The Idealization of Memory in Soldiers of Salamis
Linville, Rachel Ann, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies
The enormous popularity of Javier Cercas's novel Soldiers of Salamis (2001), based in part on the author's real investigations about a mysterious episode from the Spanish Civil War, led David Trueba to direct a cinematographic adaptation of the work in 2003. This study explores the aspects of the film and novel that create a more positive and united vision of Spain's past. Neither version portrays the fascist repression during or after the war and references to the uprising or the war use ambiguous terms that do not suggest violence. Soldiers of Salamis also idealizes collective memory by bridging the divide between republicans and fascists. Several aspects of the work, including the idea that victimhood due to the war was universal, portray the country as being more unified than it really was.
El éxito comercial de la novela de Javier Cercas, Soldados de Salamina (2001), que se basa en parte en las investigaciones reales del autor sobre un episodio misterioso de la Guerra Civil Española, le llevó a David Trueba a adaptarla al cine en 2003. Este estudio explora los aspectos de la película y novela que crean una visión más positiva y unida del pasado español. Ninguna de las versiones muestra la represión fascista durante o después de la guerra y las referencias a la sublevación y guerra usan términos ambiguos que no sugieren la violencia. Asimismo, Soldados de Salamina idealiza la memoria colectiva al sugerir que no había tanta división entre los bandos enfrentados. Varios aspectos de la obra, incluyendo la idea de que la victimización debido a la guerra fue universal, dibujan al país como más unificado de lo que era.
Soldiers of Salamis (2001), a novel by Javier Cercas, captures the author's real investigations into an episode from the Spanish Civil War: the failed attempt to execute Rafael Sánchez Mazas, a leader of the fascist party, the Falange Española. From the first page of the novel, the line between reality and fiction is blurred by the fact that the narrator's name is the same as the author's. The popularity of the novel led David Trueba to direct a cinematographic adaptation of the work in 2003. I will attempt to establish a dialogue between the novel and the film because many critics refer to one or the other, but their comments are often valid for both. Also, some aspects I will discuss are better appreciated in the film and others in the novel. One significant difference between the works is the protagonist's change of identity: Javier Cercas becomes Lola Cercas. What is lost with regard to the blurring of fiction and reality due to this change is recaptured by an element of artistry only possible in the film: Trueba uses a hand-held camera to intertwine reality and fiction.
In this study, I will analyse several aspects of the film and the novel, including the use of a hand-held camera, to explain how Soldiers of Salamis facilitates the creation of a more favourable and united image of Spain's history. Other aspects include the suggestion that victimization was universal and that forgiveness has led to the reunification of the 'two Spains'. The work also obviates the negative elements of the past and downplays the influence of Sánchez Mazas in the instigation of the military coup. The memory theory developed by Dominick LaCapra, Maurice Halbwachs, Juanjo Igartua and Dario Paez will aid the exploration of Soldiers of Salamis and the analysis of its relationship to collective memory.
Soldiers of Salamis has intrigued critics, who have explored various aspects of the novel and film. Carlos Yushimito del Valle views Cercas's novel as an exploration of the complex nature of humans, whose motivations can be contradictory. The objective is to confront 'las obras de dos hombres paralelos': 'la fina y aristocrática brutalidad del intelectual franquista con la del burdo miliciano', who allows Sánchez Mazas to escape and is suggested to be Antonio Miralles (2003). If Yushimito's article lacks a certain impartiality by classifying the republican side as 'el correcto' and the nationalist side as 'el incorrecto' and by oversimplifying the origins of the latter, his observation that Miralles' act of saving Sánchez Mazas makes him both a hero (for his magnanimous act) and a traitor (to his republican comrades) proves interesting.
Other critics have also analysed the games played with parallels, symmetries and simulations in the film and novel. José V. Saval points out several parallels and symmetries, including the fact that 'la simetría Machado-Sánchez Mazas acabará por convertirse, a través de la novela en un nuevo ente de oposición: Sánchez Mazas-Miralles' (2007: 65). Alexis Grohmann (2004) analyses the extent to which Cercas's digressive style and other narrative elements are indebted to Javier Marías. Grohmann identifies several similarities Cercas's novel shares with two by Marías, including the reproduction of photos or texts previously published, the identification of the narrator with the author, and the appearance of many characters, the majority of them writers, who exist in reality. Several of these aspects are simulations of second order which Juan Carlos Martín explores using Jean Baudrillard's theories.
