Loving’s the Strange Thing

Jungian Individuation in the Fairy Tales of Carmen Martín Gaite

by Anne-Marie Storrs (Author)
Monographs X, 250 Pages


This groundbreaking volume argues that Carmen Martín Gaite and Carl Jung form an ideal combination. All the main features of the Jungian individuation process are present in the Spanish writer’s fairy tales: dreams, shadow figures, wise men and women, the Self, anima and animus. Martín Gaite has been described by the critic Salustiano Martín as trying to offer human beings a different way. In this accessible new study, Anne-Marie Storrs claims that this way is found through the process of individuation – the psychological development of a unique individual – and that aspects of the process are imaginatively depicted in the three shorter fairy tales, El castillo de las tres murallas, El pastel del diablo and Caperucita en Manhattan, and in the novel so closely linked with Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, La reina de las nieves.
Drawing on the work of Jungian writers to clarify and illuminate its argument, this book takes an entirely new perspective on Martín Gaite’s work and, in doing so, challenges the prejudice and suspicion that too many in the humanities and beyond continue to experience when they come face to face with Jung.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1: A Natural Process: Individuation and the Impulse to Wholeness and Community
  • Introduction
  • Carl Gustav Jung and Carmen Martín Gaite
  • Projection
  • Individuation
  • Individuation and Love
  • Individuation and the Development of Christianity
  • Fairy Tales
  • Chapter 2: ‘Los informes vienen de todos lados’: Dreams in El castillo de las tres murallas
  • Introduction
  • The Fairy Tale
  • Snow White and Sleeping Beauty
  • Symbols of the Self
  • The Temptation of Christ
  • The Negative Animus
  • The Peacock
  • Dreams
  • Serena’s Response to the Dream
  • The Re-emergence of Serena
  • Abandoning the Child
  • The Structure of the Feminine Psyche
  • The Effect of Serena’s Departure
  • Altalé’s Tests
  • Altalé’s Final Test
  • The Transformation of Lucandro and Cambof Petapel
  • The Ending: Positive or Negative?
  • Chapter 3: ¿Cómo crecer? The Process of Individuation in El pastel del diablo
  • Introduction
  • Reconciliation of Opposites
  • The Setting
  • The Individuation Process
  • The Story-within-a-Story
  • The Descent
  • Encounter with a King
  • Conversation with an Ideal Interlocutor
  • Fantasy and Reality
  • The Fourth Function
  • La noche de San Juan
  • The Vision of the Self
  • The Return
  • Chapter 4: El quehacer más importante: Listening as Eros in Caperucita en Manhattan
  • Introduction
  • Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm: The Different Versions
  • Interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood
  • Caperucita en Manhattan
  • Vivian
  • Rebeca Little/Gloria Star
  • The Renewal of Ritual
  • Animus Figures and Masculine Influences
  • Un acompañante mágico
  • The Mystery of Miss Lunatic
  • The Encounter with the Wolf
  • The Wolf and the Grandmother
  • Endings
  • Sara and Individuation
  • The Importance of Story
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 5: ‘A lo más oscuro amanece Dios’: The Dawning of the Self in La reina de las nieves
  • Introduction
  • Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen
  • Structure of the Novel
  • Carabanchel and First Steps to Freedom
  • Risk of Regression
  • Leonardo’s Notebooks
  • Dreams and Stories
  • Trud and the Snow Queen
  • The Quinta Blanca and the Snow Queen’s Palace
  • The Anima
  • Anima Figures in Reina: Ángela and Clara
  • Angels
  • Anima Figures in Reina: Almu and Mónica
  • Vertigo
  • Casilda Iriarte
  • Mauricio Brito
  • Gerda
  • The Ego or the Self
  • A New Relatedness
  • Conclusion
  • Concluding Thoughts
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →


I would like to thank all those who have helped, supported, and encouraged me on the road to completing this book. First of all, Professor Alexis Grohmann, who supervised the PhD on which this book is based, for his wise and timely advice and encouragement. The interest and good advice of Dr José Saval, Dr Catherine O’Leary, and Dr Huw Lewis have been much appreciated. I would like to give thanks to Professor Jo Labanyi for her enthusiasm for my earliest work on Carmen Martín Gaite, which has sustained me along the way. Thanks for their support also go to Marion Spöring of the University of Dundee, Dr Robert Oakley of the University of Birmingham, Dr Mercedes Carbayo-Abengozar, Dr Susana Bayó Belenguer, Professor Maria Vittoria Calvi, and Dr Jessamy Harvey. I am grateful to the staff of the library at the University of Edinburgh, who have been unfailingly helpful, and also to the staff of the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, and of the libraries of the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews.

The values with which my parents, Margaret and Gerard Gartland, nurtured their children permeate this book and for this I am especially grateful to them. And thanks go to all my family for their support and encouragement, shown in so many different ways over the years.

