La TransiciÓn a La Democracia En La Novela EspaÑola

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This book is an analysis of how several contemporary Spanish writers (Francisco Umbral, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Manuel Vicent and Félix de Azúa) view Spain’s transition to democracy in their novels. These authors and their texts offer alternative narratives of the transition that disrupt and contradict the complacent and monological version elaborated by post-Francoist historiography; a version that is, fundamentally, a mythical narrative construction. How does fiction contradict the myth of the democratic restoration? By using – and abusing – memory. In these novels, memory is used as an epistemic instrument to investigate the recent and unresolved political past of Spain, and rebuild a solid collective and personal identity.

Taken together, the novels of this study suggest that there is a gap between memory and history, a sharp opposition between what the author refers to as a politics of forgetting promoted by the historians and politicians, and a poetics of memory fostered by the fiction writers, which establishes a dialogue with the transition’s history in order to apprehend its complexity through imagination.

A more extensive and profound knowledge of Spanish literature related to the issue of the political transition will serve to understand this complex event (the transition to democracy), and the origins and developments of post-Franco’s Spanish culture and society.


“In the last decade, few topics have been as hotly and persistently debated in Spain as the topic of the historical memory of the country. Although the revision of history has affected practically all periods of Spanish history, the arguments have reach special intensity in the discussions about the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and about the transition to democracy, which took place between 1975 and 1979, although consensus on those dates is far from universal ... A noteworthy aspect of this book is Dr. Ardavín’s examination of the ways in which the novelists recover the individual memories and the emotional intensity forgotten by a history that reduces the flow of life to a linear narrative without bumps or fissures ...” – (from the Foreword) Professor Ángel G. Loureiro, Princeton University

“The transitional period to the democratic system in Spain (1975 – 1982) has found a wide echo in the Spanish academic and journalistic circles of the last twenty years, especially in the fields of history, political science, sociology, and cultural studies. This work develops a thorough analysis of how this political interval in the recent Spanish history finds itself reflected and represented in narrative fiction and thus seeks to fill a vacuum ... This book certainly opens a new venue of research in Spanish peninsular studies, largely previously unexplored. The value of this book resides not only in the excellent reading and interpretation of the chosen fictional works, but also on its effective and fruitful linkage to contemporary literary theory, political theory, and historical trends in both Spain and the United States ...” – Professor Eloy E. Merino, Northern Illinois University

“The Spanish democratic transition is, second to the Civil War, the event in the history of Spain that has received the most attention on the part of researchers and scholars (and certainly not just historians) beyond our frontiers. Professor Ardavín’s book is an additional effort to bring light into an historical episode that, in Spain, almost from its very beginning, has occupied both an area of myth and one of distrust and has always swung from a mood of euphoria to one of disenchantment ... This book, well beyond its nature as an essay and as literary and historical research, also implies a very praiseworthy effort to recreate historical memory, to organize it, and to give a voice to those who, to a great extent, have made of its exercise and cultivation the very reason of their existence ...” – Professor Eduardo Martínez Rico, Complutense University of Madrid

Table of Contents

Introducción – La novela española sobre la transición política
1. Hacia una poética cultural de la transición política
2. Francisco Umbral: la memoria simultánea y esperpéntica de la transición política
3. Manuel Vázquez Montalbán: la memoria dialógica de la transición política
4. Félix de Azúa y Manuel Vicent: la memoria desencantada de la transición política
Índice onomástico y temático

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