novel

novel
   The establishment of the Franco regime at the end of the Civil War had negative consequences for all cultural activity, not least the novel. Those pre-war novelists who were not dead or exiled found themselves, for the most part, reduced to silence, leaving the field open for those who accepted the regime. These included figures from earlier generations such as Wenceslao Fernández Flórez, Foxá and Claudio de la Torre, who were joined by younger writers like Gonzalo Torrente Ballester and Camilo José Cela. The novelists who received the most ample coverage in the official press had either fought on the Franco side in the Civil War or were members of the Falange: Cecilio Benítez de Castro, Ignacio Agustí, Torrente Ballester, Rafael García Serrano and Juan A.Zunzunegui. Nevertheless, this did not guarantee them immunity from political and ecclesiastical censorship, as Torrente Ballester and García Serrano found to their cost. The reading public, however, preferred translations of English and American novels, which were published in large numbers, exploiting the upheaval created by WWII, and the difficulty of enforcing copyright. Nevertheless, independently of official approval, Spanish novelists did achieve some resounding successes, notably Cela, with The Family of Pascual Duarte (La familia de Pascual Duarte, 1942), which was rejected by several publishers, and Carmen Laforet, whose Nada (Andrea) won the 1944 Nadal Prize, which for many years was to enjoy the same prestige as the Prix Goncourt in France. Critical reception was hostile because of what was regarded as the defeatist atmosphere of these novels, and the absence of spiritual values. It was precisely this, however, which enabled them to make such an impact in a society unsettled by the horrors of the Civil War and the abject misery which characterized the early years of the regime. By contrast, the official ideology, inspired as it was by Nazism and Fascism, was optimistic. A new, triumphant, imperial age had dawned, and the creative artist was required to adopt the attitude of Adam in the Garden of Eden: with no previous history, and a brilliant future before him, he was to renounce the forbidden fruit, that is, liberal and left-wing ideas, the consumption of which had, for two centuries, visited all kinds of calamities on Spain. Literature, however, needs to draw nourishment from its roots, and, since writers were officially prevented from seeking these in the recent past, they looked back to the imperial period of the "Catholic Monarchs", Ferdinand and Isabella and Philip II. The picaresque novel of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, together with the works of Cervantes, provided not only a literary model, but also a critical vision of human experience. It is therefore not surprising that the novelists who, in good faith, sought to connect with these roots produced writing which was completely in tune with the sensibility of their readers, but opposed to the official ethos. The portrayal of subhuman behaviour in Cela's first novel Pascual Duarte gave rise to a literary term, tremendismo, which came to be applied to novels of a similar tone and content. An intense period of novel-writing about the Civil War, of a documentary or "testimonial" kind, was followed by one in which existential works, with emphasis on personal dilemmas rather than social or political issues, predominated. Miguel Delibes, who won the Nadal Prize in 1947 with La sombra del ciprés es alargada (The Long Shadow of the Cypress), is the most talented and successful exponent of this pessimistic literature. Those few novelists who were able to continue working in exile were, by contrast, not inhibited from dwelling on the recent past. Abandoning the avant-garde techniques he had practised as a member of the "Generation of 1927" (the generation of Lorca, Dalí and Alberti), Max Aub, in most of his work written between 1943 and 1968, collected under the title El laberinto mágico (The Magic Labyrinth), cultivated a documentary approach which has, over the years, enhanced his reputation as the major novelist of the Civil War. In similar vein, Francisco Ayala published in 1949 two collections of short stories which offer a detached view of human experience and of the evils of the Civil War, Usurpers (Los