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Spanish Literature  
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The relationship, viewed retrospectively through the eyes of Elena's daughter, Marta, takes place in the pre-Civil War years (1933-1934), and the setting is a dusty, dingy hotel run by the two women. In exploring the fragments of her childhood memories in order to recuperate some significance from them, Marta remembers her home as a cold, dark, dirty jail filled with lies and sin.

The novelist Esther Tusquets will later employ a similar quest motif in El mismo mar de todos los veranos (The Same Sea as Every Summer [1978]), though she will invert Matute's practice by valorizing a lesbian relationship as truly authentic.

In Matute's depiction, however, lesbianism is unattractive. The portrait of Dionisia is particularly ugly. Not unlike Cela's Ramona, she is a frightening, domineering, and manipulative woman. Everything about her seems dark, savage, and perverse. Matute provides little insight into her feelings or motivations.

Matute's treatment of homosexual attraction is no more flattering in her 1952 novel, Fiesta al Noroeste (Fiesta in the Northwest). In this work, the Cain and Abel opposition, frequent in her writing, reflects the emotions unleashed during the Spanish Civil War.

Most of the novel consists of the confessions of Juan Medinao, the deformed, legitimate son of a wealthy landowner. He comes to represent the aristocracy, capitalism, the Church, and caciquismo--the forces that sustained Francisco Franco during the war. He also, not incidentally, experiences homosexual attraction toward his handsome, illegitimate half-brother, Pablo.

As in Los soldados, the homoerotic attraction is portrayed as an obsessive need to control its object. Juan eventually rapes Pablo's mother in order to symbolically possess him.

Miguel Delibes also incorporates the homosexual theme into his narration of the Civil War period. The gay character in his semiautobiographical work, 377A, madera de héroe (The Stuff of Heroes [1987]), is Jairo, an attractive, middle-aged bachelor who walks into the childhood of Gervasio, the would-be hero of the title.

There is some mystery surrounding Jairo from the moment he first appears in the novel. He proves to be a man of few words and unknown habits who hangs engravings of flagellated saints and naked boys in his hotel room. Jairo becomes interested in Crucita, Gervasio's adolescent and physically underdeveloped sister, eventually marrying her.

The breakup of this marriage due to Jairo's obsession with the girl's androgynous figure and the grotesque manner in which he is murdered by his homosexual lover eventually reveal his perverse and disturbing sexuality to the conservative, Catholic family.

Other Post-War Depictions of Homosexuality

Several other works of the post-war period incorporate homosexuality in one form or another. Carmen Laforet's novel La insolación (Sunstroke), published in 1963, focuses on the life of Martin, its narrator-protagonist, during his post-war adolescence. Martin's father, a macho military man obsessed with virility, finds his son sleeping with a neighbor, Carlos. Incorrectly suspecting the two of homosexual behavior, the father beats the boy, inducing him to leave the house and pursue his artistic vocation.

Another woman writer of this period is Ana María Moix, the younger sister of gay novelist Terençi Moix (who predominantly writes in his native Catalan tongue). Moix's first novel, Julia (1970), written as an interior monologue, depicts the Catalan bourgeoisie in the post-war period. When first published, the novel suffered some forty-five cuts at the hands of the censor.

The title character in this novel embarks on a relationship with Eva, her literature teacher. Though the novel suggests a sexual dimension to the relationship, it never makes the sexual dynamics patently clear, and Julia never becomes fully aware of her sexuality. For her, Eva represents mother, friend, and lover.

Significantly, however, Moix indicts traditional values and institutions from a distinctly feminine viewpoint. In one sleepless night, Julia relives the events of the previous years in what appears to be an emotional purging.

She was raised in a decadent and repressive environment. One of her two brothers (Rafael) died in adolescence. The other (Ernesto, autobiographically representing Terençi) is a homosexual. At the age of six, Julia was raped by Víctor, a family friend. From this event, she develops a growing aversion to men and a striking need for a strong female figure in her life.

Moix unwittingly regenerates the notion that lesbians are not women who love women, but women who hate men. This configuration allows men to remain the central force in female sexuality.

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