Madrid 1900: The Capital as Cradle of Literature and Culture

Madrid 1900: The Capital as Cradle of Literature and Culture

Madrid 1900: The Capital as Cradle of Literature and Culture

Madrid 1900: The Capital as Cradle of Literature and Culture

Synopsis

"Madrid 1900 assesses the cultural history of Madrid and its relation to the cultural history of Spain through examining the literature written in and on Madrid at the turn of the nineteenth century. The center for Spanish national identity, turn-of-the-century Madrid offered a haven for young writers to try out their ideas and launch their careers. Ugarte traces the history of this writerly consciousness in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, combining historical, biographical, and literary sources. The major theoretical underpinnings of the study center on a wedding of historical and biographical information to textual analyses. Ugarte draws on ideas and models from a variety of theorists ranging from Marxists and New Historicists to theorists of narratology. Of particular timeliness as we approach a new century, Madrid 1900 gives special consideration to the cultural transition from an old century to a new one and how the re-creation of a city - any city - contributes to the formation of consciousness." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In one of Julio Cortázar's typically ingenious short stories, "La autopista del sur" (South highway), automobiles in all their shapes, colors, and models inform the postmodern urban reality. At the outskirts of Paris, thousands of cars are lined up one behind the other, eight rows across. They cannot complete the final few kilometers to their Paris destination for a reason unbeknown to the characters or readers, other than the intuited or unquestioningly received explanations: an accident, construction, "abnormal" excess of cars on the highway (as if the number of autos in any post-World War II city were ever under control). Cortázar playfully explores the possibility of the traffic jam's continuation for days, weeks, months as the characters create a community of stranded motorists with their vehicles as the central family or group unit; they enter into relationships of exchange in which necessities are provided, decisions are made, and psychological support in time of hardship is freely offered.

The urban, or in this case suburban, community of motorists is imaginary, something of a utopia in relation to the reality of an uncaring, alienating city. After a time (the duration of which is never clear), the traffic congestion seems miraculously to subside and the automobiles begin to inch forward, at first slowly and eventually at full throttle resuming the stream of movement that the characters (and autos) were accustomed to before the jam. Paris, the point of arrival, the driving force (as it were) of the entire situation, always looms in the background, both within reach and out of reach. One of the characters gazes long-

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