(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The narrative focus of The Shipyard provides a closely detailed, agonizing, but simultaneously ironic inside view of Larsen’s doomed attempt to make a comeback and acquire respectability in the Santa Maria area, from which he was exiled five years earlier for his connection with a brothel there. Having returned to Santa Maria for a day at the beginning of the novel, Larsen goes upriver to Puerto Astillero and obtains the meaningless post of general manager of an idle shipyard. Its decayed plant is presided over remotely by its owner Jeremias Petrus. The only employees on hand are the administrators Galvez and Kunz, who do not receive their salaries and perform no work except occasional clandestine sales (for their own survival) of the rusted parts that remain from the days when Jeremias Petrus, Ltd., was a bustling enterprise.

Larsen throws himself into a senseless routine at the several degraded locales which provide the grotesque setting and the recurring chapter titles of the novel: Santa Maria, the shipyard, the summerhouse, the house, and the shack. At the shipyard, he pores over yellowing contracts and faded blueprints from times past and continually tells himself that a good managerial hand is all that is needed to set the phantom enterprise in motion again. Each afternoon, he visits the summerhouse of the Petrus estate in a comically decorous ritual of courtship with Petrus’s feebleminded daughter, Angelica Ines. From the grounds,...

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(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Adams, Michael I. Three Authors of Alienation: Bombal, Onetti, Carpentier. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1975. Adams presents a sociopsychological critical interpretation of three Latin American authors whose works share similar themes. Includes a chapter focusing on Onetti’s view of spiritual disillusionment as inevitable in the urban setting.

Ainsa, Fernando. “Juan Carlos Onetti (1909-1994): An Existential Allegory of Contemporary Man.” World Literature Today 68 (Summer, 1994): 501-504. A tribute to and biographic profile of Onetti as well as an analysis and evaluation of his work.

Jones, Yvonne P. The Formal Expression of Meaning in Juan Carlos Onetti’s Narrative Art. Cuernavaca, Mexico: Centro Intercultural de Documentación, 1971. An overview of Onetti’s narrative technique, use of language and voice. Includes a bibliography.

Kadir, Djelal. Juan Carlos Onetti. Boston: Twayne, 1977. Kadir provides a critical and interpretive study of Onetti with a close reading of his major works, a solid bibliography, and complete notes and references.

Lewis, Bart L. “Realizing the Textual Space: Metonymic Metafiction in Juan Carlos Onetti.” Hispanic Review 64 (Autumn, 1996): 491-506. Lewis compares Onetti’s style to Boris Pasternak. Lewis asserts that through his works, Onetti reveals that there are many openings to be filled in the fictional scheme because fictional characters live in a web of words.

Murray, Jack. The Landscapes of Alienation: Ideological Subversion in Kafka, Celine, and Onetti. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991. Includes a chapter on Onetti that explores The Shipyard and the psychological games the characters in the novel play on each other. Murray examines the ways in which the shipyard represents the state of the Uruguayan nation.

Murray, Jack. “Onetti’s El Astillero as an Ideological Novel.” Symposium 40 (Summer, 1986): 117-129. Examines the ideological perspective of The Shipyard.

Verani, Hugo J. “Juan Carlos Onetti.” In Latin American Writers, edited by Carlos A. Solé and Maria I. Abreau. Vol 3. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989. An essay on the life and career of Onetti. Includes analysis of his works and a bibliography.