Show Less
Restricted access

The Circular Pilgrimage

An Anatomy of Confessional Autobiography in Spain


John Rosenberg

The Circular Pilgrimage approaches Spanish autobiography from the perspective that no significant formal distinctions exist between fictional and nonfictional discourse. It demonstrates that formulas as diverse as those created by Santa Teresa and Cela's fictional Pascual Duarte depart from the same narrative tradition that attempts to transform the creative subject by means of aesthetic principles. The autobiographers compose their stories both to produce and to verify a personal transformation. In both spiritual autobiography and secular confessions, the conversion is developed in the form of Christianized romance that includes the stages of fall, exile, and redemption. The author shows how this underlying structure is undermined by the autobiographers themselves. The promise of renovation through art is revoked as the language that makes the transformation possible is shown to be unstable and therefore incapable of representing an image of either the old or the supposed new self. The writer becomes a «pilgrim who never arrives at Judea.»