Date of Award

5-2010

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Hispanic Literatures & Linguistics

First Advisor

Barbara Zecchi

Second Advisor

Luis Marentes

Third Advisor

Justin Crumbaugh

Keywords

"Civil War", "historical memory", "narrative structure", form, Postmodernism, Spain

Subject Categories

Spanish Linguistics | Spanish Literature

Abstract

The current study contemplates the relationship between narrative structure and memory in five contemporary Spanish novels. Since the Spanish Transition to Democracy literary critics have been quick to discuss the resurgence of historical memory in narrative. In particular, there has been an abundance of work that seeks to vindicate those who supported the Second Republic during the Spanish Civil War, but whose voices were silenced upon the republic's fall to Franco's army in 1939. Nevertheless, despite the wide critical recognition of a movement to recuperate Spanish historical memory, critics have largely ignored the role played by narrative structure in the construction of said memory during the 1990's and the first decade of the 21st century. Contemplating what Hayden White calls "the content of the form" at the stylistic level as well as at the level of each novel's macrostructure, this study demonstrates that the narrative techniques utilized by Juan Marsé, Manual Rivas, Dulce Chacón, Javier Cercas and Bernardo Atxaga cast a particularly postmodern light onto the darker mnemonic shadows of the Spanish Civil War and Franco's dictatorship. Through a series of typically postmodern mechanisms, such as the use of multiple narrators, mediated texts and constant dialog between varying levels of fiction and metafiction, these narratives transcend mere historic reflection and nostalgia in order to contemplate the subjective nature of the very mnemonic processes through which they are ostensibly created. The narrative structures of the works discussed in this study emphasize the fact that objective truth cannot be attained by means of present, postmodern remembering, much less when said remembering is linguistically mediated through narration. Thus, rather than seeking in vain to recuperate an unascertainable historical truth, these authors create highly structured, though purely esthetic, fictional representations of history, representations whose narrative forms are a prescription for the epistemic ills of the disillusioned, fragmented and uprooted postmodern implicit reader.

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