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Post-War Spanish Women Novelists and the Recuperation of Historical Memory

Post-War Spanish Women Novelists and the Recuperation of Historical Memory

PATRICIA O’BYRNE
Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt4cg6zg
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  • Book Info
    Post-War Spanish Women Novelists and the Recuperation of Historical Memory
    Book Description:

    The passing of Spain's Law of Historical Memory (2007) marked the official recognition of the need to confront a violent and painful past. Article 2 makes reference to specific groups who experienced discrimination including religious and ethnic communities; no reference is made to the gender repression endured by women, enforced by a patriarchal regime through its legislation and policies, with the active support of the Church and the Women's Section of the Falange. Revised narratives of the period that have emerged in recent decades have raised issues in relation to the reliability and selectivity of memory, and its ongoing mediation by intervening events. While documentary sources of the period are prejudicial, cotemporaneous post-war testimonial novels provide an invaluable resource in reconstructing the past, particularly the novels of women writers. This book draws on their narrative to reconstruct the female experience of the post-war years and in particular on the writings of novelists whose work has undeservedly been disregarded. Neither the experience of women under Franco nor the narrative of women writers of the period should be forgotten. Patricia O'Byrne lectures in Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature at Dublin City University.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-272-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Notwithstanding the many studies of the post-war period carried out since the transition to democracy in order to ‘recover’ Spain’s past, there are still a number of aspects that have not yet been subject to adequate scrutiny. Alberto Reig Tapia lists some of them: ‘[A]ún faltan estudios sobre los aparatos del poder, la represión, la corrupción, las actitudes y mentalidades que generó el franquismo y sus bases sociales de apoyo, cuya influencia en la España democrática está aún por desvelar’¹ (There is still a need to study the organs of power, the repression, the corruption, the attitudes and mentalities that...

  6. 1 Spanish Women Novelists 1940–1960
    (pp. 23-56)

    The post-war novelist Carmen Martín Gaite was one of the first to record the emergence of significant numbers of women novelists in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Since then, most critics of twentieth-century women novelists’ literature refer to the boom in Spain in the 1970s and again in the 1990s, but as Carmen Urioste points out, reinforcing Martín Gaite’s observation, the 1990s’ generation represents thethirdemergence of significant numbers of women writers.² Critics (most of whom are women) who write about the apparition of scores of female novelists from the 1940s through to the mid-1960s all concur on the...

  7. 2 Ángeles Villarta Tuñón Work and Religion: a Right-wing Perspective
    (pp. 57-88)

    This chapter will consider the novels of Ángeles Villarta Tuñón (b. 1919), a writer with close associations with theSección Femenina(Women’s Section of the Spanish Falange), and examine how she communicates through her fiction the official discourse of theSección Femenina, the regime, and the Church on the place of women in post-war Spain. The discussion will focus on her portrayal of the situation of working women and the role of religion in women’s lives. However, before commenting on the author and her novels, the chapter will provide an overview of the Women’s Section of the Falange. The Conclusion...

  8. 3 Susana March Alcalá Sexual Abuse and Male Dominion
    (pp. 89-118)

    Susana March Alcalá (Barcelona, 1915–1990),¹ better known for her poetry than for her fiction, stated in an interview in 1967 that a novelist ‘tiene que ser notario de su época’ (needs to be a ‘recorder’ of her times), ‘un espejo en camino’ (a mirror along the way).² This Stendhalian principle has informed her fiction and much of her poetry. However, the author does more than record, she comments openly and critically on the inferior status of women in the postwar era. Following the summary of March’s biography and literary career, there is a discussion of the sexual abuse of...

  9. 4 Carmen Laforet Spinsters in Post-war Spain
    (pp. 119-148)

    The present volume intentionally focuses on lesser-known novelists whose writings provide testimony of the demeaning status of women in the post-war period, thus the reason for the inclusion of acclaimed novelist Carmen Laforet (1921–2004) should be clarified. The importance of Laforet’s first novelNada(1945, Nothing) cannot be overstated. Now approaching its one-hundredth edition, it is the most popular and successful novel written by a Spanish woman novelist in the twentieth century. Indeed, as Gustavo Pérez-Firmat acknowledges, its acclaim is not defined by gender boundaries: ‘Few modern Spanish novels have had as much critical and popular success asNada....

  10. 5 Rosa María Cajal Exemplary Mothers and Sexually Liberated Women
    (pp. 149-172)

    In her work as a journalist Rosa María Cajal (1920–197?),¹ like Ángeles Villarta, contributed to numerousSección Femeninapublications and was also involved in SEU (Sindicato Español Universitario[Falange Union of Students]) radio broadcasts. While this would indicate a degree of support for that organisation and their ideology, I have not found information to suggest more active involvement. On the one hand, Cajal depicts the official paradigm of abnegating motherhood promoted by the Church, the regime, the SF, and common to fascist ideologies; yet in most of her novels we encounter the young woman, fired with enthusiasm to experience...

  11. 6 Carmen Kurtz Prostitution, Sexual Ignorance and Sex Outside Marriage
    (pp. 173-198)

    In an interview given in 1959, Carmen Kurtz (1911–1999), emphasising the responsibility of the author and the testimonial dimension of her fiction, stated her belief that the novelist should only write about subject matter ‘de lo que pueda tener perfecta y auténtica información’ (of which she has full and genuine knowledge).¹ Of the writers discussed in this book, Kurtz is undoubtedly the most liberal thinker and the least shackled by repressive ideology. Moreover, she is forthright in her views. In the same interview she signals the need for a change in legislation, and when asked how she would improve...

  12. Afterword
    (pp. 199-200)

    The long overdue Law of Historical Memory (2007) may have opened old wounds but it is to be hoped that in time it will be recognised, even by those who opposed it, as a positive and necessary step in the process of recovery, closure and reconciliation. Article 2 of the legislation specifically alludes to minority groups who were prevented from participating in cultural, linguistic and sexual activities or functions that were proscribed by the dictatorship; it also makes reference to those forced into exile. There is no mention of the suffering of women or their exclusion from participating in many...

  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 201-212)
  14. Index
    (pp. 213-225)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 226-226)