Workings of Memory [The]: Life-Writing by Women in Early Twentieth-Century Spain

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1st Edition

Hardback, 240 x 160 mm. 176pp ...
In stock in Australia, for immediate despatch

The process of modernisation that occurred in Spanish society in the first decades of the 20th century resulted in significant changes in all aspects of life, from economic and social structures to the emergence of new cultural modes and values. While these decades brought new opportunities for women and a degree of social and intellectual freedom, female writers and intellectuals in early 20th-century Spain nevertheless encountered many obstacles in their efforts to transcend gender barriers and participate in the literary and cultural scene of the day.

This book focuses on the life-writing produced by four women writers and intellectuals who were active in the Madrid cultural arena during this period: Carmen Baroja (1883-1950), Maria Martinez Sierra (1874-1974), Maria Teresa Leon (1903-1938), and Concha Mendez (1898-1986). The study examines the ways in which these writers portray their positioning in relation to dominant cultural models of the time and their engagement with political and social issues in a period of changing gender dynamics and political instability. In broader terms, this book examines the complex relationships between memory, writing, and identity, and thus contributes to the growing field of explorations of the workings of memory in narrative.

The opening chapter presents a framework for the study, outlining details of the relevant socio-historical and political context, the literary history of the period in question, and discourses pertinent to life-writing and the workings of memory in narrative. Chapter 2 focuses on Carmen Baroja's Recuerdos de una mujer de la generacion del 98. Baroja's work reveals much about the reality of life for women of the upper and middle classes from the turn of the century through to the 1930s, particularly with regard to the gender discourses designed to exclude them from the cultural world. Chapter 3 examines the autobiographical writings of Maria Martinez Sierra. The author of numerous plays and essays that appeared under the name of her husband, Gregorio Martinez Sierra, Maria Martinez Sierra was also an important feminist political figure in Spain in the 1920s and 1930s. This chapter examines her representation of the different facets of her past in Una mujer por caminos de Espana and Gregorio y yo.

Chapter 4 discusses Maria Teresa Leon's Memoria de la melancolia. The question of the construction and inscription of memory, both personal and historical, is central to the analysis of Leon's work. Concha Mendez's Memorias habladas, memorias armadas constitutes the subject of chapter 5. The discussion of Mendez's work centres on her representation of the position of women on the writing scene in I1920s and 1930s Madrid, as this author seeks quite explicitly to write herself into a literary history from which she has been excluded.

Examined together, the autobiographical narratives of Baroja, Martinez Sierra, Leon, and Mendez shed much light on the realities of life for the female intellectual in early 20th-century Spain. The Workings of Memory explores the ways in which these writers position themselves in relation to the past - both personal and historical - and explore the role of memory in the construction of their narratives of the self.

Sarah Leggott is a Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Spanish Program at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.


SKU 9780838756829
Barcode # 9780838756829
Brand AUP
Artist / Author Sarah LEGGOTT

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