usurpadores) and La cabeza del cordero (The Lamb's Head). Ramon J. Sender, who had written sociopolitical fiction before 1936, continued to produce in exile a vast output, in which the recourse to fantasy is the vehicle of critical reflection on the recent past. Masterpieces like Requiem for a Spanish Peasant (Réquiem por un campesino español, 1953), A Man's Place (El lugar del hombre, 1939), The King and the Queen (El rey y la. Reina, 1949), or the pseudo-autobio-graphical volumes of Chronicle of Dawn (Crónica del alba, also translated as Before Noon), are important landmarks in Spanish fiction. Of equal importance is the work of Eduardo Blanco Amor, beginning with La catedral y el now (The Cathedral and the Child) (1948). When he returned from exile, his Los miedos (Fear), shortlisted for the Nadal Prize in 1962, was greeted in official circles with a deafening silence, as was the lyrical, meditative Concierto en mi menor (Concerto in E Minor) (1964), by another early returnee, the poet Juan Gil Albert. As well as writing on Spanish themes, the exiles reflected their experience of their adoptive communities in Europe and North and South America, in novels published mainly in Mexico and Argentina, and subsequently smuggled into Spain: Ayala's Death as a Way of Life (Muertes de perro) and El fondo del vaso (The Bottom of the Glass); Sender's Epitalamio del prieto Trinidad (1942), Aub's Cuentos mexicanos (Mexican Stories) (1959), and his famous literary-pictorial joke, Jusep Torres Campalans (1958); and Esteban Salazar Chapela's Desnudo en Piccadilly (Naked in Piccadilly) (1957) and Perico en Londres (Perico in London) (1947). In Spain, meanwhile, a new generation of writers who experienced the Civil War as children was coming to maturity, and rediscovering pre-war Marxist-inspired social-critical fiction, an aspect of literary history suppressed by Francoist culture, as well as Italian neo-realism in both the cinema and in the novel. These writers cleverly cultivated a feigned objectivity and a series of rhetorical devices which enabled them to evade censorship, producing a vast range of social-critical literature which won considerable acclaim with the public, and was awarded several literary prizes. Ignacio Aldecoa won the Juventud Prize in 1953 for his short story "Seguir de pobres" (Always Poor), and in 1962 there appeared Time of Silence (Tiempo de silencio), by Luis Martín-Santos, a novel which occupies a similar place in the evolution of the genre as that held by Don Quixote in the development of the novels of chivalry. The most important landmarks are: Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio's The One day of the Week (El Jarama), which won the Nadal Prize and the Critics" Prize in 1955; Aldecoa's El fulgor y la sangre (Radiance and Blood) (1954); Jesús López Pache-co's Central Eléctrica (Power Station); Ana María Matute's Awakening, also translated as School of the Sun (Primera memoria, Nadal Prizewinner, 1959) and The Lost Children (Los hijos muertos, Critics" Prize, 1959); Jesús Fernández Santos" En la hoguera (At the Stake, 1957; Gabriel Miró Prize); and José M. Caballero Bonald's Dos días de setiembre (Two Days in September, Biblioteca Breve Prize, 1962). The strength of this movement was such that it carried along with it some of the leading novelists of the previous generation, such as Cela, whose The Hive (La colmena, 1951) is regarded, somewhat ques-tionably, as marking the beginning of neo-realism. Delibes" Smoke on the Ground (Las ratas, 1962) and Elena Quiroga's Algo pasa en la calle (Something's Happening Outside) (1954) also exemplify this trend. This whole group of novels is characterized by an expressive richness and lyricism which give the lie to any facile assumptions about the allegedly prosaic nature of the writing. This poetic density derives not only from the satirical mode employed in Time of Silence but also from the emergence of a hitherto unknown novelist who would be the standard-bearer of this generation, Juan Benet. His work is demanding and difficult, mixing fantasy and allegorical substitution in the manner of Kafka, but nevertheless offers a metaphorical interpretation of the contemporary history of Spain, especially in Return to Region (Volverás a Region, 1967), and the series Herrumbrosas lanzas (Rusty Lances) (1983–6).