Cercas emplea la simulación de segundo orden, anclada en una noción de representación realista, para borrar la frontera entre lo histórico y lo inventado, es decir, para difuminar lo real acontecido y lo imaginario, ya que el referente real que podía funcionar, según [Hayden] White, para distinguir lo histórico de lo puramente ficticio, se ve atacado ahora por la propia simulación, en un intento de fragmentar aún más la división entre ambos elementos. (Martín 2005: 49)
While Martín provides a thorough explanation, the issue of the relationship between these games of simulation and the memory Spaniards have of the Civil War remains to be explored. Several critics, including Hans-Jörg Neuschäfer, María Cristina C. Mabrey and Antonio Gómez López-Quiñones, have addressed aspects specific to memory and seem to applaud, in varying degrees, Cercas's attempt to better the relationship that Spaniards have with their past and the cohesion between the 'two Spains'. Mabrey proposes that Cercas 'intenta descorrer la cortina del silencio que cae sobre el pasado franquista' (2007-2008: n. pag.). Similarly, Hanno Ehrlicher, who suggests that Trueba articulates 'una forma de recuerdo nueva y consensual', voices a certain level of approval (2007: 294). Ehrlicher considers that Trueba's film has 'la ventaja de poder acabar con una disputa sobre la historia española antes de que haya comenzado realmente', but also points out the disadvantage that it excludes 'la búsqueda de las huellas objetivas de los muertos por considerarla, en definitiva, irrelevante e infructífera' (2007: 300). Regarding the proposed advantage, I will address the importance stressed by LaCapra that a viable and legitimate democracy should make critical attempts to address and come to terms with the past instead of basing itself on celebratory oblivion. Ehrlicher does not believe that the work is used for ideological purposes, but serves to institute 'un consenso donde no sólo no se excluye ninguna de las posiciones que combaten en la actual "batalla del recuerdo", sino que, además, con la figura de Miralles se integra incluso el exilio republicano en la comunidad de la memoria colectiva' (2007: 299-300). While it may be true that no group is excluded, it is also true - as I will illustrate below - that the role of Sánchez Mazas in the Civil War is strongly downplayed. With respect to the inclusion of exiled republicans, Mabrey has identified the irony in Lola's promise to return with her friends, introduce them to Miralles, and spend time together like a family: 'Miralles es ya anciano y su rostro pronostica su pronta desaparición; ya no queda apenas tiempo para que ni ciudadanos ni gobierno puedan colectivamente restituirle la dignidad que le arrebataron' (2007-2008: n. pag.).
Soldiers of Salamis forms part of a long list of works that address the Spanish Civil War and the antifascist resistance movement. After Sánchez Mazas escapes execution, he is aided by three republican soldiers, the 'friends of the forest' (los 'amigos del bosque'), who have abandoned their regiment. Fugitives (huidos), like these men, often formed resistance groups attempting to survive in rural and mountainous areas. They are considered by the historian Secundino Serrano (2003) the first step in the creation of an organized resistance. The 'friends of the forest', however, do not make the transition from fugitive to guerrilla.
From the demise of the resistance in the early 1950s to the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, novels published in Spain, such as La paz empieza nunca, tended to glorify the fascist victory and justify the violence necessary to achieve it.1 The decade that followed the dictator's death was marked by a period of amnesia. The guerrilla fighting is addressed in few novels and films and generally the attention it receives is superficial. In the mid-1980s, the concern that another coup could destroy the young democratic government was allayed and a decade later the 'pact of silence' - a tacit agreement between politicians not to use the past as a political weapon - was broken. These two factors have created a more conducive environment to publishing on Spain's past. Works on the resistance have increased over the past two decades and tend to be favourable to the republican side. Through a graphic portrayal of the fascist repression, they justify the formation of resistance groups. Conversely, Soldiers of Salamis, as I will attempt to show in this study, avoids or softens the violence and the division of the war and post-war years in a way that creates a more positive and unified image of the past.
The concept of idealizing a historical period is borrowed from the study by Juanjo Igartua and Dario Paez of the evolution of literary and cinematographic works that capture collective events. In the final stage, called 'idealized memory', 'the social group's actions are positively evaluated' (1997: 82). By 'idealized memory', Igartua and Paez do not mean a completely favourable representation of the past, but one that is less negative. By eluding or denying violent and other uncomfortable events, writers and directors influence the images that readers and spectators inscribe in their memory and in this way create a more positive collective memory.
The theory of collective memory is developed by Maurice Halbwachs, who explains that memory is collective because a person must place him or herself in a social framework to remember. His theory does not negate the idea that memory is personal to the extent that individuals have different recollections of a collectively experienced event. Halbwachs explains that '[w]hile the collective memory endures and draws strength from its base in a coherent body of people, it is individuals as group members who remember' (1980: 48). There are as many collective memories as there are groups and the collective memory of each will evolve as some members leave the group and others join. The recollections of members can comprise autobiographical and historical memory of an event. Halbwachs' concept of autobiographical memory refers only to the remembrances we have of experiences that we have lived through directly. For events we have not experienced directly, we acquire a historical memory of them by reading texts, hearing the testimony of those directly involved, or learning about them from other sources, such as film, television, music, etc.
