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literature

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Spanish Literature  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  

In a later novel, ¿Walter, por qué te fuiste? (Walter, Why Did You Leave? [1973]), Moix reinstates some of the same characters who appeared in Julia. Here, again, she treats the subject of homosexuality in both serious and farcical ways. The plot of the novel--ostensibly a search for the Walter of the title--is allegorically an inquiry into the meaning of life.

The title of Teresa Barbero's El último verano en el espejo (The Last Summer in the Mirror [1967]) evokes Tusquets's later novel, El mismo mar de todos los veranos. The work explores the sexual feelings between Elena and Marta--quite interestingly, the same names given to the mother and daughter in Matute's Los soldados lloran de noche.

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Nonfiction Treatments of Homosexuality

Francisco Umbral, a Spanish journalist, essayist, and literary critic, addresses homosexuality and feminism in literature in Tratado de perversiones (Treaty on Perversions [1977]). He associates both phenomena with decadence.

The text is so plagued with internal contradictions that it becomes a boon for feminists and gay activists. Concerning gays, the book is a rather fanciful apologia for and heterosexism, and provides little insight. His interpretation of feminist criticism is equally misguided.

Antonio D. Olano wrote his book on homosexuality, Carta abierta a un muchacho "diferente" (Open Letter to a "Different" Young Man [1974]), at about the same time as Umbral, but the two works diverge greatly.

Olano's purpose is to illustrate homosexuality by using concrete examples. The author observes heterogeneity in the gay community and attacks one-dimensional stereotypes about it. Olano's essay is colloquial and conversational, which is why "letter" surfaces as the most appropriate category for his writing.

It is likewise appropriate because the tone of the work is far more lyrical than analytic. Presumably he is writing this letter to the (male) homosexuals of Spain whose cases he has studied, but the complacent, bourgeois, heterosexual reader is always present in the text. While looking at the cases of these homosexuals, he keeps one eye on those who disdain them in the name of morality.

Olano becomes the voyeur eavesdropping on the intimacy of his supposedly generic "Manolo," the name he uses to protect the privacy of the men whose lives he evokes. By identifying Manolo as every man (or every gay man), then relating his secrets, Olano establishes a delicate balance between revelation and concealment.

Juan Goytisolo

Another post-war author, Juan Goytisolo, uses homosexuality as an emblem of bravado. In three of his novels, Señas de identidad (Marks of Identity [1966]), Reivindicación del conde don Julián (Count Julian [1970]), and Juan sin tierra (John the Landless [1975]), he exalts homosexuality for rejecting Hispanic social norms.

The sexual and scatological themes in the trilogy are often extreme and grotesque. In the last two books, he metaphorically sodomizes the values of bourgeois, heterosexual, Catholic Spain--the very Spain that, once internalized, prevented Bradomín from acting on his sexual impulses.

Goytisolo renounces the oppressive and repressed heterosexual culture of his homeland to embrace a more sensual, festive alternative culture, which he associates with homosexuality. There is much cruelty in this simultaneously joyous and brutal celebration.

He attempts to recuperate the virility (associated with violence) that has been denied to homosexuals. But his recuperated virility is more like coarse contempt; hence, he may reestablish the cultural definition of homosexuality in the very act of subverting it.

He is also somewhat misogynistic in directing his attack specifically against women (quite graphically against the female genitalia, and, by extension, against female sexuality).

The manichean construction of sexuality that associates heterosexuality with the good and the spiritual, and homosexuality with evil and the body, is reiterated by Goytisolo, only this time it is conscious and freely chosen.

His theatrically ardent opposition turns out to be a parody of heterosexual paranoia. Goytisolo understands society's fear of the homosexual, and turns it against that very society, aggressively and vindictively using it to destroy its repressive underpinnings. Violence here is seen as an act of self-assertion and self-expression, as it is in much of the imagery found in García Lorca's Poeta en Nueva York.

The Liberalization of Post-Franco Spain

Post-Franco Spain (the late 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s) experienced intense liberalizations that allowed a new crop of daring and innovative writers to come to the forefront. As a consequence, homosexuality gained a far more prominent position in the literature of Post-Franco Spain than it had at any other period in Spanish history.

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