   Social criticism of this kind inevitably put younger writers at odds with the previous generation, and Benet came to be seen as the protector or patron of those who were seeking to mark out a territory for themselves in the highly circumscribed field of literature. The new censorship law of 1966 abolished prior censorship of manuscripts but still prescribed heavy penalties for published work considered critical of the Franco regime. The first attempts to take advantage of the new law cost authors and publishers substantial fines. Ecclesias-tical censorship, however, was abolished, which opened the way to the reappearance of eroticism in the novel. The risks inherent in this were avoided by emphasizing formal experimentation and minimizing references to current social and political realities, making a virtue of what was actually a pressing necessity, given the persistence of censorship. Experimentalism drew in some long-estab-lished writers like Cela, author of Oficio de tinieblas, 5 (Tenebrae) and Torrente Ballester, whose La saga/ fuga de J.B. (The Saga/Flight of J.B.) (1972) was loudly acclaimed by the younger generation. Alvaro Cunqueiro, a neglected novelist with a playful imagination, won the Nadal Prize in 1968 with Un hombre que se parecía a Orestes (A Man who Looked Like Orestes), which prompted the reprin-ting of his earlier work. Juan Goytisolo continued his earlier vein of sociopolitical criticism, intensifying the satire by incorporating it into a more deliberately experimental framework in Marks of Identity (Señas de identidad, 1966), Count Julian (Reivindicación del conde don Julián, 1970), both published in Mexico, and John the Landless (Juan sin tierra, 1975). With the death of Franco and the disappearance of censorship, publishers abandoned experimentalism in favour of a return to classic narrative and the rediscovery of history. The first notable example of this trend was The Truth About the Savolta Case (La verdad sobre el caso Savolta, 1975), by Eduardo Mendoza, which won the Critics" Prize in 1976. Many of the novelists of the mid-1960s adapted to the new situation: for instance, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, J.M.Guelbenzu, Javier Marías, J.J. Armas Marcelo, V.Molina Foix, and Félix de Azúa. After 1975, a huge range of sub-genres was cultivated: historical, adventure, erotic and detective fiction, and a mixture of all these, including some innovative experiments. This development was in part the effect of changes in publishing, which, influenced by American models, moved towards more aggressive marketing, stimulating demand and turning the novel into a product, the acquisition of which became a marker of cultural standing. The publication of best-seller lists was a marketing ploy to persuade the public to equate sales figures with literary value.
   Though the sheer volume of material published in the 1980s and 1990s makes it impossible for even the professional critic to arrive at an overview of the entire genre, certain features stand out. The survivors of earlier generations are still remarkably productive. Francisco Ayala published Recuerdos y olvidos (Recollections and Omissions) in 1982, and Rosa Chacel Acrópolis in 1984 and Ciencias naturales (Natural Sciences) in 1988. Cela, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1989, published Mazurka for Two Dead Men (Mazurca para dos muertos) in 1983, and Cristo versus Arizona (Christ Against Arizona) in 1988. Torrente Ballester's creativity has shown no sign of flagging: La isla de las jacintos cortados (The Island of Plucked Hyacinths) appeared in 1980, Dafne y ensueños (Daphne and Dreams) in 1983, La rosa de los vientos (The Compass Rose) in 1985, and Yo no soy yo, evidentemente (I Am Apparently Not Me) in 1987. Miguel Delibes" critical vision of society is sustained in El disputado voto del señor Cayo (The Disputed Vote of Mr. Cayo) (1978) and Los santos inocentes (The Holy Innocents) (1981). José Luis Sampedro's best work dates from the post-Franco period. The mature Juan Goytisolo has produced Makbara (1980), Paisajes después de la batalla (Landscapes After the Battle) (1982) and Las Virtudes del pájaro solitario (The Virtues of the Solitary Bird) (1988), as well as his autobiographical volumes Forbidden Territory (Coto vedado, 1985) and Realms of Strife (En los reinos de taifa, 1986). Carmen Martín Gaite achieves a perfect blend of memory and fantasy in The Back Room (El cuarto de atrás, 1978), and, after two decades of silence, Ana María Matute has brought out Olvidado rey Gudú (The Forgotten King Gudu) in 1996.