For the virtual reader or spectator who approaches Soldiers of Salamis without any direct knowledge of the Spanish Civil War, the work becomes a representation of the past that allows him or her to acquire a historical memory of the war. By 'virtual', we mean that reader or spectator who, through different narrative representations of the war and the post-war era, can detect ideological and discursive contradictions and strategies directed intratextually at the implied reader or spectator.2 For that reason, the virtual reader or spectator does not depend only on what emanates from the text (the only angle available to the implied reader), but also on the subtle discursive, rhetorical, ideological, cultural and memorialistic details that contradict the coherence of the image that the text constructs for the implied reader. As opposed to the real reader or spectator (the individual actually reading the text or viewing the film), the virtual reader or spectator is the individual whom the author or director has in mind while creating his or her narration (Selden and Widdowson 1993: 50).
The violent repressions carried out during and after the war led many Spaniards to form traumatic recollections. According to LaCapra, the anxiety produced by a limit event, an extreme occurrence that produces trauma, is generally not dealt with in its entirety at the time of the event. This avoidance is a protection the mind produces to keep the individual from becoming overwhelmed, but the anxiety that is repressed returns to haunt the victim. LaCapra's theories on acting out and working through help us understand the process of trying to overcome traumatic remembrances. They also allow us to consider if Soldiers of Salamis enables readers and spectators with traumatic recollections of the war (acquired either directly through lived experiences or indirectly from other sources) to work though them. Acting out is the performative regeneration or reliving of the past as if it were fully present rather than represented in memory and inscription. The victim of a limit event does not control his or her recollections and these return hauntingly as the repressed. Examples of acting out include more or less controlled artistic procedures, like the creation of a novel or film, or uncontrolled existential experiences of hallucination, flashback and dream.
Working through is an articulatory practice: to the extent one works through trauma (as well as tranferential relations in general), one is able to distinguish between past and present and to recall in memory that something happened to one (or one's people) back then, while realizing that one is living here and now with openings to the future. (LaCapra 2001: 21-22)
A few examples of working through include mourning and modes of critical thought and practice, which allow a reinvestment in life. LaCapra considers acting out and working through strongly linked, but points out that the latter may never fully transcend the force of acting out and the repetition compulsion
The idea that a person can work through trauma related to 'one's people' refers to the extension of a trauma to the social group that shares a collective memory. LaCapra proposes that transference entails social contexts, including the family, school and nation, where personal relationships exist. LaCapra also relates the process of transference to the relationship between a historian (or other scholar) and a victim of a limit event. In these cases, one becomes emotionally involved in the witness and his or her testimony with the proclivity to act out a sentimental response to them.
Of the recent films and novels related to the war and the resistance, Soldiers of Salamis is one of the best examples of how collective memory is idealized.3 Neither version portrays the fascist repression during or after the war. Moreover, they create a more united collective memory by suggesting that victimhood was universal and that Sánchez Mazas did not really believe in the ideas he propagated in his inflammatory speeches. Likewise, the lack of interest several characters show with respect to history and their ambiguous references to the military uprising and the Spanish Civil War serve to gloss over the more negative aspects of Spain's violent past. Finally, the mixing of fact and fiction, as well as the evident preference for a good story over a historical investigation - despite the insistence that the latter is the objective of the work - influence how Spaniards view their past.
The open ending of Soldiers of Salamis suggests a diminished concern with history. We do not know if Miralles is the militiaman who saved Sánchez Mazas' life. When Lola is leaving, she asks Miralles if it was he, but he does not answer her. Instead, he tells the taxi driver to go. By refusing to tell what he knows, Miralles slides this part of history down the slope of oblivion and his attitude suggests a lack of interest in recovering the past.4 On the other hand, if Miralles is not the militiaman, it does not seem to be important to Lola or, in the novel, to the narrator Javier Cercas, because any republican hero is sufficient for him to finish his 'true story' ('relato real') (Jünke 2006: 121). Only after completing the third and final part of the novel can readers realize that what they have in their hands is the narrator's 'true story', a second attempt that is more literary (even metaliterary), and that satisfies the narrator Cercas.5 Yet, in order to finish his novel, he must invent the interview with Miralles. Thus, the importance of historical investigation becomes supplanted by the art of writing novels. This attitude can only present itself when ideological and political passions have subsided and the desire to recuperate the historical truth has diminished. Claudia Jünke recognizes this weakening in the article that appears in the film and novel:
El artículo refleja claramente una despolitización de la Guerra Civil por parte del narrador: no atribuye a la muerte del poeta republicano Machado un sentido distinto del que atribuye a la salvación del falangista Sánchez Mazas. A Cercas no le interesa la dimensión ideológico-política de estos sucesos sino que lo fascinan como materia para una historia bien narrada. (2006: 120)
Because they are responsible for the works they produced, Cercas and Trueba seem to indicate - just like their characters - that they are more interested in a well-constructed story than in a text that is limited to verifiable facts. In the same way that this preference points to the psychological distance that separates these artists from the historical moment portrayed, it highlights - due to the popularity of the works - the fact that readers and spectators capable of supposing that the story blends historical fact with fiction also feel this mental separation.
