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Anatomía del desencanto: Humor, ficción y melancolía en España, 1976-1998

Santiago Morales Rivera

After the failure of the soixante-huitards, the collapse of European communism, and the fall around 1989 of various dictatorships and revolutions in Latin America, the sentimental approach to history is again reaping successes among the humanities and the social and political sciences. In the Hispanic world, this “affective turn” is on its way to repeating another fin de siècle like the one led by the intellectuals of 1898. A century later, in both Spanish and Anglo-Saxon universities, notions such as disenchantment, trauma, memory and empathy inform virtually all the analyses of modern Spanish culture, from the bloody Civil War and the nearly 40 years of fascism that followed it to the disappointing transition to democracy.

Santiago Morales intervenes in this sentimental approach to history and to the novelistic production of the transition by recovering the links and tensions that the notion of melancholy maintains with the esthetics of black humor in a corpus of fictional works written between 1976 and 1998. Through a methodology that alternates between the careful analysis of novels by Javier Marías, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, Cristina Fernández Cubas, and Juan José Millás, and the distant reading or framing that places these texts in a broader history, Anatomía del desencanto constructs a critique of the equivocal place held in our modern age by feelings that were, in another time, so noble and persistent, such as grief, fear, guilt and compassion.  

While other specialists who study the transition today agree in denouncing the ominous persistence of Francoism and the post-war ethos, Santiago Morales sees a deeply ironic formula in the black humor of melancholy: a catalyst in the creative and moral growth of Spanish narrative and a fundamental critical tool to change contemporary sentimental education.

Santiago Morales Rivera received his PhD from Harvard University and is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California-Irvine.

Forthcoming. PSRL 69. Paper. $45.00. e-Book available. Written entirely in Spanish.


Page last updated on 18 August 2018.

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