   The younger members of this generation reached full maturity in the 1990s. Juan Marsé, whose bitter satire on Francoism, The Fallen (Si te dicen que caí), was published in 1973, painted in other novels, up to and including El amante bilingüe and Ronda del Guinardó, a vast fresco of Barcelona society. Luis Goytisolo has followed up his monumental Antagonía (1973–81), based on Dante's Divina Commedia, with Estatua con palomas (Statue with Doves) (1992), a complex mixture of autobiography and historical fiction. Francisco Umbral, who made his name with his satirical newspaper commentary on current events, is also a successful novelist, whose production is to Madrid what Marsé"s is to Barcelona, and includes Travesía de Madrid (Across Madrid) (1966), A Mortal Spring (Mortal y rosa, 1975), Los helechos arborescentes (The Tree Ferns) (1980) and Leyenda del Cesar visionario (Chronicle of the Visionary Caesar) (1991). Equally popular is Manuel Vázquez Montalban, whose commentary on society is more ideologically consistent than Umbral's, and who has written a very successful series of detective novels from Yo maté a Kennedy (I Shot Kennedy) (1972) to El premio (The Prize) (1996). Antonio Muñoz Molina, in Beatus Me (Happy the Man) (1986) and El jinete polaco (The Polish Rider) (1991), with absolute technical mastery and great lyrical depth, constructs a mythologized version of the story of his forebears. Javier Marías has been very successful in adapting to the new conditions of the market, and is widely respected outside Spain, as the conferring of the Impact Prize in Dublin in 1997 confirms. Publishers" statistics suggest that Arturo Pérez-Reverte, with his unrepentant return to the pleasures of the classic adventure novel of the nineteenth century, is the most widely read of the 1990s novelists.
   This rich and varied production, however, lives on the edge of the abyss. The flight from literature in educational syllabuses reflects a general lack of interest, paradoxical in view of the huge expansion of the reading public in absolute terms. Readership figures, however, cannot be considered in isolation from the expansion of the population and the spread of formal schooling. As in the last days of Pompeii, we may be seeing the final splendid fluorescence of the novel in book form before it is finally extinguished.
   Further reading
   - Amell, S. (1996) The Contemporary Spanish Novel: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography, 1936-1994, Westport, CT: Greenwood (a valuable guide to the study of the field).
   - Jordan B. (1990) Writers and Politics in Franco's Spain, London: Routledge (one of the most lucid studies in English of the novel in relation to its sociopolitical context).
   - Labanyi, J. (1989) Myth and History in the Contemporary Spanish Novel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (an indispensable study).
   - Soldevila Durante, I. (1998) La novela desde 1936, 3 vols, Madrid: Cátedra (an updated edition of one of the most comprehensive studies of the contemporary Spanish novel).
   - Spires, R.C. (1984) Beyond the Metafictional Mode: Directions in the Modern Spanish Novel, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky (sets the discussion of the Spanish novel in the context of contemporary critical theory).
   - Thomas, G. (1990) The Novel of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1975), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (a very comprehensive survey of the genre).
   IGNACIO SOLDEVILA DURANTE

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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  • Novel — Novel …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Novel — Nov el, a. [OF. novel, nuvel, F. nouvel, nouveau, L. novellus, dim. of novus new. See {New}.] Of recent origin or introduction; not ancient; new; hence, out of the ordinary course; unusual; strange; surprising. [1913 Webster] Note: In civil law,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Novel — Escudo …   Wikipedia Español

  • Novel — Nov el, n. [F. nouvelle. See {Novel}, a.] 1. That which is new or unusual; a novelty. [1913 Webster] 2. pl. News; fresh tidings. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Some came of curiosity to hear some novels. Latimer. [1913 Webster] 3. A fictitious tale or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • novel — adjetivo,sustantivo masculino y femenino 1. Que acaba de empezar en una actividad o profesión: La autora de este libro es una escritora novel, pero de cierta fama. Pepe es novel, pero no conduce mal …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • novel — [näv′əl] adj. [ME novell < OFr novel < L novellus, dim. of novus, NEW] new and unusual; esp., being the first of its kind n. [It novella < L neut. pl. of novellus (see NOVEL the adj. ), hence, orig., new things, news] 1. Obs. NOVELLA… …   English World dictionary

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  • novel — (Del cat. novell, nuevo). adj. Que comienza a practicar un arte o una profesión, o tiene poca experiencia en ellos. U. t. c. s.) ☛ V. caballero novel …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • novel — Ⅰ. novel [1] ► NOUN ▪ a fictitious prose narrative of book length. ORIGIN from Italian novella storia new story . Ⅱ. novel [2] ► ADJECTIVE ▪ interestingly new or unusual …   English terms dictionary

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