Angles on Otherness in Post-Franco Spain: The Fiction of Cristina Fernández Cubas

Angles on Otherness in Post-Franco Spain: The Fiction of Cristina Fernández Cubas

Angles on Otherness in Post-Franco Spain: The Fiction of Cristina Fernández Cubas

Angles on Otherness in Post-Franco Spain: The Fiction of Cristina Fernández Cubas


"Cristina Fernandez Cubas has been acclaimed as one of the key writers who express the exploration of identity in democratic Spain. Her first collection of short stories, Mi hermana Elba, was hailed by critics and writers alike as the initiator of a renaissance in Spanish short fiction. She has since established herself as a master of the genre and applied her talents to the novel and theater as well." "This study explores the reconstruction of identity in the context of post-totalitarian Spain and, more widely, of postmodern Western culture. On the levels of individual, family, regional, national, and international identity, Fernandez Cubas's characters experience quintessentially postmodern crises of subjectivity with their search for cohesion in the midst of disjunction. How do we define who we are? How do we develop our identities in contention with or collusion with other people? Inevitably, the issue of identity condenses to the unsettling paradox of sameness and difference, two opposing poles that Fernandez Cubas inverts, subverts, and subsumes to show that they both repel and dwell in each other. As a result, the very borders that subjects depend upon to define their subjectivity also delineate the subjectivity of their others, both similarly and oppositionally. In the end, it is precisely the difference and repetition imbued in oppositionality that establish, destabilize, and re-define the identity to the subject who is open to different angles on otherness." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


“La diferencia estaba en mí […]”

[The difference was in me {…}]

—“Los altillos de Brumal”

AS CRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ CUBAS TELLS IT, HER DAYS GROWING UP IN A beachfront town outside of Barcelona contained many literary elements. Her family included four sisters who shared the fantasies, terrors, and sicknesses of childhood, and a brother who embellished on the details of The House of Usher for his sisters, with the result that when Cristina read the Poe tale herself, she found humorous fault with it: “I thought he was an excellent writer. But in certain passages I discovered missing at least three chairs and one folding screen” (Fernández Cubas 1991, 114). She also had a mother who “wandered around the entire house at all hours” and a father who aspired to “create a dictionary in all the languages of the world” (115). The family was watched over by the ancient and seemingly eternal Antonia, a voracious storyteller who possessed “a complex arsenal of prodigious stories” (114). Hearing these tales, the children were delighted with the notion that the most astonishing events had certainly happened somewhere, and could possibly happen to them at any moment.

Yet Fernández Cubas was unable to mold these experiences into stories until she left Spain to live in Latin America for two years, starting in 1973. The return from this trip radically changed her perspective on the past and her vision of the present:

The very day of my return, no sooner had I set foot in Barcelona than I real
ized the distance implied by an ocean and the deception, with regard to reck
oning time, involved with changing countries but not languages. I felt like a
foreigner in my own land, a completely uprooted being, but also, after a little
while, I confirmed that during those two years on the other side of the ocean

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