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The Novels of Josefina Aldecoa

The Novels of Josefina Aldecoa: Women, Society and Cultural Memory in Contemporary Spain

Series: Monografías A
Volume: 308
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    The Novels of Josefina Aldecoa
    Book Description:

    Josefina Aldecoa, in her treatment of themes such as a woman's place in society under and after dictatorship, mother-daughter relationships, war, and memory, confirmed her unique role as a contemporary novelist concerned with women's identity in Spain and as a writer of the mid-century generation ('los niños de la guerra'). The first volume of her trilogy, 'Historia de una maestra', was one of the earliest narratives of historical memory to be produced in Spain. In this sense, Aldecoa's work anticipated new developments in gender studies, such as the intersection of feminist concerns and cultural memory. This book offers a comprehensive examination of Aldecoa's trajectory as a novelist, from 'La enredadera' to 'Hermanas', centring on her primary preoccupations of gender and memory, arguing that Aldecoa's fiction offers a new, more complex understanding of women's identity than previously understood. The work combines the two dominating theoretical components of feminism and cultural memory with close textual analysis of Aldecoa's narratives. Her novels highlight the importance of the details of women's daily experiences and struggles throughout the twentieth century, a period of significant socio-political upheaval and change in Spain's history. NUALA KENNY teaches Spanish at the National University of Maynooth, Ireland.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-031-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    The aim of this study is to present a comprehensive analysis of the novels of Josefina Aldecoa, which span the last three decades. In doing so, it employs a thematic approach, which is combined with a dual theoretical perspective centred on feminism and cultural memory in contemporary Spain. Such a structure accommodates an in-depth investigation of Aldecoa’s body of work and seeks to highlight the interconnection between women’s experiences and Spain’s current preoccupation with cultural memory. Moreover, a key objective of this book is to draw attention to the link between Aldecoa’s narrative and the historical and socio-cultural conditions in...

  4. Chapter 1 Feminism
    (pp. 6-41)

    In the following chapter, a brief critical history of the main tenets of feminist theory relevant to this book will be outlined. This will include an analysis of Anglo-American, French, and Spanish feminism. Each movement will be examined with reference to the political and social climate in which they emerged, the basic tenets shaping each movement and the strengths and weaknesses they possess. An understanding of the development of feminist criticism is essential if one is to appreciate the growth of literature by women in Spain, and thus, the work of Josefina Aldecoa, whose writing captures the reality of womanhood...

  5. Chapter 2 Women and Identity: La enredadera, La Casa Gris and Hermanas
    (pp. 42-109)

    Since the nineteenth century, the role of women in society and women’s perception of themselves have dramatically altered. In La enredadera, La Casa Gris and Hermanas, Aldecoa charts the emergence and development of women’s self-awareness and position in both Spanish and British society. However, this progression is contrasted with the persistence of what Aldecoa has termed ‘the feminine condition’, namely motherhood, which continues to have an impact, both positively and negatively, on women’s lives. Each novel represents a very different period during Aldecoa’s literary career. La enredadera was Aldecoa’s first published novel (1984) and La Casa Gris (2005) her penultimate...

  6. Chapter 3 Love and Relationships: Porque éramos jóvenes, El vergel and El enigma
    (pp. 110-169)

    This chapter will explore the complex issue of love and relationships in contemporary Spain. In recent times, attitudes towards marriage and the rituals and customs governing relationships have profoundly altered. In the novels Porque éramos jóvenes (1986), El vergel (1988), and El enigma (2002), Aldecoa charts the evolution of love and relationships in mid- to late twentieth-century Spain. Each of the protagonists in the novels is engaged in an on-going quest for love and self-fulfilment. They experience at first hand the euphoric highs and soul-destroying lows of forbidden romance, unrequited love, and marriages of convenience. Moreover, these middle-aged characters are...

  7. Chapter 4 Memory and Civil War: Historia de una maestra, Mujeres de negro and La fuerza del destino
    (pp. 170-230)

    This chapter will examine the issue of cultural memory and the impact of the Spanish Civil War as depicted in Aldecoa’s trilogy, Historia de una maestra, Mujeres de negro and La fuerza del destino. These novels tell the story of Gabriela López Pardo, her mother and her daughter Juana, who together bear witness to one of the most turbulent periods in Spain’s history. In order to pass them on to her daughter, Gabriela records her memories of the coming of the Second Republic, her dreams of educational reform, and the death of her husband at the outbreak of the Civil...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 231-235)

    This study has demonstrated how Aldecoa’s narrative reconfigures women’s identity in contemporary Spain and confronts the memory of the Spanish Civil War and the years of the Francoist dictatorship, exploring its deep psychological impact on current and future generations. In examining the cultural and social myths surrounding women’s role in Spanish society, Aldecoa deconstructs traditional patriarchal paradigms and offers a new, more complex understanding of women’s identity, free from existing hierarchical and binary structures. This rejection of the patriarchal system that pervades the fabric of Western culture is further extended by Aldecoa in her depiction of the Civil War and...

    (pp. 236-248)
  10. Index
    (pp. 249-258)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-259)