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Vidas im/propias: transformaciones del sujeto femenino en la narrative española contemporánea

María Pilar Rodríguez

Through the analysis of six Spanish novels, one for each decade from the 1940s through the 1990s, Rodríguez proposes a new concept of the novel of feminine development and emphasizes the importance of the voicing of women's sentiments, passions, desires, and opinions that have not been expressed before in the literature of Spain. The study begins with Nada by Carmen Laforet, and continues with La playa de los locos by Elena Soriano, La plaça del Diamant by Mercè Rodoreda, two stories from Te dejo el mar by Carme Riera, Los perros de Hécate by Carmen Gómez Ojea, and Efectos secundarios by Luisa Etxenike.

In these texts, "la mujer española" of official discourse of the Franco period--woman as wife and mother as the most desirable possibilities of realization and development--is deconstructed into a multitude of vital, affective, and sexual options that confront this domestic image. These novels highlight the diversity of the feminine experience in the twentieth century and encourage us to question models of development that are monolithic and dogmatic.

"With erudition and conciseness, the Introduction of this first-rate study of six representative novels by Spanish women writers traces the critical history of the Bildungsroman from its German roots.... Vidas impropias not only offers reinterpretations (and, for the most recent novel, pioneering interpretations) of important works of fiction; read together these works bolster each others' rejection of Spanish-Catholic feminine norms and deepen the significance of ties both social and erotic among women.... Each chapter concludes with a section that relates its insights to specific socio-political conditions of women's lives from the historical context.... Rodriguez has accomplished her task of proving that an evolution in the novel of development has taken place. And in the process she has contributed provocatively and usefully to the critical picture of these crucial works of fiction." Elizabeth Scarlett, Anales de la Literatura Española Contemporánea

For the complete review, see Anales de la Literatura Española Contemporánea 27.2 (2002): 635-37.

"This book is imaginative, informative, innovative, and well written. Rodríguez has chosen several very interesting and important narratives to explore the development of prose fiction by and about women within the contexts offered by a number of Colleges of criticism, from classics such as Lacan and Barthes to various Colleges of thought that intersect with her study: feminism, queer studies, Bildungsroman, auto/biographical works, revisions of the canon, and studies of the body/writing conundrum." Kathleen McNerney, author of Voices and Visions: The Words and Works of Mercè Rodoreda

" outstanding study of the female protagonist as depicted through six decades of Spanish post-War narrative. This book, which will certainly appeal to Hispanists and feminists, contains a rhetoric that is sophisticated but still accessible to the general reader interested in any of the numerous authors treated in this study....The blend of close textual examination with careful secondary research makes for an enlightening and original study of the female protagonist that adds significantly to the corpus of works about female authors of twentieth-century Spain." Ellen Mayock, Letras Femeninas

For the complete review, see Letras Femeninas 27.1 (May 2001): 237-39.

"Rodríguez's book is a welcome addition to this growing corpus of critical studies on contemporary Spanish women's fiction....The book as a whole presents some original and engaging readings, particularly of texts that have suffered previously from critical neglect." Akiko Tsuchiya, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos

For the complete review, see Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 35.2 (May 2001): 440-42.

"… this book offers an interesting and original contribution to the study of Peninsular women's writing, concentrating on a variety of texts spanning six decades." —María Cinta Ramblado-Minero, Modern Language Review

For the complete review, see Modern Language Review 97.4 (2002): 1010-11.

For another review, see Confluencia, Spring 2002 (by Asunción Horno-Delgado).

María Pilar Rodríguez, Deusto University, is the author of articles on feminism, exile, and Basque literature and film.

1-55753-164-1 In Spanish.
2000. Vol. 19. xii, 222 pp. Cloth $29.95 PRICE REDUCED