Theatrical Heterotopics in Martín Gaite's Backroom: A Spatial Approach to a pre-Novel and a pre-Nation

Dr Kevin Gaugler
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Much has been said about metafiction in Carmen Martín Gaite's 1977 novel, "El cuarto de atrás". Any critical reader notes the book's own coming-into-being through a dialogical exchange between characters in the implicit author's apartment. However, relationships between the novel's narrative structures to the socio-cultural make up of the 'destape' of Spain still warrant further exploration. The novel's overt metafictional framework echoes Spain's re-creation of itself from a Francoist regime to a democracy.

Indeed, Martín Gaite wrote during a delicate moment of the transition when Alfonso Suárez, a newly appointed Prime Minister, played a key role in the 'ruptura pactada', the cautiously negotiated break with Francoism. What's more, in this pre-constitutional society, carefully orchestrated transactions between parties had to reorder and rewrite the laws of the old regime into the principles of a radically different form of government. By October 21 of 1977 Communists, Socialists and Francoists completed a forty-page document known as the 'Pactos de Moncloa', named for the residence and office of the Prime Minister where the negotiations for a democratic society occurred.

The Moncloa Pacts symbolized a coming-together of former enemies who wrote-into-being Spain's 'nuevo comienzo'.

Martín Gaite's 'El cuarto de atrás', written during the same reconciliatory period of post-Francoist Spain, is also named after the residence of a structurally similar closed-door meeting that seemingly improvises itself into existence.

This study explores the work's limited setting and its metaphorical link to a theatrical stage as it relates the novel's metafictionality to a new nation that rejected Francoist notions of una 'democracia orgánica' through and open process of drafting and redrafting nationhood.

Keywords: Theatrical Heterotopics, Carmen Martín Gaite Backroom, Spatial Approach to a pre-Novel
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Theatrical Heterotopics in Martín Gaite's Backroom

Dr Kevin Gaugler

Assistant Professor of Spanish, Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, Marist College

Ref: H05P0046