On one hand, this preference of Cercas and Trueba should not surprise us because the poetical, in accordance with Aristotle's proposal in Poetics ( Aristotle 1996), has traditionally been concerned with what could happen, whereas history deals with what has happened. Nevertheless, the work, especially the novel, leads the reader to believe that the narrator is interested in recovering a part of history that has been forgotten or silenced. This indication is reiterated when Bolaño proposes to the narrator Javier Cercas that he invent the interview with Miralles:
[Yo] no era un escritor de verdad, porque de haberlo sido me hubiera importado mucho menos poder hablar con Miralles que terminar el libro. Renunciando a recordarle de nuevo a Bolaño que mi libro no quería ser una novela, sino un relato real, y que inventarme la entrevista con Miralles equivalía a traicionar su naturaleza, suspire. (Cercas 2001: 170)
Despite the character Javier Cercas's claim that he is writing a 'true story' and the explanation that this is like a novel '[s]ólo que, en vez de ser todo mentira, todo es verdad', this objective is abandoned in favour of a more literary version (2001: 68). Although much of the novel is based on real events and Bolaño's Miralles really does exist (according to the author's confessions in Diálogos de Salamina (Cercas et al. 2003)), the connection between 'el antiguo luchador comunista' and the militiaman who saved Sánchez Mazas' life is purely literary.6 In his conversation with David Trueba in Diálogos de Salamina, the author explains that 'cuando tenía la novela a medias, pensé que el miliciano que salva la vida de Sánchez Mazas podía haber tenido una biografía como la de Miralles' (2003: 117). Trueba's explanation confirms what this comment suggests: 'Es decir, el personaje real del que te habla Bolaño se convirtió para ti en la solución literaria de tu novela' (117). Despite the repeated claim that Soldiers of Salamis is a 'true story', it is necessary to remember that 'there is no such thing as a real story. Stories are told or written, not found. And as for the notion of a true story, this is virtually a contradiction in terms. All stories are fictions' (White 1999: 9).
In the film adaptation, the use of a hand-held camera blurs the line between reality and fiction, which smooths the transition from a historical investigation to a purely literary account. The interviews that the protagonist Lola Cercas (Ariadna Gil) conducts to investigate the failed attempt to execute Rafael Sánchez Mazas are presented as authentic. The film calls the spectator's attention several times to the fact that those interviewed, Daniel Angelats and Joaquim Figueras (two of the three 'friends of the forest'), Joaquim's nephew Jaume Figueras, and Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio, are not actors but themselves.7 At the beginning of the film, the credits announce that the work includes 'los testimonios reales de Joaquim Figueras, Daniel Angelats, Jaume Figueras y Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio'. Likewise, the credits at the end indicate the name of the character in one column and the actor's name in another. The list includes Quim Figueras - 20 years old, Daniel Angelats - 20 years old, and Pere Figueras (for whom no age distinction is given because he is dead and only appears in the war scenes). This list makes it clear that actors played the 'friends of the forest' during the scenes that portray the end of the Spanish Civil War. Subsequently, there is a single column that comprises the following names: Joaquim Figueras, Daniel Angelats, Jaume Figueras and Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio. The fact that there are no actors that correspond to these names highlights once again that these individuals appear before the camera as themselves.
Some cinematographic aspects of these interviews also show an effort to underscore their authenticity. In these scenes one can appreciate the use of a hand-held camera or, at least, the simulation of the visual effects this technique would produce. The frame sometimes moves brusquely, simulating camera movement decided with urgency or, in other cases, the inability of the cinematographer (Javier Aguirresarobe) to stand completely still. Similarly, the abrupt zooms suggest decisions made while trying to capture testimonies that, supposedly, will not be repeated before the camera. In some instances the character moves, but the camera only follows him after the half-second necessary for A guirresarobe to react, which insinuates that he did not anticipate the character's movement. His 'lack of preparation' speaks to the immediacy of what is being filmed and gives the spectator the sensation of witnessing a scene that has not been rehearsed. Aside from these 'imperfections' of the frame, the zooms also create a feeling of authenticity in the interviews.
Although the image quality is less than perfect, 16mm cameras, which can be hand-held, offer the freedom necessary to capture events while they occur and, for that reason, they are associated with journalism and other schools of documentaries such as cinéma-vérité. For many documentarians, a perfect image would generate a lack of trust because it suggests the manipulation of the material by the director. In contrast to the beautiful images that the directors of fiction film capture, these documentarians consider that the beauty of their work lies in the authenticity of the events filmed (Giannetti 2005: 42).
The angle, location and lighting used in the interview scenes also demonstrate the director's preference for realism over formalism as a way to imply that Lola's consultations of historical witnesses are authentic. The interview with Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio, for example, takes advantage of the natural bright light in the park. The lighting in the Joaquim Figueras interview, apparently filmed at his home, is not very bright. The fact that there is no back lighting gives the impression that the only source of illumination is the natural light that filters into the house from outside. Finally, the eye-level shots used during the interviews are also associated with realism and suggest the authenticity of these scenes.
