Isabel Allende Writing Themes For Dissertation

Could we ever equate something like greatness—or more specifically talent? We humans instinctively clap our hands at something that we appreciate, but is an applause enough. One way of determining greatness of an individual is through awards. And out of all the awards, one of the most prestigious and highly-coveted is the Nobel Prize. To be awarded a Nobel Prize would mean fame for the winner. But perhaps more significantly, it is the recognition that is more satisfying for the recipient.

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Isabel Allende is considered to be one of the brightest contemporary writers. She is one of the women writers from Latin America who were able to achieve worldwide readership. In many respects, her contribution to the Latin-American literature cannot be overlooked. As a testament to her success, she had been awarded many literary awards. This leads us to the query: why such a talented writer like Isabelle Allende is still not given a Nobel Prize for Literature Award?

Since 1901, The Nobel Prize is awarded to a recipient once a year. A notable trait of the Nobel Prize is that it is awarded to a recipient of any nationality. There are a set of judges that will determine who will win the award. Their criteria for judging would be in line with the terms of Alfred Bernhard Nobel’s will: the Nobel Prize in Literature should be awarded to the writer who has created “the most distinguished work of idealistic tendency.” It appears that of the criteria for judging a work has much to do with the idealism within the piece.

Isabel Allende became known for writing stories that are oozing with idealism. She is generally regarded as one of the most nationalistic writers for Latin America. That is not to mention that her works are aesthetically exquisite. Her stories are mostly about lives of the people, the culture, and the mythologies of Latin America. She became famous by portraying the political and gender struggles of Latin America. Some of her best known works that are the political and gender struggles within Latin America are the novel “The House of Spirits” (1982) and the short story “An Act of Vengeance.”

In many sense, her writing could also be considered loyal to her culture. It is agreed by many literary critics that she had continued a tradition that the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, also a Latin-American, had popularized. Both Marquez and Allende’s writing style exhibits much of the writing style called “magic realism.” Basically, in this particular literary genre, magical and mystical things are being treated as normal, as real. And because of the success of Latin-American writers in using this particular genre, magic realism is closely associated with Latin-American literature.

Additionally, maybe just like Marquez, she had become a representative of Latin America to the world. Her portrayal of the Latin American culture and beliefs in her stories makes other cultures understand the Latin Americas better.

Moreover, what makes Isabelle Allende exceptional is the context of her chosen field. It would be gender discrimination to say that there are only a select few women writers that excel in the literary field. There are so many great women writers such as Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, and many more. But Allende is one of the few women writers that come from Latin-America. In some respects, she faces two challenges as a writer, both having to with her being a woman. It is not uncommon to us that the literature and most societies, especially in the Latin-Americas, are male dominated.


Isabelle Allende’s contribution to the Latin-American literature, even to the culture is certainly cannot be dismissed. She really deserves an award for her achievements and contributions to literature—but maybe now is not the time for her to receive a Nobel Prize For Literature.

It would be important to consider that many other great writers also never received a Nobel Prize Award in Literature. To name some of them, James Joyce, Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, Henry James, are just some of the great writers that were not recognized by the Nobel Prize. Even the world-renowned Ernest Hemmingway almost did not win a Nobel Prize.

But even though Isabelle Allende would not receive a Nobel Prize in Literature immediately, she should be handed the award someday. Her love for her homeland just shines through her works—works that are being read and loved by literature enthusiasts around the globe.

Works Cited

  • Bloom, Harold (editor). Isabel Allende. PA: Chelsea House. 2003.
  • Isabel Allende (1942-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights.
  • Hart, Patricia, Narrative Magic in the Fiction of Isabel Allende, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (Teaneck, NJ), 1989.
  • Nomination for the Nobel Prizes. Retrieved 7 June 2008

During the 1960s, Chilean novelist Isabel Allende was fired from a job translating romance novels into Spanish after it was discovered that she was altering the dialogue of the female characters to make them sound more intelligent. Allende quickly turned to creating intelligent female characters of her own and has gone on sell more than 56 million books, which have been translated into more than 30 languages and have won multiple awards in Chile and throughout the world. Allende is most famous for her literary novels – such as The House of the Spirits and Eva Luna – which often incorporate elements of magic realism and autobiography. Her prose style, illustrated in the following quote from The House of the Spirits, is both poetic and precise: “She had begun with dogs, cats and butterflies, but soon her imagination had taken over, and her needle had given birth to a whole paradise filled with impossible creatures that took shape beneath her father’s worried eyes.” Allende’s most recent book is the mystery novel Ripper.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

Show up. Show up in front of the computer or the typewriter. And if I show up long enough – it happens.

How has that helped you as a writer?

When I started writing, I always had the feeling that the book was like a gift – that it would just fall in my lap like an apple, or something. So I almost had the feeling that it wasn’t going to happen again. That I had written The House of the Spirits, and that was it. Or I had written the second or third book, and that was it. But what I have learned in time, in 32 years of writing, is that it’s a lot of work, and if I just show up, and I work and work, there is a moment, a magical moment, at some point, when it gives. And then you don’t need the effort anymore. It’s like dancing. When you’re dancing and counting the steps, you’re not dancing. When your body just goes — then you’re dancing, and then there’s a rhythm, there’s a velocity, there’s a feeling, there’s a joy that you cannot describe. And it happens in spite of me. I think that’s the moment in writing when the book starts to happen. From that point on, it’s all joy. At the beginning, it’s work.

You can’t get to that moment without just showing up?

Showing up and being patient. I can hit my head against the wall, because it’s not happening. But just keep going. Keep going. And it happens.

Gabriel Packard is the associate director of Hunter College’s creative writing MFA program in New York City.

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