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Juan José Millás

The Obsessive-Compulsive Aesthetic

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Dale Knickerbocker

The five novels written by Juan José Millás between 1988 and 1998 ( El desorden de tu nombre; La soledad era esto, Volver a casa; Tonto, muerto, bastardo e invisible; and El orden alfabético) display an increasing preoccupation with a limited number of themes, principally identity and social criticism. They also demonstrate the constant reiteration of a specific group of motifs, an increasing use of metafictional devices, and the use of bizarre or mentally disturbed protagonists. Millás presents writing as the compulsive expression of obsessive thought. This book explains Millás’s literary signs as corresponding to the clinical symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Using Fredric Jameson’s concept of the political unconscious, the obsessive-compulsive aesthetic is found to constitute Millás’s individual manifestation or working-through of an anxiety present in the collective unconscious of Spain and provoked by the rapid political, social, economic, and cultural changes experienced during those years.