The blending of fact and fiction is masterfully achieved by the fact that the effects of a hand-held camera are not limited to the interview scenes. The aesthetic quality this camera would produce is also visible when Lola is sitting on the monument to the victims executed in Collell. Likewise, immediately after her interview with Joaquim Figueras, Lola and Miquel Aguirre find the order to release Pere Figueras from jail. This scene also shows an image in which the frame moves according to the slight imperfections that a hand-held camera produces. Also, after her interview with Chicho Sánchez Ferlosio, a bobbing frame captures Lola walking through the streets of Madrid. The juxtaposition of these scenes blurs the conventional line between reality and fiction because the aesthetic quality that a hand-held camera creates strengthens the sense of realism in the scenes in which only actors appear. Thus, we could say that Trueba transcribes Cercas's concept of a 'true story' not only to the plot but also to the image.
The use of a hand-held camera to transition from historical investigation to intriguing story aids in the construction of an idealized collective memory because it makes the discovery of Miralles and his supposed link to the militiaman appear authentic. Miralles' role in the (re-)construction of collective memory is principally due to the fact that he is representative of the republican side that lost the war. According to Antonio Gómez López-Quiñones, he incarnates 'todas las reparaciones, disculpas, agradecimientos y deudas que las sucesivas generaciones de españoles nunca saldaron con sus antepasados en el exilio' (2003: 120). The guilt that spectators feel about Spaniards forgotten in exile is supplanted by the favourable indications that Miralles has been found and as Lola promises, he will not be forgotten. By portraying this recognition of the republican side, the work creates a more positive and united image of the past.
Another aspect of the novel that shows a preference for forgetting or idealizing the past instead of delving into historical research is the narrator's comments about the fascist leader. Cercas doubts that Sánchez Mazas 'en su fuero interno, nunca en su vida haya creído en nada; y, menos que nada, en aquello que defendía o predicaba' (Cercas 2001: 138). These comments diminish the importance of Sánchez Mazas' speeches and the role this 'llameante retórica de choque' played to 'enardecer hasta la victoria al pelotón de soldados encargados de salvar la civilización' (136). Even when these speeches are recognized as a catalyst of the military coup, the references are ambiguous. Miralles, for example, indicates that 'por su culpa y por la de cuatro o cinco tipos como él había pasado lo que había pasado' (190). This imprecise allusion paints a more favourable impression in the memory of readers than terms that connote violence such as military uprising, war, reprisals, etc. Similarly, downplaying Sánchez Mazas' belief in the ideology he espoused crafts a more united collective memory by suggesting that there really was not that much animosity between republicans and fascists.
According to LaCapra, the evasion of problems of public recognition, mourning and the process of working though invite the return of the repressed. If atrocities are mitigated or avoided instead of recognized, it becomes impossible to participate in a process of mourning precisely because the need for that process is denied. When this process is blocked, the subject tends to becomes trapped in a state of melancholy, repetition compulsion and the acting out of the past. Thus, instead of helping the virtual reader or spectator who has traumatic memories to work through them, the suggestion that Sánchez Mazas' ideas and speeches were not influential serves as an impediment to this process. Likewise, this misrepresentation of an aspect of Spanish history would convey a distorted historical memory to a public that does not have autobiographical memory of the war or its aftermath.
Two final aspects that generate a more positive and united collective memory include the concept of universal victimization and the idea that forgiveness has restored harmony. The exposition of the attitude that everyone suffered due to the war idealizes the past by bridging the divide between republicans and fascists. It also proposes that there is no need to determine responsibility. This idea appears to be contrary to a serious consideration of the origins of the war because the indication that everyone was a victim diminishes the importance of the causes. In Soldiers of Salamis, the article that compares Antonio Machado with Rafael Sánchez Mazas turns Lola into the spokesperson for this attitude because she, as Jünke pointed out about the narrator Javier Cercas, does not attribute a different meaning to the death of Machado than she does to the salvation of Sánchez Mazas. Another case that alludes to equal victimhood between the republican and the fascist sides is Gastón's observation to Lola while looking at photographs from the Civil War: 'Parece cualquier guerra de ahora. Siempre pierden los mismos.' His comment (and the images) refer to 'the innocent' - women and children - who suffer regardless of their allegiance and even if they are incapable of favouring one side. The suggestion that the end result is always the same also decreases the importance of the causes. Finally, the idea that victimization was universal is noticeable in the descriptions that draw parallels between Sánchez Mazas and the fugitive republicans.
The author establishes, consciously or unconsciously, several parallels between Rafael Sánchez Mazas and the fugitive republican soldiers (Daniel Angelats and the Figueras brothers, Pere and Joaquim) that portray all four men as victims. The aspects they have in common include their status as fugitives, the hunger, fear and suffering they endure, and the poor condition of their clothing and person due to their fugitive status. The novel creates the parallels of all four men's fugitive state and poor physical condition through the description of their clothing. When Sánchez Mazas sees the republican soldiers, he realizes they are deserters because of their 'aire desharrapado [sic] de fugitivos y la disparidad sin disciplina de sus uniformes' (Cercas 2001: 112). Even if the novel does not explicitly describe Sánchez Mazas' clothes, they would probably be in a similar state after he falls in the mud and hides in the forest for several days.
