From Rebel Girls to Chicas Raras: The Influence of Elena Fortún’s Celia in Carmen Laforet, Carmen Martín Gaite and Ana María Matute
AuthorPuchau De Lecea, Ana
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Ana Puchau De Lecea
In late 1920s’ Spain, Elena Fortun (pseudonym of Encarnacion Aragoneses, 1886-1952) started publishing “Celia y su mundo”, considered the best children's books series of the time. Her innovative character, Celia, tries to make sense of a world dictated by grown-ups and continually attempts to escape their impositions. Through the voice of a character belonging to two traditionally marginalized groups, children and women, Fortun found a way to transmit progressive messages to her readers. However, as she gets older, the character who broke the mould with her transgressive behaviour and convincing speech, gradually adapts to what is expected of her. The historical events reflected in the books range from the final years of Miguel Primo de Rivera's dictatorship, to the historical advances of feminism during the Republic and their loss during Franco's dictatorship after the Civil War (1936-1939). This thesis contends that the Celia series planted the seed of postwar bildungsroman for Carmen Laforet (1921-2004), Carmen Martin Gaite (1925-2000) and Ana Maria Matute (1925-2014), who read Celia in their childhood and whose novels featured teenage girls fleeing their oppressive households. The trace of Fortun’s Celia is analysed in the works: Nada (1944) and La isla y los demonios (1952), by Laforet; Entre visillos (1952) and El cuarto de atras (1978), by Martin Gaite; and Los Abel (1948) and Primera memoria (1959), by Matute. By breaking the rules of children’s literature, usually didactic and moralistic, Fortun created a character that paved the way to arguably the first generation of Spanish women writers. Celia was considered a rebel just because she could not make sense of her status quo, which continually limited her existence to that of a silent secondary character. Frustrated, Celia spoke to her girl readers who considered themselves raras for pretty much the same reasons and who created brave, nonconformist female characters years later.
KeywordsSpanish Literature; Women Writers; Chicas Raras; Rebel Girls
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