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Beyond Containment

Corporeality in Mercè Rodoreda’s Literature


Eva Bru-Dominguez

This book provides a critical and context-sensitive reading of corporeality in the narrative fiction of Mercè Rodoreda, through the perspectives of art and film theory, feminism, literary criticism, spatial studies, and nationalist theory. The text approaches Rodoreda as a Catalan woman writer whose work engages with and explores formulaic and normative notions of the gendered body in a particular cultural, geographical and political space. The study covers four main areas: corporeality as surface, image and texture; the relationship between the body and space; the idea of the culturally and politically constructed body as limit; and the concept of the abject or open body. The author places Rodoreda’s work in dialogue with a range of texts, media, modes of representation and discourses in order to examine how her artistic vision is both integrated with and a mediator of material experience in the twentieth century.


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The central aim of this book is to explore the construction of corporeality in the narrative fiction of Mercè Rodoreda (1908–83). Whilst the repre- sentation of the body in Rodoreda’s work has been addressed by other critics, who have drawn on dif ferent aspects of feminist theory and gender studies, this has largely been to the exclusion of socio-historical context. This ref lects more general trends in critical approaches to the Rodoredan corpus, above all the discrepancies and divergence between socio-historical and feminist readings of her narrative. Hers is a corpus of work that has been used to stand for dif ferent cultural values according to temporal and spatial context; additionally, her increasing acceptance today as one of the – if not the – most important Catalan writer of the twentieth century has led to corresponding concerns with maintaining, asserting, promoting and preserving her textual integrity. Here I will approach her narrative as a Catalan woman writer whose work engages with and explores formulaic and normative notions of the gendered/sexed body that are particular to a cultural, geographical and political space, but in doing so I will address and move beyond the divisions between socio-historical and feminist analyses, presenting her as an author who merits reading in terms of contemporary theories and formulations of the construction and performance of gender and the body. The principal texts studied here are the three novels which in my opinion most demand such an approach: El carrer de les Camèlies [Camelia Street] (1966), Mirall...

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