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Confessions of the Letter Closet: Epistolary Fiction and Queer Desire in Modern Spain

Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 290
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  • Book Info
    Confessions of the Letter Closet
    Book Description:

    By the beginning of the twentieth century, epistolary novels in Spain increasingly grappled with homoerotic and homosexual desire, treating it as a secret communicated through private letters. Patrick Paul Garlinger reveals how the confidential model persists in fictional letter writing from the early twentieth century to the present, framing expressions of queer desire in confessional terms: secrecy, guilt, morality, and shame.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9681-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Confession, Sexuality, Epistolarity
    (pp. ix-xliv)

    This book explores the ways in which Spanish authors have used letters and letter correspondence in literature to give voice to homoerotic and homosexual desire. The overarching premise ofConfessions of the Letter Closetis that epistolary fiction offers a fertile yet unexplored terrain for the investigation of queer subjectivities in modern Spain. The association of letter writing with intimate secrets and sexuality has motivated contemporary critics to investigate authentic letter correspondence for evidence of homoerotic and homosexual relationships. Constance Jones has asserted, for example, that the “confidential aspect of letter writing has made it an especially fertile medium for...


    • CHAPTER 1 Archival Resurrections of Queer Desire in Miguel de Unamuno
      (pp. 3-30)

      La novela de Don Sandalio, jugador de ajedrez(The Novel of Don Sandalio, Chess Player, 1933) is a curious text with a deceptively simple plot. An unnamed protagonist suffers from a mental crisis about humanity and his place in the world, which leads him to take refuge in an undisclosed location. In spite of his fear of fellow men and a desire for solitude, he joins a local club where he begins to play chess with Don Sandalio. The bulk of the text consists of twenty-three letters, addressed to his friend Felipe, which relate his impressions of and shifting attitudes...

    • CHAPTER 2 Specters of Lesbian Desire: Love Letters and Queer Readers in Carmen Martín Gaite
      (pp. 31-56)

      In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” Inspector Dupin’s ingenuity in resolving the mystery of the missing missive resides in his insight that the letter, had it been concealed, would have been found. Instead, he reveals that the minister, who anticipated the detective techniques of the Parisian police, did not attempt to conceal it at all. The basic plot of Poe’s story is that the minister has stolen a letter addressed to the queen, the contents of which she would prefer to keep private. The minister exercises his newly gained power to exert pressure on the queen while the police...


    • CHAPTER 3 The Ethics of Outing in Luis Antonio de Villena
      (pp. 59-86)

      “In reality this story is nothing more than a confession,” writes the protagonist ofAmor pasión(Love Passion) (50).¹ First published in 1983 and revised in 1986, Luis Antonio de Villena’s novel begins as a letter of confession from Arturo to his friend César, after the latter makes an oblique reference to the rumors that at one time Arturo had a sexual affair with another man. Although the temporal frame of the letter’s events is not clearly stated, the reader can easily discern from references to Franco, university student riots, and musical appearances by Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones...

    • CHAPTER 4 A Witness to Mourning: Memory and Testimony in Carme Riera
      (pp. 87-112)

      “Jo pos per testimoni les gavines” (“I Call upon the Seagulls as Witness,” 1977) begins with a letter addressed to Alfons Carles Comín, who was the director of Editorial Laia in Barcelona at the time Carme Riera’s first literary works were published. The letter is not signed by Riera but destined for her. Comín is simply meant to deliver the letter to Riera, who is identified as the author of “Te deix, amor, la mar com a penyora” (“I Leave You, My Love, the Sea as a Token,” 1975). The brief missive is signed “illegible signature.” In a second letter,...


    • CHAPTER 5 Pleasurable Insurrections: Sexual Liberation and Epistolary Anarchy
      (pp. 115-148)

      Lluís Fernàndez’sL’anarquista nu(The Naked Anarchist, 1979) declares its two main themes in its title: sexuality and politics.¹ The text consists of fifty-six letters written between 1975 and 1976 by friends and a former lover to Aureli Santonja, a gay Valencian anarchist exiled in Amsterdam. On August 30, 1976, Aureli committed suicide with five packs of barbiturate suppositories. Writing from Valencia, Aureli’s friends openly share with him saucy anecdotes and failed love affairs. No longer constrained by the guilt-ridden confines of the confessional, Lulú Bon, Carles Besada, and Pipi Iaguer, to name a few, aim to astonish and scandalize...

    • CHAPTER 6 E-mail, AIDS, and Virtual Sexuality in Lluís Fernàndez
      (pp. 149-176)

      A prevention campaign for AIDS in Spain, which aired on national and autonomous community television channels on August 12–31, 2003, begins with a man facing his computer and composing an e-mail with the subject line “I love you” in English. He hits the “send” button, and the advertisement moves quickly from one computer user to another, each one resending the message in turn. The voiceover states, “The AIDS virus is transmitted just like a computer virus: it can be given to you by the person you’d least expect.” A “virus detected” dialogue box suddenly appears on the user’s computer...

  8. Postscript
    (pp. 177-188)

    In epistolary studies, it seems almost de rigueur to offer a postscript, as if the “p.s.” of letter writing were somehow more appropriate than the standard “conclusion.” Letter writing involves the inscription of past events, an action that gestures in turn toward a future moment of reading. Writing a conclusion about a genre that by its very nature resists such temporal closure is a difficult task. The study of queer desire in epistolary fiction in Spain could include additional works such as Miguel Espinosa’sLa tríbada falsaria(The Deceitful Tribade, 1982) andLa tríbada confusa(The Confused Tribade, 1984), Miguel...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 189-214)
    (pp. 215-234)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 235-243)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 244-244)