Hunger is another aspect common to all four men. The deserters' lack of nourishment is evidenced by their behaviour when Daniel and Joaquim arrive at the Figueras' house: 'Mientras acosados a preguntas por la familia saciaban su hambre atrasada en compañía de Pere Figueras sin haberse siquiera despojado de sus uniformes de soldados' (Cercas 2001: 115, my emphasis). A similar situation occurs when Sánchez Mazas arrives at the Ferré's house. María 'le entregó la comida [y] le vio devorarla con un hambre de días' (107, my emphasis). The fascist leader's hunger is so severe that even when the girl's parents arrive, he prefers to reveal his true identity and face 'el riesgo hipotético de una delación que el riesgo real de una muerte de hambre y frío' (107).
In addition to the parallels between the republican deserters and the fascist leader, the repetitive descriptions of the militiaman as he decides Sánchez Mazas' fate also show some connections to the representations of the 'friends of the forest' and the Falange Party's ideologue. The narrative captures the poor state of his attire. Sánchez Mazas 'lo recuerda o cree recordarlo entre los soldados harapientos' (103). It is also indicated that his uniform is 'raído de intemperie' (103). The hunger that hounds the 'friends of the forest' and Sánchez Mazas accentuates the features of the militiaman's face. The anonymous soldier has 'las mejillas chupadas y los pómulos salientes' (103).8 Finally, the soldier and Sánchez Mazas are described as 'jadeando' and 'jadeante', respectively, and in a certain sense the militiaman is also a fugitive because he has to cross into France before the fascist troops overtake his battalion (120 and 102).
These multiple parallels lead the virtual reader or spectator to identify the fascist ideologue with the 'friends of the forest' (and perhaps with the soldier who saves his life, too). In this way, Sánchez Mazas is considered to be as much a victim as the republicans. By equating the victimization of one side with the other, Soldiers of Salamis suggests that suffering due to the war was universal. This interpretation of the conflict corresponds with a more distant and depoliticized vision of the past and, at the same time, it is a view that does not try to consider the causes of the war. Thus, by throwing a thick veil over Spain's recent history, Soldiers of Salamis appears to continue a tendency that the Transition and the pact of silence sanctioned. This way of dealing with the past, however, does not advance the process of working through because the silence imposed tends to lead the victim of a limit event to think more about a traumatic incident, but without resolving it (Pennebaker and Banasik 1997: 10-11). The same could be said about the virtual reader or spectator who does not experience trauma due to a limit event lived directly, but because of transference. For the readers and spectators who do not have autobiographical memory of the war and its aftermath and do not have traumatic recollections of these periods, the work allows them to develop a historical memory and leads them to form an idealized view of the years portrayed.
The representation of both sides as victims does not help to resolve trauma for another reason. The objective of the process of working through is to move the subject from the state of victim to that of survivor or agent (LaCapra 1998: 136). Thus, it becomes possible to consider that Soldiers of Salamis represents the process of acting out due to the emphasis placed on the victimization of Sánchez Mazas and the republican soldiers. In fact, the descriptions of their suffering and poor condition are repeated several times. Therefore, this aspect of the work explains another reason why it does not help a reader or spectator with traumatic recollections to overcome them. According to LaCapra, celebratory oblivion cannot be the basis of a viable and legitimate democracy. Critical attempts must be made to come to terms with the past (1994: 74). At the same time, the idea that forgiveness has been achieved - to which we will now turn our attention - suggests that mourning is not necessary. This negation opens the path to act out indefinitely the aspects of the past that have not been resolved in an attempt to create a positive national identity in the present. This attempt is condemned to fail because what has not been worked through returns to create new sources of disorientation and misguided action in the present and future.
