From Athens to Managua: Myth and sacrifice in Michele Najlis' Cantos de Ifigenia
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Shaughnessy, Lorna. (2012). From Athens to Managua: Myth and Sacrifice in Michele Najlis' Cantos de Ifigenia. Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 89(8), 883-904. doi: 10.3828/bhs.2012.65
Michele Najlis is a Nicaraguan poet whose work emerged alongside the Sandinista insurrection. The Sandinistas were removed from office in 1990, creating, in political and cultural terms, one of those 'boundary situations' outlined by Paul Ricoeur, when a community will 'return to [...] that mythical nucleus which ultimately grounds and determines it' (Ricoeur 1982: 262). In 1991, Najlis published her collection Cantos de Ifigenia, which mines that mythical nucleus. This article reads Najlis' collection in the light of hermeneutic theory and classical myth, and situates it as a conscious reworking of the Iphigenia myth and an exploration of the dynamics of sacrifice in Sandinista Nicaragua. It examines the profound sense of war-weariness that Najlis' Iphigenia shares with the dramatizations of Iphigenia by Euripides and Aeschylus in fifth-century BC Athens. Ricoeur's reflections on myth and 'the recreation of language' are presented as a possible explanation for Najlis' use of classical mythology in her work at this time.