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By the Grace of God

By the Grace of God: Francoist Spain and the Sacred Roots of Political Imagination

Series: Toronto Iberic
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 272
  • Book Info
    By the Grace of God
    Book Description:

    Though neither king nor priest, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco nevertheless conceptualized his right to sovereignty around a political theology in which national identity resembled a sacred cult. Using Franco's Spain andla España sagradaas a counterpoint to European secularity's own development,By the Grace of Godis the first sustained analysis within Spanish cultural studies of the sacred as a political category and a tool for political organization.

    William Viestenz shows how imagining national identity as a sacred absolute within a pluralistic, multicultural state leads to dictatorship, scapegoating, and exceptional violence. Using novels and poetry from the Catalan literary tradition and stalwarts of the Castilian canon, his analysis demonstrates that the sacred is a concept that spills over into key areas of secular political imagination.

    By the Grace of Godoffers an original theory of the sacred that challenges our understanding of twentieth-century political thought.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6858-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 Introduction: La España Sagrada as a Political Category
    (pp. 3-19)

    “Francisco Franco, Caudillo de España, por la gracia de Dios.” This inscription appeared on Spanish coins throughout the Francoist dictatorship, which officially lasted from 1939 until theGeneralísimo’s death in 1975. Neither king nor priest, Franco nevertheless conceptualized his right to sovereignty around a political theology. As the Caudillo articulated in a 1942 speech to the Frente de Juventudes, greatness and decadence always coincide with the union or divorce of the spiritual and national (Díaz-Plaja 116). A modern-day manifestation of a monarchical divine right, Franco’s mission to frame Spain as the last bastion of Catholic ideals appeared to replicate a...

  5. 2 “He aquí una plenitud española”: Catholicism, Cultural Regeneration, and Spanish Essentialism
    (pp. 20-31)

    Francisco Franco consolidated his sovereign power around what Anthony Smith would call a national communion of Catholicism, with the Spanish Civil War being interpreted not as a rebellion but, rather, the start of a crusade. “La gloriosa cruzada nacional” was meant to maintain Spain as the last bastion of the Catholic faith, plotted against the rabid atheism of the Soviet Union, Moorish Islam, and the religious pluralism of the West. I have framed Franco’s advocating of political theology as a corollary to democratic liberalism’s uneven development, which is only now, with the emergence of post-secularism, becoming an object of study....

  6. 3 Politics by Other Means: The Sacred Core of Collective Imagining
    (pp. 32-65)

    Joan Sales’sIncerta glòriastands alone by virtue of being a post-1939 interpretation of the Spanish Civil War from the defeated side published in Catalan. In addition, the concluding chapters of the novel, which are set years after the conflict, ruminate on the violent scapegoating inherent within Franco’s self-coined post-war “peace.”Incerta glòriais not only a superior representation of the war and its aftermath within the Catalan tradition but is concomitantly one of the most ideologically balanced works of literature published in Francoist Spain. On a Continental level, the novel captures a general mood within post-war Europe questioning the...

  7. 4 Intimate Strife: Inside Juan Goytisolo’s Sovereign Exception
    (pp. 66-90)

    The title of Juan Goytisolo’s 2007 collection of essays,Contra las sagradas formas, neatly sums up a destructive attitude that characterizes much of his writing: the annihilation and adulteration of Spain’s most iconic imagery and its most cherished literary forms. InContra las sagradas formas’s introduction, the Goytisolo of the twenty-first century is referring to a process of literary creation that demands an ambivalent relationship to the past, an attitude that encapsulates both an obliteration of one’s precursors and a respectful mimesis of their work. This, in Goytisolo’s opinion, is Picasso’s approach toLas meninas: “La anomalía del inventor rebelde...

  8. 5 The Eternal Present of Sacred Time
    (pp. 91-116)

    The works of Joan Sales and Juan Goytisolo assert the opprobrious human costs that come at the expense of sacralizing nation-space. Sales’s thought sketches the relationship between metaphysics and the psychological thirst for a fixed belief structure on which to ground existence. Fixed belief structures, when disrupted, tend to employ a victimary mechanism that scapegoats innocent bystanders in an effort to quell violence, which demands a structure of the nation based on a friend/enemy distinction where the Other is never denied his humanity.Conde Julián, for its part, is a tragic reminder of the violence engendered by exclusion and social...

  9. 6 “De-sacralization” and “Sacro-genesis,” or How to Step Outside of Sacred Time
    (pp. 117-144)

    As a literary evaluator for Gallimard in the 1960s, Juan Goytisolo was charged with selecting which post-war Spanish novels were to be translated and published by the French editorial house. Joan Sales’sIncerta glòriawas one such choice. The most glaring omission from the series, according to Goytisolo, was Luis Martín-Santos’sTiempo de silencio: “La única ausencia significativa y lamentable del cuadro es la de Martín-Santos: su novela me llegó con retraso” (qtd in Lázaro 291). Goytisolo, in any case, was undoubtedly familiar with the work prior to publishing his Mendiola trilogy, so familiar that it may have been his...

  10. 7 Espriu’s Sepharad and the Equitable Restoration of Sacred Sovereignty
    (pp. 145-176)

    The notion of sacrifice permeates the entirety of Salvador Espriu’s opus, most explicitly beginning with his rewriting of the Greek tragediesPhaedra, in novelistic form, in 1937, andAntigonein 1939.¹ Taking a long view of Espriu’s literary progression reveals a series of critical moments where personal loss translates into a poetics that takes on an increasingly universal tone.² Like Dante’s traveller into the inferno, Espriu’s poetic persona, with each death that it encounters, slowly aggregates the stories of other and then must lose himself in order to create space. Espriu’s duty is reflected by Tiresias in his adaptation of...

  11. 8 Conclusion: The Aesthetic Disruption of Political Truth
    (pp. 177-186)

    This book has filtered Francoist ideology through a theoretical framework that relates the sacred underpinnings of political imagination to several core tendencies. In a structural sense, I have postulated that the sacred is a concept that spills over into secular political imagination, to both positive and negative effect. On the negative side, the signature of the sacred within secular political thought tends to favour hierarchical governance and purifying, exclusionary violence. Resolving periods of discord and crisis often translates into a victimizing scapegoating mechanism in order to restore peace. Moreover, the sacred quality of political identification, which exists prior to rational...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 187-206)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 207-214)
  14. Index
    (pp. 215-224)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 225-225)