Some critics, such as Hans-Jörg Neuschäfer, have applauded the work's attempt to remedy the division among Spaniards. Although Neuschäfer believes that Cercas does not necessarily want to revise history, he does consider that the book expresses the desire to 'liberarse por fin de aquel double bind ancestral': that of the 'two Spains' (2006: 152, emphasis original). The reunification of a divided Spain is implied by the act of forgiveness that the militiaman carries out: he saves Sánchez Mazas' life. Miralles' universal character (as representative of the republican side) and the details that suggest that he is the anonymous militiaman elevate the individual pardon that this soldier grants to one of the most important fascist ideologues to a grander scale.9
Soldiers of Salamis portrays this individual act as a massive pardon that saves civilization, which in the context of Spanish history could be understood as the reunification of a divided country. The title of the work makes reference to the Battle of Salamis, which led to a Greek victory over the Persians that has been interpreted by historians such as Peter Green (1970) and Barry Strauss (2004) as having saved Western civilization.10 The title appears to call Miralles and the 'friends of the forest' soldiers of a modern Battle of Salamis. In this case, it is not a military victory that saves civilization but an act of forgiveness. None of these men turns in Sánchez Mazas and, thus, they save his life. The parallel established between the Greek victory and the pardon the ideologue receives equates the latter to the salvation of civilization. In the novel, the protagonist's thoughts reiterate this idea. The narrator observes that Miralles 'estaba salvándonos a todos' when he saved Sánchez Mazas' life (Cercas 2001: 196). '[L]a civilización pendía de él, estaba salvándola y salvándonos' (196). This interpretation suggests that the militiaman's act of forgiveness was the first step towards a pardon between the opposing sides and the reunification of the country, a pardon and union that, according to some historians, including Javier Tussell (2000), the Transition facilitated.11
In contrast, others, such as Viçent Navarro, criticize this view, and Francisco Espinosa (2006) highlights the important role that the tacit pact has played in leading Spaniards towards historic oblivion.12 To counteract the tendency towards silence and oblivion, the Spanish Congress passed a proposition to name 2006 the Year of Historic Memory, but members of the Popular Party manifested their opposition to the proposal. According to the article 'El Partido Popular contra el año de la memoria', '[e]l diputado del PP Manuel Atencia argumentó su voto contrario a la propuesta de IU-ICV en que se trata de "un error escarbar en el pasado" y supone "un ataque frontal al pacto constitucional y al consenso de la transición"' (Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica 2006).
Miralles' attitude in the novel and film also insinuate that he does not want to stir up the past. Although he knows that Lola is looking to resolve the mystery about Sánchez Mazas' execution, he does not show any interest in remembering the war or the execution, nor does he want to share what the work suggests he knows.13 Instead, he seems happier not just forgetting but denying this because, despite the many details that allude to him being the person that saved Sánchez Mazas' life, he denies any involvement. The way in which the narrator presents Miralles' response serves to propose once again that he is the militiaman, but he does not want to acknowledge this fact: 'creía que Miralles no podía negarme la verdad' (Cercas 2001: 204). Thus, in the film as well as in the novel, Miralles' attitude suggests that the war is an event that he prefers not to recall.
As the taxi drives Lola away after Miralles refuses to answer her question, she says to herself that she will return and bring her friends. Three time she repeats 'no me olvidaré de usted' and then she adds 'no dejaré que se olviden de usted'. The penultimate scene shows Lola in the bus returning to Spain. She begins to write a second version of her story, which will include Miralles. The film ends by returning once again to the image of the militiaman singing and dancing 'Suspiros de España'. The spell this image creates and the national unity that the pasodoble alludes to are transmitted through the background music that captures only a piano rendition of the song and the sound of the rain. The close-up shots and slow motion used in this presentation of the militiaman's performance transform it into an almost mystical experience and identify him once again with Miralles.14 With his eyes closed, indicating his detachment from the violence that surrounds him, he dances with his rifle as if it were a woman. This blissful union is paralleled by the reunification of fascists and republicans enchanted by the performance. Even as he opens his eyes the feeling of unity and harmony remain as evidenced by his broad smile and cheerful gaze.
'Suspiros de España' was used in an earlier film, ¡Ay Carmela!, to represents the union of fascists and republicans. Carmela's interpretation of the pasodoble creates 'la supresión momentánea y pasajera de la crueldad del contexto histórico- político a favor de un estado de comunidad apolítico y emocional' (Jünke 2006: 109). 'La canción patriótica popular sobre el amor y el ansia de España, se convierte en el punto de referencia de una identificación colectiva más allá de todas las diferencias político-ideológicas, en la evocación utópica de una identidad nacional compartida' (110). In Soldiers of Salamis the interpretation of 'Suspiros de España' also connects the opposing sides because both the republican soldiers and the fascist prisoners are captivated by the spell that the militiaman and his song create. While he dances and sings in the rain at Collell, both sides are momentarily distracted from the hardships of war and the hiatus between the groups dissipates. For these two sides to reunite and coexist harmoniously, forgiveness is necessary. While the song endures, it is as if a temporary pardon is in effect, allowing fascists and republicans to bridge their differences. A more permanent forgiveness is achieved when the militiaman 'saves civilization' by pardoning Sánchez Mazas from execution. Because the militiaman gives voice to this song he becomes the vessel of forgiveness and unity. Thus, the image created by the soldier and his performance idealize the past in a way that produces a more unified and positive collective memory.
The inclusion of Miralles and the militiaman in Soldiers of Salamis invites us to remember them and the repetitive descriptions further strengthen the images the virtual reader and spectator inscribe in their memory. Collective memory is continually in flux. It changes as new members join a group and others leave it. It is also influenced by the sources (texts, films, etc.) that affect its members' recollection of the past. In Soldiers of Salamis, the perception created of the past is idealized by the evasion or distortion of the causes of the war and the resistance movement, the suggestion that victimization was universal, and the idea that forgiveness has led to the reunification of a divided country. Likewise, the use of a hand-held camera, to the extent that it facilitates the mixing of fact and fiction and the suggestion that Miralles has been found and recognized, also participates in the creation of a more favourable and unified image of Spain's history.
