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Levinas’ notion of neighbor as an approach to understand Pío Baroja, otherness and modern Spain.

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https://doi.org/10.5070/T22145203Creative Commons 'BY-NC' version 4.0 license
Abstract

The Cold War era touched Spain only subtly. Because of the geopolitical situation of Europe during the second half of the 20th century, Spain remained almost isolated from macro politics, attempting impossible alliances with Italian and German fascism. For instance, whilst the rest of the world witnesses the beginning of the Cold War in 1947 and the Space Race, Spain’s history is marked by the death of a “matador”, Manuel Laureano Rodriguez “Manolete”, who copes the newspapers’ front pages for days and is followed by popular grief and controversy. Four decades before, Miguel de Unamuno already coins this ancestral voice of the Spaniard consciousness as “casticismo” and “intrahistoria”. However, in literary terms, Iberian literature showed clear signs of modernity, and sometimes, even of hybridity. The Iron Curtain did not cover the shame of a dictatorship regime in Spain, and yet, authors like Baroja describe that atmosphere at a great extent, even, as this paper wants to show, anticipates the Cold War psycho-social atmosphere. Authors like Levinas, on the other hand, provide a philosophical and theoretical frame to understand better both the Cold War period and the literary experimentation of Iberian authors towards the concept of the Other. In this piece, I discuss the proximity of the notion of the Other in Levinas and Baroja, and contrast this approach with the canonical vision of Baroja in Iberian literature.

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