Though Horacio Quiroga is better known for his jungle tales, he was also a prolific film critic. Writing in the early days of silent cinema, Quiroga channeled his love for the new art into a series of four short stories about film: "Miss Dorothy Phillips, mi esposa" (1919), "El espectro" (1921), "El puritano" (1926), and "El vampiro" (1927). These stories not only reveal Quiroga's passion for the cinema, but also showcase the power of film to affect the spectator. The theoretical basis of my study comes from the Deleuzian concept of affect, being defined as the invisible force or intensity which exists in bodies and can also be transmitted between bodies that have differing capacities for acting on each other. In the case of the cinema, the film and the spectator are the two bodies that participate in this transmission of intensities. In the first chapter, I discuss how "El puritano" reveals that film's resurrected images can be more powerful than the originals. Then, I analyze "El espectro," which serves as an example of how film's mimetic qualities increase its power to affect spectators and produce in them visceral reactions. Particularly striking in this story is the filmic gaze of an on-screen actor, a gaze which transmits affect to the other characters. In the second chapter, I analyze "Miss Dorothy Phillips, mi esposa," particularly how it theorizes the erotic gaze of filmed actresses. Then I discuss "El vampiro," in which I study the relationship of two men with the filmed image of a beautiful Hollywood actress. In the story, an inventor is able to "move" film in such a way as to create a spectral woman who can interact with others. However, by the end of the story it becomes clear that it is the film—personified by this spectral woman—that holds the true power in this relationship of bodies.
College and Department
Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Stewart, Morgan Keith, "Bodies of Light: Affect and the Filmic Gaze in Horacio Quiroga's Cinema Stories" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 6377.
Horacio Quiroga, affect theory, film, the gaze, the look, the look back