a postmodern parody, Como agua para chocolate represents a pastiche of genres. It is all-in-one a novel of the Mexican Revolution, a cookbook, a fictional biography, a magical realist narrative, a romance novel, and serial fiction. Amidst this generic slippage, the underlying element that ties these genres together within this novel are the assertions of femininity found in popular culture. Although on the surface Esquivel structures her novel as a popular romance, the generic hybridization and parodi stance open and free the novel from the restricted and hermetic formulas that tightly structure the typical romance narrative. Linda Hutcheon [-p.57] emphasizes this effect of parody when she posits modern parody as a liberating strategy that, rather than criticizing the original text, may instead be directed towards the social codes that enable such a narrative. Indeed, Esquivel adds a political charge by situating her narrative against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution. In doing so, the author both forges an underlying theme of rebellion, change, and momentum  in the gender politics of the novel, and confronts Mexican popular myths of femininity within the bloody conflict. By waging war, both literally and figuratively, between repression and liberation, a new story comes to light, or perhaps, better said, the same story is read in a new light.” (pp.56-57)

Ref: Susan Lucas Dobrian ‘romancing the cook: parodic consumption of popular romance myths in Como agua para chocolate.’ pp.56-66 Latin American Literary Review Vol. 24, No. 48 (Jul. – Dec., 1996)

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