1 I use the words 'fascism' or 'fascist' as a synonym of 'Francoism' or 'Francoist', invoking the terms used by the republicans during the Civil War, with the exception that Francoism was not in a strict sense fascism in the Italian mode, but a repressive and dictatorial regime that was ultraconservative, neocolonialist, militaristic, traditional and Catholic. For a discussion of Franco's connections to fascism see 'The Making of a Caudillo: August- November 1936' and 'The Making of a Dictator: Franco and the Unificación, April 1937', in Franco by Paul Preston (1993).
2 'Implied reader' is different from 'virtual reader' in that, as well as the explicit mention of the 'reader', the term is used to refer to the reader inscribed in the text, including the subtle discursive, rhetorical, ideological, cultural and memorialistic details. According to Edward Mozejko, the 'implied reader', whom he calls the 'virtual receiver', 'is determined by the structure of the text [and] prompts the latter to be read in a particular way' (1993: 207).
3 I n my dissertation on the literary and film representations of the anti-fascist resistance movement, I identify five periods in the evolution of the works which are similar to the ones Igartua and Paez discuss. However, with regard to the representations of the resistance movement, there are two groups in the fifth period. Some novels and films are comedies or metafictions, like Soldiers of Salamis, and paint a more positive picture of the past. Other works choose a more serious or traditional approach and do not idealize Spain's recent history.
4 I n Sangrías Españolas y terapias de Vichy (in press) and 'Memorias y olvidos' (2006: 11) José María Naharro Calderón highlights the incongruence of the heroic humility of Miralles in 1983 when the 'Amicales' (or associations) of former republican combatants in France experienced their apogee. The novel clearly follows the plot of the unknown origin of Rosebud in Citizen Kane.
5 As David F. Richter (2004) and Luis García Jambarina (2004) indicate, the second part of the novel, which is also called 'Soldiers of Salamis', is the narrator's first attempt to write his 'true story'. This part, which seems more like a purely historical text because the narrator does not intervene in it as a character, leaves the protagonist Cercas dissatisfied. The film condenses it into the scenes showing Lola writing the text and another in which Conchi reads and critiques the draft.
6 Naharro Calderón finds the historical trick of the novel in the relationship with Bolaño (2005: 10).
7 In the novel the narrator interviews Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, but in the film Sánchez Mazas' other son, José Antonio (Chicho), tells his father's story.
8 The sentences that describe his uniform and face are repeated on page 120.
9 Miralles and the militiaman were in Collell and like the same pasodoble, 'Suspiros de España'.
10 Green explains that the Greek victory is frequently described as a 'fundamental turning point in European history' and points out that 'advocates of this view don't quite argue that today, had things gone the other way, mosques and minarets would dominate Europe, but you can sense the unspoken thought in the air' (1970: xxiii).
11 Other critics have offered different interpretations of the work's relationship to the Battle of Salamis. Carlos Yushimito del Valle views the battle that Miralles and his comrades waged in Africa against the Nazis as a modern Salamis. María Cristina C. Mabrey, however, proposes that a relationship is created between the Battle of Salamis and the Spanish Civil War which suggests that 'los españoles de hoy saben tan poco de la una como de la otra' (2007-2008: n. pag.).
12 For more about the relationship between collective forgetting and the 'pact of silence', see Fernández 1996 and Resina 2001. Also regarding the Transition see Vilarós 1998 and Gallego 2008. With respect to Javier Cercas's novel, the narrator manifests his disenchantment with the Transition in the following observation: 'Y una gran mierda para la Transición' (2001: 175).
13 A lthough Miralles names the young men who fought with him and died in the war, these details are only tangentially related to the information Lola seeks. The fact that Miralles remembers their names shows that they are part of a traumatic memory. Miralles acknowledges that he thinks about them every day, which suggests that he has not overcome this trauma and the act of recalling them is not an example of working through the past, but acting it out. It is possible that Miralles feels guilty for having survived. If this is the case, by acting out the past Miralles tries not to betray his comrades.
14 I n addition to the fact that Miralles acknowledges having been in Collell (where the attempted execution occurred on 30 January 1939) and having crossed into France on 31 January, the song 'Suspiros de España' is another element that suggests that he is the militiaman who saved Sánchez Mazas' life. Gastón's essay about Antonio Miralles captures Lola's attention and leads her to think that Miralles is the anonymous militiaman. He was in the First Mixed Brigade led by Enrique Lister, which was precisely the unit to which the militiaman belonged. In a video Gastón made, Lola observes Miralles, now older, dancing a pasodoble, 'Suspiros de España', the same song that allows Sánchez Mazas to recognize the soldier who does not turn him in because he saw him dance and sing this song one day in the rain. As Lola finishes the essay, the image of the soldier cocking his rifle and pointing it at Sánchez Mazas is repeated. This juxtaposition captures Lola's thoughts and suggests that Miralles is the anonymous militiaman. Lola searches for Miralles and finds him in a senior citizens' residence in Dijon.
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Rachel Ann Linville
The College at Brockport (SUNY)…