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Marsalis - April 2020: Writing Prompts

"By Night in Chile" Writing Prompts

You have been asked to read Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile. Please write an essay in response to one of the prompts below. Keep in mind that your essay should propose a thesis, present topic sentences, and offer analysis and textual support. Remember that it should be well-organized and grammatically correct.

N.B.  Have a look at this e-book titled Understanding Roberto Bolaño:


Topics for research paper

*** All essays must make use of AT LEAST 2 scholarly articles, one accredited source, and 1 other non-fiction reading from our course.

1. Birds and Metaphor – The role of birds, particularly pigeons and falcons, is central to the thematic meaning of Bolaño’s text. Examine the symbolic importance of animals in Urrutia’s journey.

2. Religion and Narrative – Bolaño frequently refers to both Christian and Greek mythology in By Night In Chile. Examine the significance of either, or both mythological systems in your essay. What effect do they have on the narrator, and what are we supposed to understand from these references?

3. Language and Metaphor – Translation can create as much dissonance between the author’s original work, as it can provide clarity. Examine this text AND the novel in its original language to show what is lost and what is gained from Chris Andrews translation of Nocturno de Chile. Does the text retain the same meaning?

4. PoliticsBy Night in Chile can be read as a political commentary on the transition from the Presidential Era to the Pinochet regime. What is Bolaño communicating to readers about the proximity of art to politics, and what does this reveal about the nature of compromise?

5. Create your own prompt – or revise the focus of one above to your liking. Must notify me in advance if you choose this option so I can OK your prompt.


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