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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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Chapter 1 Textual Body


This chapter examines how notions of embodiment and the representation of corporeality in Rodoreda’s literature have been studied, interpreted or simply overlooked in the course of over three decades of Rodoredan criti- cal analysis. The fact that the debate over the suitability of socio-historical or feminist readings has been central to the construction of Rodoreda’s corpus of criticism has greatly inf luenced this project’s perspective on corporeality, to the extent that at the core of this study lies an attempt to identify the many ways in which cultural identity – as read through the analytical lens of feminist theory – is encoded in the body. Such a reading entails that understandings of the construction of corporeality are situated in relation to specific social and geopolitical spaces. As such, it requires an interdisciplinary approach which enables the reading of the body to be always in dialogue with notions of identity. Because of this focus, the reluctance within Catalan literary studies to engage with feminist theory means that the presence of Catalan criticism will be rather limited. The dif ferences between national and international perspectives on Rodoreda’s narrative are addressed in the first section of this chapter, an exercise that also requires the location of Rodoreda and her literature in relation to Catalan geographical, political and cultural boundaries. The second section then dwells on feminist theory and critically reviews feminist readings of Rodoreda’s narrative, giving particular attention to interpretations of constructions of corporeality in the texts studied in this book. Even though it is...

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