Posmemoria y trauma: algunos problemas teóricos y sus consecuencias para la crítica literaria
La posmemoria se suele entender como una especie de trauma heredado. Los críticos literarios se han servido del concepto con el fin de demostrar la utilidad social y psicológica de la novela histórica. Este artículo propone que la posmemoria se desprenda de la teoría del trauma de forma que podamos rebatir la idea de que la ficción histórica tiene un valor intrínseco. Aboga por una modificación de nuestra forma de entender el concepto acuñado por Marianne Hirsch, alegando que la posmemoria se define mejor como el acto de generar una conciencia histórica en la sociedad y que esta labor está motivada no por el trauma, sino por un compromiso ético orientado hacia el activismo. Tomando como punto de partida la ficción contemporánea sobre la guerra civil española, este artículo demuestra la utilidad de esta nueva forma de entender la posmemoria, ya que abre un espacio crítico en el que los estudiosos de la literatura pueden pedir cuentas a los novelistas históricos.
Carlos Barral and the Struggle for Holocaust Consciousness in Franco’s Spain
This article uncovers the role of the Spanish publisher Carlos Barral in promoting knowledge of the Holocaust through a number of publishing ventures beginning in the late 1950s. Based on research in the Archivo General de la Administración, it sets Barral’s endeavors in the context of the Franco regime’s resistance to the public airing of Nazi crimes in Spain. After considering the historical factors that help explain why Franco’s regime was reluctant to tolerate an uninhibited public awareness of the extermination of the European Jews, the article examines how and why Carlos Barral made it his duty to promote knowledge of the horrors the regime was eager to hide.
The Opacity of Testimony; or, What the Philosophy of Literature Can Tell Us about How to Read Holocaust Narratives
Revered by some artists and scholars as the origin of ‘experiential truth’ and contested by others in in their zealous custodianship of the factual record, testimony occupies an awkward place in historiography. The battle lines drawn over the authority of the witness are conspicuous particularly in the field of Holocaust studies. The enormity of the extermination of the European Jews has led to considerable emphasis being placed on the significance of survivors’ narratives. While the proponents of testimony have championed witness accounts as an alternative, even superior, source of historical truth, some scholars have expressed misgivings regarding the sanctification of testimony and its relativistic consecration as an undisputed conduit of knowledge about the past. This chapter uses the work of Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen to interrogate the utility of the concept of ‘truth’ in the appraisal of literary works of Holocaust testimony. Drawing on Lamarque’s concepts of ‘thought-theory’ and ‘narrative opacity’, the chapter offers an alternative reading of the value of testimony that is not based on dubious truth-claims but recognizes nevertheless the unique contribution of testimony to discourse on the Holocaust.
The ‘Truth’ of the Past: Fiction as an Alternative to History in Contemporary Spanish Narratives of the Civil War and the Holocaust
This article explores the debates regarding the use of fiction to represent traumatic twentieth-century experiences. Through an analysis of Jorge Semprún’s Quel beau dimanche (1980) and L’écriture ou la vie(1994), Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Sefarad (2001) and Alberto Méndez’s Los girasoles ciegos (2004), it interrogates the value and morality of contemporary Spanish novelists’ use of fiction to explore the past. At the same time, this article seeks to build on a nascent field of critical investigation by drawing links between how novelists have written about two different historical experiences: the Spanish Civil War and the Holocaust.
Juan Benet and the French Nouveau Roman: A Contentious Connection Revisited
The uniqueness of Juan Benet’s fiction has long been a truism in critical discussions on the Spanish author’s work. This article seeks to challenge the notion that Benet’s admittedly idiosyncratic style is without parallel by reevaluating the writer’s relationship with the French nouveau roman. The article begins by diagnosing in Benet’s theoretical work and in that of his French precursors a shared skepticism of humanist positivism and of the epistemological function of the written word before examining how this skepticism is manifested in Volverás a Región.
