March Alcalá, Susana

March Alcalá, Susana
b. 1918, Barcelona
   Writer
   Poet, novelist and short story writer, Susana March, who achieved her mature style in the 1950s, explores the solitary struggle of women who aspire to autonomy in a patriarchal society. March has not received the critical attention she deserves from feminist critics, though she anticipates many of the concerns of feminism. In addition, the experimental novels of the 1960s have eclipsed her traditional realistic style. Representative of her best work are collections of poems, Esta mujer que soy (The Woman I Am) (1959), Poemas: Antología: 1938-59 (Poems; Anthology: 1938–1959, 1966) and the novel, Algo muere coda día (Something Dies Within Us Every Day) (1955), translated into French (Les ruines et les jours).
   In the semi-autobiographical novel, Algo muere cada día, the narrator-protagonist, María, develops her potential as a writer, raises her children and becomes financially independent, in the absence of her husband. (He is in political exile during the early years of the Franco regime.) However, her autonomy is ultimately thwarted by her husband's return. As María knows, the norms of the patriarchal order will be re-established, with her happiness, pleasure, convenience and personal destiny fading into insignificance. María's resignation, modified only by her unspoken nonconfor-mity and her ability to endure, may seem too tame to modern readers, but the novel reflects the social circumstances of the early post-war years, before the reform of the Spanish civil code in 1970, when there was no divorce and women were treated as minors, dependent on the male head of the family.
   March places women in a network of relationships: family, extended family and friends. Her themes are represented by poems in the 1966 anthology. Among them, "Mi madre y yo" (My Mother and I) and "La madre" (Mother) capture a daughter's devotion to her mother and their mutual understanding as a profound life force. Maternal tenderness for a son is poignantly expressed in "Mi hijo ha crecido este verano" (My Son Has Grown This Summer). "A un hombre" (To a Man) is a thoughtful statement of the unfulfilled desire for friendship and mutual respect between men and women. Like Gloria Fuertes, March uses colloquial language to evoke emotion or criticize social norms that stifle women's aspirations. However, March's tone is more controlled, and her language more lyrical. In "Una señora" (A Lady), ladylike behaviour becomes a form of selfcensorship, communicated through the paradox of a silent scream.
   March has written ten books of verse, four novels, two collections of short stories and with her husband, Ricardo Fernández de la Reguera Ugarte, has co-authored nine historical novels. These were published by Editorial Planeta (1963– 72) in a series entitled Episodios Nacionales Contemporáneos (Contemporary National Episodes).
   Further reading
   - Cavallo, S. (1990) " The Quiescent Muse of Susana March", Monographic Review/Revista Monográfica, Odessa, IX 6: 81–92 (an overview and analysis of March's poetry).
   - Patterson, H.W. (1965) Antología Bilingüe (Español-Inglés) de la Poesía Española Moderna, Madrid: Cultura Hispánica (includes translations of two poems, "Long, Long Ago" and "Threshold").
   - Pérez, J. (1988) Contemporary Women Writers of Spain Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers (an overview of writing by Spanish women authors through the 1980s, containing useful socio-political information).
   MARIA NOWAKOWSKA STYCOS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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