Néstor Perlongher and the Poetics of Transvestism

Néstor Perlongher’s neobaroque poetry is charged with poetics of transvestism. At its core is a figure who embodies pure artifice through simulacrum, parody, and sensuality. The focus of this paper is Perlongher’s rioplatense neobarroso style, which is filled with parody and irreverence, and often includes deformed and grotesque elements. This neobarroso poetry will be read for its transgressive qualities, which are achieved primarily through artifice and hypersexuality. For Perlongher, neobaroque literature rejects a purely communicative function and becomes pure surface, or “language literature,” thus betraying the utilitarianism of the Latin American poetry that preceded it. Likewise, the transvestite subject that drives his neobarroso period is draped in excess and artifice with its clothing, makeup, and performance. 

The present study will emphasize the superficial and external elements of Perlongher’s poetics to demonstrate how, in his work, the body can be understood as an ethical and aesthetic performance. Perlongher’s transgender subjects take on the ephemeral Deleuzian becoming, whereby their existence challenges traditional, static, and lineal subjectivity. The transvestite and the male prostitute, or miché, are the physical embodiments of various Deleuzian concepts that Perlongher cites in his essays on the neobaroque. 

The neobaroque movement has often been dismissed as hermetic, esoteric, and vulgar. In response, I argue that Perlongher’s reliance on artifice can have significant polemic and transgressive implications, especially for individuals persecuted under authoritarian regimes, for whom allegory and artifice become modes of survival.

Track: 

  • Spanish American Studies