Kiss of The Spider Woman (novel)

Kiss Of The Spider Woman (novel)

Kiss of the Spider Woman (Spanish: El beso de la mujer araƱa) is a novel by the Argentine writer Manuel Puig. It is considered his most successful.

The novel's form is unusual in that there is no traditional narrative voice, one of the primary features of fiction. It is written in large part as dialogue, without any indication of who is speaking, except for a dash (-) to show a change of speaker. There are also parts of stream of consciousness. What is not written as dialogue or stream of consciousness is written as metafictional government documentation. The conversations between the characters, when not focused on the moment at hand, are recountings of films that Molina has seen, which act as a form of escape from their environment. Thus there are a main plot, several subplots, and five additional stories that comprise the novel.

The author includes a long series of footnotes on the psychoanalytic theory of homosexuality. The footnotes act largely as a representation of Puig's political intention in writing the novel: to present an objective view of homosexuality. The footnotes include both factual information and that given by the fictional Anelli Taub. The footnotes tend to appear at points of the greatest misunderstanding between Molina and Valentin.

The novel can be read as an indictment of a disengaged aesthetic perspective in the context of a world where people have to take sides. Valentin, the Marxist protagonist, has risked his life and willingly endured torture for a political cause, and his example helps transform his cell-mate into a citizen, someone who will enter the world. Likewise, Molina's love of aesthetics and cultural life teaches Valentin that escapism can have a powerfully utopian purpose in life: escapism can be just as subversive and meaningful as overt political activity.

The novel was adapted into a stage play by Puig in 1983 (English translation by Allan Baker). It was also made into a film (1985) and a Broadway musical (1993).

Read more about Kiss Of The Spider Woman (novel):  Historical Background, Plot, Characters, Criticism, Major Themes

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