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To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Her novel, in very much the same vein as Mrs. And the narrative itself requires that one remember through a process of exchange and interaction with an interlocutor. In the first pages of the novel we find a woman protagonist who from the depths of her refuge seeks to narrate her past through an art of memory.

But we find that this attempt to articulate her past is frustrated due to the fact that, perhaps, she has nobody to whom the story can be told.

There are many articles and books that have been written on the mysterious appearance of the man dressed in black. To many critics this sudden appearance justifies identifying the novel partly as a fantastic novel. The protagonist can be seen as the transmitter of an oral discourse, a discourse that had been confined to the private space of the household up until the death of Franco.

But El Cuarto suggests these private spaces not only provided the citizens with a physical refuge from the terror of the dictatorship, but also functioned as ref- uges for memories, imagination and dreaming. But not all contacts between men are broken and not all human capacities destroyed.

The whole sphere of private life with the capacities for experience, fabrication and thought are left intact. In the Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt argued that an exclusively pri- 8. Interesting comparisons can be made to other women writers use of private space as a refuge during dictatorial regimes. These pages, of course, are the story she begins to unravel as she speaks to the interlocutor — a story which, by the end of the novel will be revealed as the novel itself.

INTERIORS In the course of the novel, the protagonist is able to piece together her past and organize it into a coherent narrative — a process which allows her to con- stitute her own identity. But the recovery of the past not only happens through her interaction with the interlocutor but also through the objects the mirrors, What the protagonist of the novel seems to achieve throughout her narration is to write the history of every mark and scratch of the particular interiors she has inhabited and at the same time capture specific historical moments through a sort of collective memory.

In this case, the bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms that are evoked and used as vehicles for her imagination and for writing are places where women have lived in the past rooms with no privacy whose walls can be said to be permeated by their creative force. This public sphere of private persons was the medium by which the new middle class articulated its resistance to feudal political domination.

This public sphere, in principle, was to be accessible to everyone. Within it a process of critical debate would These open spaces of discussion would then allow the public to come to consensus about what was practically necessary and in the general interest — allowing this public not only to eventually assert control over political authority, but also, perhaps, to transform the nature of political au- thority itself.

Moreoever, while the bourgeois public spheres of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries largely overlooked gender issues, it is also true, as Seyla Benhabib, and Habermas himself, have argued, that the public sphere is a self-transcending institution — that, in the twentieth century, the very gender arrangements which the early bourgeois public sphere presumed as a matter of course become the object of political debate.

This is exactly what El cuarto depicts. But most importantly, resistance to the dominant regime happens precisely through subjects constituting them- selves as private subjects, whose identities are not dependent on the dominant regime. What is important here is that new ideas about writing, memory and history are produced not only by the individ- ual writer but out of a process of exchange between the writer and interlocutor.

The protagonist chooses to occupy her own private space. The back- room becomes a kind of public sphere, in which an oral discourse is broadcast far beyond the walls of the home. As the child enters this private space she immediately feels enclosed and repressed by the atmosphere of the house. The use of private space by her grandmother evokes the mid-Victorian age where the house was necessarily a battlefield — a place where daily, summer and winter, mistress and maid fought against the dirt and cold for cleanliness.

El cuarto shows that the idea of the Angel of the Home is not simply a general gender ideology, but one put to specific use by Franco. For the regime is inter- ested in relegating women to the private space of the home for political, as well as gender, ideological reasons. The novel shows that Francoism involves an ef- fort to colonize private space, and thereby erode possible sources of resistance. According to the protagonist, women were the ones who felt most acutely the repressive apparatus of the regime: for Francoism represented the end of the emancipatory efforts undertaken during the years of the Republic.

Her desire for a garret can be read as a desire for a dif- have as their patriotic task is the home. This is a space which the children inhabited freely and which stood in stark contrast to the uses of backrooms during the Franco years as waiting rooms devoid of any sense of publicness.

In this space, the rules of order did not apply — that is, they were free to use the space in an alternative way. The children did not feel the need to venture outside of the home because they could find freedom in the back room of the house. With the beginning of the war, this changes. This change in the use of the space of the back room happens gradually until the children are displaced from the room and their childhood is taken over by the world of the adults, that is, by the conditions that emerge from the war: With the disappearance of the back room the child is then forced out of pure necessity to look for alternative spaces in which she can exercise her need for freedom.

The child visits the storefront continuously and stares at the set of porcelain dishes through the window with longing.

In colonizing the back room, the kitchen has also extended the logic of necessity into the deepest recesses of the house. Even the backroom has been made unsuitable as a refuge for creativity and imagination. Faced with the loss of even this last fugitive physical space, the children invent a fictive one, and the process of invention itself involves a process of interaction and collabora- tion between the two girls — that is, a kind of public sphere. The differences are For the protagonist of M.

He knows instinctively that this space identified with his solitude is creative; that even when it is forever expunged from the present, when, henceforth, it is alien to all the promises of the future, even when we no longer have a garret, when the attic room is lost and gone, there remains the fact that we once loved a garret, once lived in an attic. The writer does not only hide out in her refugio — this refugio also helps her achieve a critical theoretical distance which enables her to read her past and the past of Spain.

Domestic utopias such as the backroom, the attic and the island of Bergai become the models for alternative conceptions of the political, at a point when Franco has crushed all the other available public models. When the tyrant Re-telling the stories of these private experiences, of the imagination and creativity which continued to flourish within these real and imagined private spaces, becomes a resource for a new publicness.

The means for this renewal is literature. Related Papers. By Debra Ochoa. By Michael Martinez-Raguso. Who Is in the Back Room? By Sarah Harris.

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Screening El Cuarto De Atras: Carmen Martin Gaite's Hollywood Escritor Negro

View Larger Image. Synopsis: Durante una noche de insomnio, la escritora recibe la visita de un desconocido interlocutor cuya identidad permanecera oculta en todo momento Los recuerdos de infancia y juventud en Salamanca se iran mezclando con sus reflexiones sobre los suenos, el amor, la escritura o la memoria. El cuarto de atras es un ensayo sobre el oficio de escribir, un libro de memorias y una novela fantastica. Pero, por encima de todo ello, es una larga conversacion. Todos los libros de Carmen Martin Gaite son una conversacion, pues para ella escribir nunca fue distinto a hablar.


El cuarto de atras

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El Cuarto De Atras

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