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The Dilemma of Modernity

Ramón Gómez de la Serna and the Spanish Modernist Novel

John A. McCulloch

The Dilemma of Modernity is a study of the evolution of Ramón Gómez de la Serna’s narrative fiction within the context of European Modernism. At a time when Joyce, Kafka, Proust, and Woolfe were experimenting with prose fiction, very little is known about Spain’s contribution to the novel. Despite his years in Paris, when it was still considered the cultural capital of Europe, and his championing of the avant-garde in Spain in the 1920s through his literary salon Pombo, which attracted figures such as Borges, Picasso, Huidobro, Buñuel and Lorca, Ramón Gómez de la Serna’s work has suffered from critical neglect.
The Dilemma of Modernity sets Gómez de la Serna’s work within the cultural and historical context of the time and traces his evolution from aesthete to promoter of the avant-garde, modernist, and existentialist.


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Chapter 2. The Banquet Years I (1919–1923) 29


Chapter 2. The Banquet Years I (1919–1923) Yo no era más que un transeúnte un poco más consciente que los demás transeúntes, pero con menos presente y porvenir que ellos, aunque podía elegir como nadie el rumbo del paseo de la tarde. Ramón Gómez de la Serna (1888–1963) Being no longer controlled by the powerful impulses of ‘common sense’, and the ‘normal’, the valves of our unconscious open (…) Thus a world of new sensations and awareness comes into being. Amédée Ozenfant (1886–1966) The age demanded an image of its accelerated grimace, something for the modern stage (…) Ezra Pound (1885–1972) The 1920s ushered in Gómez de la Serna’s most productive period in his ca- reer as a writer, although not necessarily his best. During this decade he wrote more than ten major novels and numerous short stories, whilst contrib- uting to the major literary journals and newspapers of the day. Such a prodigious output inevitably raises questions regarding the quality of such a large corpus of work written in a relatively short space of time. Whatever conclusions are reached regarding the literary worth of his work, there is no doubt that the decade of the 1920s is crucial to understanding Gómez de la Serna’s work as a whole. In the novels and short stories he wrote during this time he experimented with the genre of the novel and established the themes and character types which...

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