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Exile and Identity in Autobiographies of Twentieth-Century Spanish Women

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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 Three. Exiled Self, Exiled Nation: Identity Redefinition in María Teresa León’s Memoria de la melancolía 45

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• C H A P T E R T H R E E • Exiled Self, Exiled Nation: Identity Redefinition in María Teresa León’s Memoria de la melancolía hen María Teresa León wrote Memoria de la melancolía (1970),1 over two decades had passed since she left Spain at the end of the Civil War. She then spent a year in France (1939–1940), followed by twenty-three years in Argentina (1940–1963). From 1963–1977, León resided in Rome. It was from this spatial exile that she remembered and wrote her past: her childhood and adolescence in Spain; her adulthood of awakened political consciousness and activity; her experience in the Spanish Civil War; and her years of expatriation. Through the lens of diaspora, León reconstructs her coming of age and the roots of her territorial displacement. There is considerable scholarship on María Teresa León’s life and her work. Letras peninsulares dedicated the Spring 2004 issue to her. The Sociedad Estatal de Conmemoraciones Culturales held a conference in her honor in March 2003 in the Casa de América, and published its proceedings in two volumes.2 In 1989, the Uni- versidad Complutense de Madrid also held a conference attended by scholars and close affiliates, such as, her famous poet husband Rafael Alberti, and the well-known poet and former political pris- oner Marcos Ana, among others.3 Previous to these convocations, the city of Burgos had honored León in 1987 by inviting academics and...

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