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La magia postergada: género fantástico e identidad nacional en la España del XIX


Critics have systematically overlooked contributions to the realms of fantasy and imagination by Spanish artists and writers. When studying the fantastic, even the most attentive studies have been biased by predetermined expectations. While theoreticians such as Tzvetan Todorov apply a universal definition of the genre to all western literary traditions, disregarding the variety among national settings and eliding the complexity of historical contexts, prominent critics such as David Roas or Baquero Goyanes have approached the Spanish fantastic as a mere reflection of foreign models. This perspective limits the Peninsular fantastic to a position of invisibility or dependence. Contrarily, I propose to return to the complexity and diversity of historical interpretations and to contextualize the existence of alternative practices of the genre, which is characterized by the filtering of hegemonic interpretations through their notion of national identity and literary tradition.

In the introduction, I integrate the critical reaction towards the fantastic from the perspective of Spanish authors within the frame of their historical period. I systematize the English and French pathways that determined the reception of the works by Hoffmann and also trace the persistent agenda to nationalize the fantastic in the first stage of the genre between 1822 and 1860. The project of nationalization is afterwards documented through three different manifestations frequently neglected. In chapter one, I study the crucial contribution of José María Blanco White, whose reflections upon the genre even predate the first official theoretical formulation of the fantastic mode by Walter Scott. In addition, I claim that Blanco’s proposal to recover the Arabic tradition had a direct impact on subsequent authors in Spain (Jorge Montgomery, Serafín Estébanez Calderón) and abroad (Washington Irving). In chapter two, I explore the centrality of the fantastic, as defined by Walter Scott and Enrique Gil, in the development of Antonio Ros de Olano’s short non-mimetic fiction and his later reutilization of the Spanish Baroque, Cervantes and Quevedo, in the creation of his “bizarre tales” or “cuentos estrambóticos.” In chapter three, I analyze how Pedro Antonio de Alarcón offers a different strategy of nationalization of the fantastic by re-appropriating the picaresque tradition within the realm of the natural world and by linking his tale to Christian eschatology within the sphere of the supernatural. Finally, in the conclusion I reflect upon the implications and further applicability of my research, specifically from the perspective of the comparative analysis of peripheral literatures and the future of Iberian Studies.

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