History, Violence, and the Hyperreal

History, Violence, and the Hyperreal: Representing Culture in the Contemporary spa Novel

Kathryn Everly
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Purdue University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wq289
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  • Book Info
    History, Violence, and the Hyperreal
    Book Description:

    What does literature reveal about a country’s changing cultural identity? In History, Violence, and the Hyperreal by Kathryn Everly, this question is applied to the contemporary novel in Spain. In the process, similarities emerge among novels that embrace apparent differences in style, structure, and language. Contemporary spa authors are rethinking the way the novel with its narrative powers can define a specific cultural identity.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-126-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-26)

    The novels produced in Spain in the last twenty years have confounded attempts by critics who sought to neatly categorize them. A noticeable trend in Spanish literary criticism seeks to reconcile the disparate styles, themes, and epistemological approaches found in these novels. Robert Spires points out that this may be symptomatic of the turn of the millennium, which inspired a need to “assign a rubric to the new Spanish fiction” (“Depolarization” 487). Elsewhere he comments on the thematic and stylistic differences between popular, trendy writers of the Generation X group and more historically grounded authors such as Javier Marías and...

  6. Part 1 History or Creating the Past

    • [Part 1 Introduction]
      (pp. 27-30)

      The first part of this study focuses on the controversial nature of the historical novel. Trained historians defend the need to unearth facts that establish concrete truths about past events, while writers and critics in the literary field play precociously with the existence of absolute truth and give precedence to the imaginary as a perfectly legitimate way to understand the world in which we live. The novels in this first section, by Carme Riera, Dulce Chacón, and Javier Cercas, consciously confront the notion of historical truth, yet it is important to note that the writers do not set out to...

    • Chapter One Rewriting the Past as Cultural Capital: Sacred Violence in Carme Riera’s Dins el darrer blau
      (pp. 31-46)

      The tension between History and violence seems to plant the seeds of resentment and prejudice. The act of forgetting violent events as a form of self-preservation can be attributed to a national consciousness as well as to individuals. Carme Riera’s award-winning novelDins el darrer blau[In the Last Blue] begs forgiveness in its deliberate presentation of the lives, persecution, and deaths of Mallorcan Jews. Riera considers History a desperate, destructive tool that chips away at the victims’ version of events and in doing so destroys any possibility of a comprehensive historical picture. Riera dedicated several years to extensive research...

    • Chapter Two Reader/Text Solidarity in Decoding the Past in Carme Riera’s La meitat de l’ànima
      (pp. 47-62)

      Carme Riera’s interest in vindicating the oppressed sectors of society through historical rewriting is clearly evident in her 1994 novelDins el darrer blau. Nevertheless, throughout her literary career, the Mallorcan author has effectively evaded categorization and refused to be labeled as any one kind of contemporary writer. She deftly handles feminist narrative, the historical novel, the detective genre, and the epistolary novel, among others. Her novelLa meitat de l’ànima[The Soul’s Other Half] (2004) also deals with themes of history and vindication yet from a personal instead of national perspective. In this novel, the protagonist sets out on...

    • Chapter Three Women, Writing, and the Spanish Civil War in La voz dormida by Dulce Chacón
      (pp. 63-84)

      Just as Carme Riera crosses narrative boundaries with her 1994 vindication of MallorcancriptojudíosinDins el darrer blaustudied in Chapter 1, Dulce Chacón’sLa voz dormida(2002) reveals the unique experience of women during and after the Spanish Civil War. Chacón also subverts the narrative norm as does Riera inLa meitat de l’ànima,but Chacón does it by artfully combining historical documents with narrative. Once again the relationship between the implied author and reader is reevaluated and revised. While Chacón does not explore extratextual narrative technique the way Riera does, her work brings new meanings to historical...

    • Chapter Four The Impossible Invention of History and the Hero in Javier Cercas’s Soldados de Salamina and La velocidad de la luz
      (pp. 85-110)

      In the prologue toRelatos reales, a collection of essays written for Barcelona’s edition ofEl País, Javier Cercas comments on the idea of his preferred genre, the “relato real.” Following the literary footsteps of great Spanish writers, Cercas reinvents the idea of genre in his attempt to fuse historical facts and fiction. Not unlike Unamuno and the “nívola” or Cervantes’s literary experimentation with genre inDon Quijote, Cercas investigates and exploits the tension between reality, truth, and literary invention and insists that every story is somehow tied to reality but that the idea of a “true” story is inconceivable...

  7. Part 2 Hyperreality or Creating Culture

    • [Part 2 Introduction]
      (pp. 111-114)

      In this section of the study, I move away from a strict sense of historical representations of culture and toward a contemporary notion of the historical present. Many critics have noted that the contemporary literary production of the Generation X in Spain revolves around an axis of historical neglect and outright rejection. The youth movement that characterizes the Gen X writers is firmly located in the hedonistic present and identifies with cultural globalization markers such as mass-produced and mass-marketed video, film, and music culture. However, while I agree with the idea that the Gen X steers away from historical comment...

    • Chapter Five Television, Simulacra, and Power in Three Works by Ray Loriga
      (pp. 115-132)

      Television plays a crucial role in defining popular culture and, as Rob Owen explains, crosses cultural boundaries, creating a common perspective. Although Owen is writing about Xers in the United States, his observations pertain to the Spanish Generation X as well. Ray Loriga, considered one of the forerunners of the Generation X literary movement in Spain, in his first novel,Lo peor de todo(1992), tells the story of a disenfranchised youth struggling with family problems in a fast-paced, consumerist society. The first-person narrative, fantasies of violence, and ubiquitous North American capitalism (the protagonist works in a McDonalds) define, in...

    • Chapter Six Textual Violence and the Hyperreal in De todo lo visible y lo invisible by Lucía Etxebarria
      (pp. 133-154)

      Lucía Etxebarria’s public persona has overshadowed, at times, the value of her literary production.¹ In line with Ray Loriga’s skepticism outlined in the previous chapter, Etxebarria remains another cautious member of the Generation X in Spain. Even though Etxebarria is somewhat of a media darling in Spain and manipulates the press and Internet to her advantage, she has openly denounced the Gen X label as a marketing tool for publishing houses to promote authors such as Loriga (Ferrari 259). In her chatty confessional about the writing business,La letra futura, Etxebarria castigates the press for inventing animosities between writers. She...

    • Chapter Seven (Inter)Textuality in José Ángel Mañas’s Historias del Kronen and La pella
      (pp. 155-182)

      José Ángel Mañas’sHistorias del Kronen(1994) remains one of the most important representations of Gen X literature in Spain.¹ The novel has been widely studied, mainly by North American critics, and despite a lukewarm reception by the Spanish academy, the novel was cited by the Madrid dailyEl Mundoas one of the top one hundred Spanish novels of all time (Pellajacket). Several critics of the novel have noted that the decadent portrayal of Spanish youth is representative of a general political apathy at the end of the twentieth century. In 2008 Mañas publishedLa pella, which deals...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 183-188)

    As exemplified by the title of this study, the notion of culture is complicated and multifaceted. Cultural reproductions in the novel range from historical to textual violence, from documenting alternative historical voices to alternative present-day realities. Perhaps it is easier to understandthe culturalinstead of culture: “a cultural text is always part of a wider and more complex symbolic system, a field of struggle for the symbolic reproduction of a social reality that is ultimately elucidated at the political sphere” (Sarto, Ríos, and Trigo 4). An exploration of the political and its relationship to the cultural helps to understand...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 189-198)
  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 199-210)
  11. Index
    (pp. 211-214)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-217)