Rude Awakenings: The Child In Trauma Narratives Of The Spanish Civil War
This project argues that the engagement with childhood and the notion of awakening seen in Spanish novels from the 1950s grant access into the difficulties of narrating wartime trauma as it has been conceptualized in modern psychoanalysis. Through close readings of novels by Juan Goytisolo (Duelo en El Paraíso), Manuel Lamana (Los inocentes), and Ana María Matute (Primera memoria), I demonstrate that scenes of awakening symbolize the move toward adulthood undergone by child characters on the brink of adolescence. Furthermore, I contend that the notion of awakening simultaneously acts as a textual metaphor for the process by which survivors of traumas such as the Spanish Civil War seemingly begin to psychologically experience them only in their aftermath. That is, trauma victims can be said to have metaphorically slumbered through the original event, "awakening" to its painful consequences belatedly. My analysis-supplemented by Freudian theory and its literary applications by critics such as Cathy Caruth and Ross Chambers-explores both the enunciative and receptive limitations of trauma narration as it is presented in these novels: on the one hand, the difficulty survivors have in speaking of a violent event; and on the other, the reluctance of would -be listeners to bear witness to a painful testimony. Moreover, I maintain that the narrative structures of these particular texts re-enact the phenomenon of trauma for the readers, awakening us via literature to the potentially traumatic nature of historical violence.
Keller, Patricia M.
Cohen, Walter Isaac; Garces, Maria Antonia
Ph. D., Romance Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis