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Abstract

This essay examines the concept of what I have termed “the restorative suicide,” a unique type of suicide which is arguably present throughout the poetry of the Chilean author Gabriela Mistral (pseudonym for Lucila Godoy Alcayaga), subtly serving as a reflection of her own struggles with insecurity in her early life. As a symbol of inspiration for the Latin American world, Mistral captures the dichotomous nature of life itself through her lyric works in reference to themes such as love and betrayal, pleasure and pain, hope and fear. In three selected works from her collections Ternura and Desolación, I establish the argument that Gabriela Mistral was experimenting with this “restorative suicide,” both within her writing and her life—that is, experiencing not a literal death, but a figurative, intentional, and poetic death that serves as a catalyst for the recovery of a new life, as well as a source of power and purpose. This analysis will suggest a metaphysical perspective for the interpretation of Mistral’s works and the extent to which a poetic voice is inherently linked to a poet’s life story.

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