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Beyond the Back Room

New Perspectives on Carmen Martín Gaite


Edited By Marian Womack and Jennifer Wood

This collection of essays examines current trends in scholarly research on Spanish author Carmen Martín Gaite (1925-2000). It concentrates on the least explored areas of Martín Gaite’s oeuvre, such as her collage artwork, the relationship between image and text in her work, and her close relationship with themes such as genre writing, the fairy tale, and textual/physical notions of space, as well as her personal theories on orality and narration. As we pass the tenth anniversary of her death, Martín Gaite continues to be an increasing focus of study, as scholars start to identify and comprehend the breadth and scope of her work.
The essays in the volume complement previous studies of Martín Gaite’s major works from the 1960s and 1970s by focusing largely on her later novels, together with in-depth analysis of the manuscripts and artistic materials that have been made available since her death.


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Part Three Writing / Memory 219


PART THREE Writing / Memory Jennifer Wood Introduction to Part Three: Writing / Memory Writing, for Carmen Martín Gaite, is pluralistic and multiple; an integral part of a nexus of connections, themes, motifs, meanings and relationships which are endlessly self-referential and transformative. Notions of commu- nication and issues surrounding narration and the art of story-telling under- pin all of her works, being elaborated in her more theoretical pieces, such as El cuento de nunca acabar, El cuarto de atrás and numerous essays, while her fictional pieces act as paradigmatic performances of these same formula- tions, though concomitant with her conception of writing, these categories remain mutable and porous. She always shied away from attempts to for- mulate ‘una teoría coherente y correcta [a correct and coherent theory]’1, or an all-encapsulating categorization of what narrative meant to her, as to categorize is to restrict and confine, preferring instead to maintain the f luidity, the mutability, the possibility and the vitality of the text/story. This is not to say though that Martín Gaite’s writing lacks a philosophy, a conceptual approach, but that this approach echoes its own articulation, remaining deliberately dynamic, incomplete and indeterminate, true to the view advanced by Tzvetan Todorov, and enacted in El cuarto de atrás, as well as elsewhere, that the story that underlies every novel is precisely that of its own creation. Martín Gaite’s writing articulates an impetus to maintain plurality and the never-ending quality of the text, whereby she...

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