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Chaos and Coincidence in Contemporary Spanish Fiction

Anne L. Walsh

This book is an investigation of contemporary Spanish fiction, specifically a group of fictional texts (written and film) that appeared in Spain in the first decade of this century (2001- 2010). The author focuses on textual analysis and studies how chaos and coincidence appear in these narratives and shape them. The texts analyzed are Soldados de Salamina (2001) by Javier Cercas, Tu rostro manaña (2002-2007) by Javier Marías, La catedral del mar (2006) by Ildefonso Falcones, Volver (2006) directed by Pedro Almodóvar, Instrucciones para salvar el mundo (2008) by Rosa Montero and El asedio (2010) by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, with reference to other texts by these authors also included. Though very different storytellers, these authors share an interest in chaos as a theme and as a narrative device. This work shows that the recurrence in their stories of the theme of chaos indicates a move away from postmodern apathy to a growing sense of empowerment, both for characters and for their readers.


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2 Patterns within Chaos 47


47 Chapter Two: Patterns within Chaos The intention of this chapter is to present initial evidence to support the over-all argument that Spanish fiction in the first decade of the twenty-first century has seen something of a shift in focus, influenced in no small part by the popularisation of elements of chaos theory.1 Where before the emphasis was on failure, powerlessness, confusion and despair, novels of the last few years have offered a different vision whereby the reader, in parallel with the characters portrayed, experiences a greater sense of satisfaction when finishing the story told. No longer is the feeling at the end of a novel one of frustration, disappointment, irritation, even, but, rather, a sense of having travelled well on a journey, accompanied by others within the fictional story who, for all their flaws, have been equal to the task at hand. To examine this phenomenon, the text chosen is the well-known war story, Soldados de Salamina (Soldiers of Salamis) by Javier Cercas, first published in 2001. Since then, it has won at least ten literary prizes and translation rights have been sold in twenty-two countries;2 its status as a popular story seems secure, not just in Spain but at least throughout Europe as well. Likewise, Javier Cercas’s status as a storyteller is evident, being equally well known for other stories he 1 A version of this chapter was presented at the conference: Historical Crossroads. Spain from the 2nd Republic to the 21st Century/Encrucijadas Históricas. España...

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