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Exile and Identity in Autobiographies of Twentieth-Century Spanish Women


Karla P. Zepeda

In Exile and Identity in Autobiographies of Twentieth-Century Spanish Women, Karla P. Zepeda studies the experience of exile and its effects on identity in three autobiographies: In Place of Splendor by Constancia de la Mora, Memoria de la melancolía by María Teresa León, and Seis años de mi vida by Federica Montseny. These three prominent Spanish women of the Second Republic became exiles at the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War due to the onset of the Francisco Franco regime. The political expatriation caused their relocation into various countries: the United States, France, Argentina, and Italy. The repositioning initiated a process of self-reinvention, as the women come in contact with social circumstances prompting new versions of self. Through their works, these women negotiate their identity in relation to the lost homeland and the new locale. Exile and Identity in Autobiographies of Twentieth-Century Spanish Women examines the diverse character of diaspora, the social transactions deployed in a variety of circumstances, and the self-negotiations elicited in social interactions. Identity proves to be an intentional re-creation of self, enacted in particular circumstances, and negotiated as a response to social conditions.


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Chapter Two. Concealing and Conceiving the Self: Constancia de la Mora’s Political Exile 19


• C H A P T E R T W O • Concealing and Conceiving the Self: Constancia de la Mora’s Political Exile onstancia de la Mora visited the United States at the con- clusion of the Spanish Civil War in order to seek American support for the recently defeated government of the Second Republic. It was during this stay that De la Mora produced In Place of Splendor: The Autobiography of a Spanish Woman (1939). Despite this autobiography’s proximity to the events of the war, the text does not mainly address De la Mora’s life within the im- mediate historical context. It delineates her coming of age within the early decades of twentieth century Spanish history. Through the perspective of a Republican consciousness at the dawn of de- feat, she recounts her private experience and the Spanish political developments of the years between 1906 and 1939. The act of re- membrance serves several purposes for De la Mora: to reflect upon her life, to comment on Spanish political history, and to provide an eyewitness account of the Spanish Civil War. Nonetheless, the text conveys a deep awareness of its American audience. In Place of Splendor is a text deploying strategies for interaction with the American reader; through distancing, defiance, suppression, com- pensation, and passing, this autobiography reveals the social ma- neuvering and self-work performed by exiles to manage their identity through different contexts. C •EXILE AND IDENTITY • 20 From a Conservative Lineage to a Communist Affiliation Constancia de la Mora y...

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