Mayoral, Marina

Mayoral, Marina
b. 1942, Mondoñedo (Lugo)
   Critic and writer
   An established literary critic, who teaches Spanish literature at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Mayoral has written extensively on two Galician writers of the nineteenth century, Rosalía de Castro and Emilia Pardo Bazán. Since the publication of her first novel in 1979, Cándida otra vez (Once Again Cándida), she has published five novels, a collection of short stories, Morir en sus brazos y otros cuentos (To Die in His Arms and Other Stories) (1989) and several other fictional works of shorter length. Among them, Mayoral has published three in her native Galician, Unha árbore, un adeus (A Tree, a Goodbye) (1988), O reloxio da torre (The Tower Clock) (1988), and Chamábase Luis (His Name was Luis) (1989), thus joining the group of contemporary writers who have started to publish in their vernacular language.
   Mayoral's novels reveal common themes: some of the same characters reappear, story lines continue, and all have the presence of Galicia as an unmistakable characteristic. She has created, in the fashion of Juan Benet, a fictitious town, Brétama, which exemplifies Galicia's semifeudal society. It is evident in Mayoral's works that inequities exist between the working class and the privileged class, illustrated in Contra muerte y amor (Against Love and Death) where all the characters are Galician by birth, even though the novel takes place in Madrid.
   Other themes in Mayoral's novels are the traditional ones of liberty, death and love which border on the melodramatic. Often violent, untimely, or mysterious endings are the fate of many of her characters. Her approach to love, marriage and other relationships, involving homosexuality and incest, as is the case in La única libertad (The Only Liberty), show a marked change from the censorship of the Franco era. Mayoral's novels, like Al otro lado (On the Other Side), tend to have involved, intricate action with an element of mystery and intrigue reminiscent of detective fiction. She also incorporates different narrative points of view and the use of humour, which is a fundamental aspect of her writing.
   The strength of Mayoral's novels lies in the richness and originality of her characterizations. A wide range of characters from different social classes, ages and occupations relate to each other in a weblike pattern. Strong female protagonists are of special interest in all her novels, but she also portrays substantial male characters. Although Mayoral does not proclaim herself a militant feminist, in her novels she defends a better position of women in society. All her female characters are unique personalities who serve as models to the female reader.
   Marina Mayoral shows a definite development in her fiction; not only have her novels grown in length, but they have also grown in complexity. Recóndita armonía (Hidden Harmony) of 1994 is a case in point for its parallel structure. Mayoral has earned an important place among contemporary writers; she has been praised by critics and is appreciated by her readers, both in Spanish and Galician. Since 1994 Marina Mayoral has published two important works: a novel, Dar la vida y el alma (Madrid, 1996), with the parallel structure of a double love story, and Recuerda cuerpo (Madrid, 1998), a collection of clever short stories.
   Further reading
   - Alborg, C. (1991) "Marina Mayoral's Narrative: Old Families and New Faces from Galicia", in J. Brown (ed.) Women writers of Contemporary Spain: Exiles in the Homeland, Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press (a review of Mayoral's themes and most memorable characters).
   - Mayoral, M. (1992) Cándida otra vez, ed. G.Gullón, Madrid: Castalia (a useful edition with an introduction and bibliography).
   - Zatlin, P. (1987) "Detective Fiction and the Novels of Mayoral", Monographic Review/ Revista Monográfica 3, 1–2: 279–87 (an excellent study relating Mayoral's novels to detective fiction).
   CONCHA ALBORG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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