In Search of a Lost Culture: Dissident Translations in Franco’s Spain
Translations of foreign works were among the cultural products subjected to censorship in Franco’s Spain. Translations were vetted to ensure they conformed to National-Catholic dogma, and, when granted, the nihil obstat was often contingent on publishers’ implementing the necessary mutilations to sanitize imported ideas for a Spanish audience. But there is another aspect to translation in Franco’s Spain that has been given insufficient attention. Translations of objectionable foreign authors testify to intellectuals’ dissidence with regard to the regime, as the publishing industry plotted a more expansive culture in Spain through its promotion of emblematic representatives of the European liberal tradition, which the regime had endeavoured to banish from Spanish shores. Drawing on archival research, this essay examines publishers’ recovery of the French writer Marcel Proust, one of the regime’s bêtes noires, whom publishers nevertheless promoted in defiance of Francoist insularity and puritanism.
Negotiating Space in Literary Representations of Holocaust Trauma: Jorge Semprún’s Le grand voyage and Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Sefarad
This article examines the representation of travel in two Holocaust narratives: Jorge Semprún’s Le grand voyage (1963) and Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Sefarad (2001). It argues that train journeys in these two texts function as a metaphor for the therapeutic process by which witnesses of a catastrophic event undertake a psychic journey back to the root of their trauma through the construction of a narrative. The centrality of trains and movement in these texts points to the necessity of negotiating space in order to work through trauma. While focusing specifically on the texts by Semprún and Muñoz Molina, this article seeks, more generally, to put the mobility turn of cultural studies in dialogue with trauma studies by establishing a link between trauma and space in representations of the Holocaust.
Two Abortive Beginnings and the Search for a Literary Father in Juan Goytisolo’s Señas de identidad
This article offers a reading of Señas de identidad that elucidates Goytisolo’s hitherto unacknowledged debt to Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. The opening of Señas dramatizes the process by which Goytisolo’s narrator becomes a creator, as he discovers through Proust his voice and the means to tell his story. At first Goytisolo’s text is incoherent. Twice his narrator tries and fails to begin his narrative. But the narrator eventually discovers a literary progenitor who will allow him to give shape to his inchoate discourse.
The Proustian ‘Memory Boom’: How Writing the Self Can Be Used to Write the Nation
Building on a recent study by Herbert Craig (2012), this article examines the influence of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu on contemporary Spanish novelists’ use of memory to recover Spain’s traumatic twentieth-century history. By reworking Proust’s use of literature to reconstruct the self, writers such as Jorge Semprún and Antonio Muñoz Molina have used autobiographical narratives to rewrite the nation. Analysing how these writers harness Proust’s use of the past to explore the self, this article argues that Semprún and Muñoz Molina posit a search for lost time as a means of serving the community.
Pastoral Paratexts: The Political and the Lyrical in Garcilaso de la Vega and Pierre de Ronsard
This article considers the dedicatory prefaces that frame Ronsard’s and Garcilaso’s pastoral works as an articulation of these poets’ divergent political and lyrical visions of bucolic poetry. While there is often a tendency to overlook prefatory matter as somehow extraneous to the text, this article argues that Ronsard’s ‘À treshaut et tresvertueux Prince François de France, Duc d’Anjou, fils et frere de Roy’ and Garcilaso’s dedications in the ‘Égloga primera’ and ‘Égloga tercera’ are essential documents in understanding these poets’ use of pastoral.
Nature as Enemy of Man in Julio Llamazares’s Luna de lobos
To synopsize Luna de lobos as a fictionalized account of the struggle between Republican guerrillas and the Civil Guard in the immediate aftermath of the Spanish Civil War is clearly misleading. A close reading of the work reveals an additional protagonist in this guerrilla battle set in the mountains of northern Spain: the natural world. This article provides a close analysis of Llamazares’s presentation of nature in order to support the assertion that the novel transcends the specificity of Spain’s history to provide a broader existential study of man’s place in the universe, in particular his relationship with the natural world. In Luna de lobos, nature is a hostile force that brutalizes the protagonists. This presentation of the natural world conforms to Llamazares’s aesthetic concerns as a Romantic. For Llamazares, the relationship between man and nature has become irremediably fractured.
Errancy and Alterity: Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Search for Lost Time
This article considers Antonio Muñoz Molina’s debt to Marcel Proust in his use of literature as a means of exploring alterity in the novel Sefarad (2001). Adapting Proust’s model for the recovery of the self through fiction, Muñoz Molina demonstrates how to engage empathetically with the victims of mid-twentieth century history. Sefarad thus posits a search for lost time through the forgotten testimonies of suffering at the hands of totalitarian regimes as a means of constructing identity, of comprehending the self in relation to the other.