Spectres, Politics and Poetics: Hamlet in the Poetry of Eugenio Montejo

Nicholas Roberts


Ghosts are never far from the surface in the work of Venezuelan poet Eugenio Montejo, concerned as it is with loss and its possible poetic restitution. Two of his poems are based around Hamlet and its spectral figure: "Hamlet Acto Primero" ["Hamlet Act One"] and "La hora de Hamlet" ["Hamlet’s hour"]. They draw attention to fundamental hauntings in Montejo’s writing and being. The Hamletian ghost at stake is initially that of a quasi-rural Golden Age, at times symbolised by Simón Bolívar, whose loss is linked to the emerging dominance of capitalism, against which the poet must fight. But the ghost is also that of the caudillo Juan Vicente Gómez, who haunts Venezuelan politics and society. The poet is, then, also called finally to finish off Gómez.  In Hugo Chávez, the poet sees both the continuation of essentially capitalist policies and the embodiment of Gómez’s ghost. But Montejo responds to the chance to exorcise this spectre with poetic silence. Is this a Derridean recognition that to speak is merely to respectralise the caudillo figure? Or does it suggest that opposition is not about expressing criticism or dissent, but about creating an alternative space: a poetic space?

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New Readings — ISSN: 13597485

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