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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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3 Confidence and Control 59

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59 Chapter Three: Confidence and Control Javier Marías and the narrator of his three-part novel, Tu rostro mañana (Your Face Tomorrow) (2002-2007), will form the basis of the study of this chapter. Marías’s work is renowned for its style of incompletion, where the narration runs from one novel to the next. Intertextual overlap causes disconcertion in the reader who may (or may not) recognize an echo of a previous text but may be hard pressed to locate that echo accurately. Such is the case of the first two episodes, Fiebre y lanza (Fever and Spear) and Baile y sueño (Dance and Dream). The last episode, Veneno y sombra y adiós (Poison, Shadow and Farewell) (2007), however, would seem to go against the grain of Marías’s previous narratives in that it provides a more structured story with a clear ending. This chapter analyses this structured approach and indicates that, by providing a narrator who takes action and fulfils his aims, a positive message is communicated: that the individual has power to make things happen. Readers familiar with the style of Javier Marías will recognize immediately its link with chaotic patterns and seeming lack of control whereby the protagonist/narrator experiences what look like a random series of events without exerting any control over such events. It would, at first glance, appear to be the last kind of narrative to occupy the primary space of a chapter entitled ‘Confidence and Control’, for those are two characteristics...

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