By Pamela Finnegan
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Additional info for The tension of paradox: José Donoso's The obscene bird of night as spiritual exercises
As a satire it negates the possibility of the attainment of these goals. The tools of satire must be the conventionalized language of the institution being satirized. This is language made ironic, that is, distanced and reflective. Language used ironically is used critically, even self-critically, no longer naively. I suggest that this is exactly Donoso's position vis-à-vis language in The Obscene Bird of Night. His naive romantic emplotment, carried out through the use of nouns, verbs, figures of speech all socially canonized, is upended and exposed as naive through the syntactical textual arrangement of these linguistic elements.
However, this final darkness must be deciphered "in the light of" paradox. If it is indeed legitimate, and I believe it is, to use White's methodology to establish "what kind of a story" The Obscene Bird of Night is, then White's own words must be heeded: Romance and Satire would appear to be mutually exclusive ways of emplotting the processes of reality. The very notion of a Romantic Satire represents a -4- contradiction. I can legitimately imagine a Satirical Romance, but what I would mean by that term would be a form of representation intended to expose, from an Ironic standpoint, the fatuity of a Romantic conception of the world.
Donoso's novel is basically the "linguistification" of two worlds: the secular and the sacred, the Rinconada and the Casa, the worlds "outside" and "inside," the worlds of Humberto and Mudito. The language of the novel is seemingly "uncontrolled" and selfdestructive. Through the repeated use of "it may be," "as if," "it should be," and other similar open-ended, conjectural phrases, Donoso multiplies and convolutes the basic elements of his novel until everything is possible and nothing is certain.