(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

A novel dating from late in Puig’s career, Pubis angelical continues his exploration of the politics of power and subjugation. In this case the power is held exclusively by males; those subjected to male power and desires are women. Puig dramatizes his concerns by focusing on three women from different cultures and times.

The novel’s structure reinforces the interrelatedness of the three women’s experiences. Instead of telling the women’s stories consecutively, Puig alternates sections of the three stories so that the novel forms a braid of narrative, a single thematic statement composed of three individual strands.

The first plot line concerns The Mistress, a beautiful Austrian actress recently married to a wealthy German munitions manufacturer (The Master). The Master keeps her a virtual prisoner until eventually she discovers that he has acquired her (she is little more than a possession) because he wants to learn about experiments in mind reading supposedly conducted by her late father. Eventually she escapes, falling in love with the man who aids her. She comes to believe that this man’s motives are no purer than The Master’s, murders her new love, falls in love again, suspects the motives of this third love, and finally is killed trying to escape.

The second plot line concerns Ana, an Argentine who has fled an unhappy marriage and the political problems in her homeland only to be hospitalized with cancer...

(The entire section is 469 words.)