This article discusses the representation of the experience of exile in two recent novels by Spanish women writers that foreground the continued legacy of the Civil War and of the Republican exile of 1939 in contemporary Spain. The novels that form the basis of my discussion, Josefina Aldecoa’s La fuerza del destino [The Force of Destiny] and Almudena Grandes’s El corazón helado [The Frozen Heart], foreground the need to acknowledge the traumatic effects of exile on Republicans and their descendants as part of current debates about how best to deal with individual and collective memories of Spain’s recent repressive past.
These fictional works both revolve around the life stories of female protagonists, as adults and as children, who are seeking to come to terms with the legacy of their experience, whether personal or inherited, of war and dictatorship. In particular, these novels foreground the far-reaching implications of the Republican exile of 1939 and its impact on different generations of Spaniards, from children to the elderly. El corazón helado presents the perspective of children who are born outside Spain yet are raised as “Spaniards” by their parents and grandparents and explores their complicated positioning with regard to the two different communities, both cultural and linguistic, to which they relate. Both El corazón helado and La fuerza del destino also explore the challenges faced by returning exiles of different generations, ranging from second and third generation exiles who return to a “homeland” that they have never known, to the now elderly Republican exiles who face the challenge of returning to a country that bears little resemblance to the Spain that they had left over thirty five years earlier.
|Keywords:||Spanish Literature, Women Writers, Exile|
Head of Languages and Cultures, School of Languages and Cultures, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
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