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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 Four. Performing the Self: Federica Montseny’s Exilic Identities in Seis años de mi vida 71

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• C H A P T E R F O U R • Performing the Self: Federica Montseny’s Exilic Identities in Seis años de mi vida ederica Montseny published her autobiography Seis años de mi vida (1978) more than thirty years after the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War and the onset of her exile. Despite the decades passed, the text conveys an immediacy to the reality of war and the hardships of exile, because it focuses on Montseny’s first six years of life as an expatriate in France. An intimate record emerges as this author recounts private moments of migration, homelessness, destitution, and uncertainty suffered with her family. As Shirley Mangini has already observed in her essay “Three Voices of Exile,” Montseny’s singular purpose is to “relate her story” and “to provide us with a piece of history” that goes beyond the literary or the philosophical (213). Seis años de mi vida presents readers with a compelling personal account of historical events relating her crossing of the French borders; her migration through various towns; her family struggles; her experience of the German invasion; and the every day survival in an occupied France. There is a limited amount of scholarship dedicated to Seis años de mi vida. Scholars mainly examine Federica Montseny’s political activism (Fredricks & Iréne Lozano), the feminism in her novels (Cruz-Cámara), and the woman’s question in light of anarchist thought (Nash & Scanlon). In terms of her autobiographies, the main interest centers on Mis primeros...

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