Fantastic Doubles in Cristina Fernández Cubas' Tales for Children
Kathleen M. Glenn
A number of contemporary Spanish women writers who are known for their adult fiction have also written for children: Carmen Martin Gaite, Ana Maria Matute, Dolores Medio, Ana María Moix, Rosa Montero, and Esther Tusquets, as well as Cristina Ferández Cubas. 1 This last author is of special interest because of the intrinsic merit of her work for children and the fact that it has received relatively little critical attention. Fernández Cubas' narratives for young readers and listeners present in simplified form the major concerns that are characteristic of her novels and stories for adults, and they utilize many of the same strategies, devices, and symbols. The juvenile fiction thus affords a vision in miniature of this writer's fictive world.
To date, Fernández Cubas has published three collections of stories for adults--Mi hermana Elba ( My Sister Elba, 1980), Los altillos de Brumal ( The Attics of Brumal, 1983), El ángulo del horror ( The Angle of Horror, 1990)--and one novel, El año de Gracia ( The Year of Grace, 1985). El vendedor de sombras( The Seller of Shadows) appeared in 1982 and Cris y Cros( Cris and Cros) in 1988. The brevity and comparative simplicity of these last two texts (of twelve and thirty-six pages, respectively) cast into high relief many of the features of Fernández Cubas' work as a whole. The phenomenon of doubling is central in her fiction, as she has acknowledged (personal interview). The idea that the self is a coherent, stable, and unified whole is subverted, and the boundary between self and other is blurred. The titular characters of "Lúnula y Violeta" are inverted images of one another, and complementarity is evident in their relationship. El año de Gracia contains multiple instances of doubling--literary, photographic, pictorial, and structural--and in "Helicón" sets of twins, real and imaginary, human and non-human, proliferate. The theme of doubling is initially treated humorously in this last story, with its description of an egg that contains two yolks that are dropped into the kitchen sink. One splatters to bits while the other slides elegantly down the drain. The anecdote encapsulates the paradox of doubling: the simultaneous duality and unity, distinction and identity of two