My final thanks go to my husband, Chris – my ideal scholar – whose breadth and depth of learning and culture never cease to amaze me. I am grateful for the wonderful humour which has lightened the way and made it easier to retain a clear perspective, and for a rare and precious quality which he shares with Carmen Martín Gaite, namely the ability – so easily uttered and so difficult to achieve – to be completely oneself.

| ix →


Balneario El balneario

Caperucita Caperucita en Manhattan

Castillo El castillo de las tres murallas

Cuadernos Cuadernos de todo

Cuarto El cuarto de atrás

Cuento El cuento de nunca acabar

Fragmentos Fragmentos de interior

Irse Irse de casa

Nubosidad Nubosidad variable

Parentescos Los parentescos

Pastel El pastel del diablo

Raro Lo raro es vivir

Reina La reina de las nieves

| 1 →


A Natural Process: Individuation and the Impulse to Wholeness and Community


Carmen Martín Gaite related her favourite joke in an interview published in 1995. It concerned a man

que se iba a atar un zapato en un derby y se le subió encima un hombre, creyendo que estaba montando un caballo. Cuando lo contaba, alguien le preguntó: ‘¿Y tú qué hiciste?’ La respuesta fue: ‘Hice lo que pude, llegué el cuarto.’ (Cantavella 1995: 41)

[who went to tie his shoelace at a horserace and a man climbed on his back, thinking he was mounting a horse. When he told the story, someone asked him: ‘And what did you do?’ The answer was: ‘I did what I could, I came fourth.’]

The response of the man in the story seems incredible – he finds himself in an unfortunate situation because of the absurd misunderstanding of a stranger and, far from attacking, resisting, or rejecting, he responds creatively to the situation. A more typical reaction might have been to stand up, throw off the person who had climbed onto his back, remonstrate at such behaviour and become quite angry. Fear could provoke an even stronger, more violent reaction, whether verbally or physically. Or, if the person were clinging very tightly and refused to let go, it could prove very difficult to throw him off, leading to a struggle with a doubtful outcome. No wonder Martín Gaite called it maravilloso [wonderful], divertido [funny] and aleccionador [instructive], describing the sequence of reactions in the listener.

The context of Martín Gaite’s story suggests that the last of these situations is what she had in mind – where it was impossible to shake off the stranger – as she refers in the interview to the importance of distinguishing ← 1 | 2 → between ‘lo que tiene remedio’ [what can be remedied] and ‘lo que no lo tiene’ [what cannot] (Ibid. 40). Instead of ‘[empeñarse] en dar cabezas contra el muro’ [[insisting] on hitting your head against a [brick] wall], Martín Gaite counsels that ‘lo más importante es saber aceptar las cosas que no tienen remedio’ [the most important thing is knowing how to accept things that have no other way out] (Ibid. 40). It is an attitude of humility and also of responsiveness and, therefore, a feminine attitude, regardless of who adopts it, because it is concerned with responding and relating. As is clear from the chiste [joke], responsiveness is an attitude which, far from being passive and retiring, requires the alertness and attentiveness which are the mark of Martín Gaite’s philosophy. It is a creative response in which ego plays its part, but does not dominate: ‘Hago lo que puedo, que llego el cuarto, el segundo o no llego, pero no paro, sino que echo a correr’ [I do what I can, I might come fourth, second or not get there, but I don’t stop, I just start running] (Ibid. 41). It is the wholeness in the storyteller which enables him to respond as he does.

Accepting what you cannot change, not insisting on the dominance of the ego, implies acceptance of another reality. This was something addressed by Martín Gaite in an interview in 1989 when she told Maria Vittoria Calvi:

One of the most immediately striking aspects of this statement is that it was made about four years after the tragic death of Martín Gaite’s only ← 3 | 4 → daughter (and only living child), Marta, and leaves the reader both moved and impressed at the humility and at the profound spirit it reveals.

Also in her notebooks she records her reaction to the horrific murder of his five children by a tailor in Madrid in the early 1960s. Criticising the attitude of those who deemed it only a family tragedy, Martín Gaite argues that it is instead a message from God and that the tailor is ‘un instrumento de Dios’ [God’s instrument] (2002a: 62). In contrast to those who argue that if there really was a God he would not allow such things to happen she counters that ‘si hay algo sobrenatural son estas llamadas al espanto’ [if there’s anything supernatural it’s these calls to be frightened] (Ibid. 62). She regards the tailor’s act to be purposeful and demanding careful reflection precisely because of her perception of the inter-connectedness of all things, of the bond between the supernatural and the natural worlds. Her response to the murder confirms the ‘sentido religioso’ [religious feeling] she referred to as it enables her to see the meaningfulness of everything and the inter-connectedness of all human beings, both of which she has in common with Jung.


X, 250
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (December)
Carmen Martín Gaite Jung fairy tales individuation process relatedness
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2018. X, 250 pp.

Biographical notes

Anne-Marie Storrs (Author)

Anne-Marie Storrs holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh on the twentieth-century Spanish writer Carmen Martín Gaite. Her main research interests lie in the work of Martín Gaite explored from the perspective of Jungian psychology, with a particular focus on the individuation process, dreams and the symbolic life.


Title: Loving’s the Strange Thing
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