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La transicion a la democracia en la novela espanola (1976-1996): Los poderes de la memoria

Carlos X Ardavin, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The transition to democracy is the most significant political event of the recent Spanish history and the episode which after the Civil War has wielded the most powerful attraction over Spanish historians and politicians. Taking into account this fact, it is curious that a phenomenon that has inspired a considerable novelistic corpus has not being studied systematically by literary criticism. This doctoral dissertation is an analysis of how four contemporary Spanish writers (Francisco Umbral, Manuel Vicent, Fé1ix de Azúa y Manuel Vázquez Montalbán) view in their novels Spains transition to democracy. I argue that these authors offer alternative narratives of the transition that disrupt and contradict the complacent and monological version elaborated by Post-Francoist historiography; a version that is, fundamentally, a mythical narrative construction. How does fiction contradict the myth of the democratic restoration? By using and abusing memory. In these novels, memory is used as an epistemic instrument to investigate the recent and unresolved political past of Spain, and rebuild a solid collective and personal identity. Taken together, the five novels of this study suggest that there is a gap between memory and history, a sharp opposition between what I call a politics of forgetting promoted by the historians and politicians, and a poetics of memory fostered by the fiction writers, which establish a dialogue with the transitiods history in order to apprehend its complexity through imagination. In this dissertation I also argue that the political transition and its fictionalization took place almost simultaneously. For the historical and literary study of these novels, I have used as primary critical instruments some ideas elaborated by the New Historicism, the Postmodernism, and Mikhail Bakhtin, among others. These practices view the issue of representation as ideological construction and reexamine the relationship between fiction and history, so important in the novels of this study. Understanding the political transition by way of its literary representations is a fruitful operation that reveals to us the essential role of memory and fiction in the elaboration of Peninsular history and identity.

Subject Area

Romance literature|Literature

Recommended Citation

Ardavin, Carlos X, "La transicion a la democracia en la novela espanola (1976-1996): Los poderes de la memoria" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9920580.