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Recuperating the Bildungsroman in Women's Contemporary Spanish Narratives and Film


The coming-of-age novel or story exhibits a search for the individual’s meaningful existence within society in conjunction with the attainment of one’s true self. In the years following the Spanish Civil War, Carmen Laforet, Ana María Matute, Mercè Rodoreda, Esther Tusquets and others, published novels of female development that enriched the canon of the Spanish literature. The recent decades have witnessed the publication of a growing number of female formation novels by Lucía Etxebarría, Almudena Grandes, Rosa Montero, as well as many other leading female writers in Spain.

This dissertation examines the silenced voice in women’s narrative fiction characterized by modules of the Bildungsroman and aided through cinematic representations. It provides an investigation of patterns in women’s narrative trajectory revolving around configurations of the novel of self-formation and theoretical perspectives on love and eroticism as seen in the novels Nada, El mismo mar de todos los veranos, Julia, Las edades de Lulú, Beatriz y los cuerpos celestes, Primera memoria and the film Elegy. Additionally, I question the interchangeability and reversibility of masculine and feminine traits as demonstrated in the novel Te trataré como a una reina and the films Carmen and Lucía y el sexo, proposing that these notions manifest a discord that subverts the hierarchy of hegemonic discourses. I also focus on exploring connections between women’s marginal standing and the overall sense of displacement and uneasiness that trickled into the Spanish Transition period as seen in the novels Cielo nocturno, La plaza del diamante and the film Las trece rosas.

Ultimately, the texts and films I have chosen formulate evocations of this relationship in order to explore factual/fiction dividends of the novel of self-discovery. All works have a common divergent interest in the interplay between the attainment of the self that is aided through political or social conflict, while the others deal tangentially with relationships involving gender based perspectives in conjunction with desire and intimacy.

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