La pieza ausente de una memoria olvidada

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Allison Garrison (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Carmen Sotomayor

Abstract: In my thesis I would like to explore the effect of collective memory on the recreation of the shooting of Rafael Sánchez Mazas in the novel Soldados de Salamina by Javier Cercas. In his novel, Javier Cercas plays the role of the narrator and protagonist. He becomes interested in the story of the shooting of Rafael Sánchez Mazas, a Nationalist political figure in Spain. Cercas is searching for personal testimonies of other characters in the novel to write about the assassination of Sánchez Mazas, and Cercas as the author utilizes collective memory as a technique and underlying theme of the novel to retrieve these memories. The act of remembering a person, place or action is important for contemporary Spanish society because censorship inhibited many parts of its history from being revealed in its true light. Collective memory is a process used to regenerate "forgotten" history and is defined by Antonio Gómez López-Quiñones, (author of La guerra persistente,) as a social performance that is made possible by combining certain acts and processes (96), which means a child can receive a memory that has been "prepared, planned, and rehearsed socially" (96). An example of this would be how Franco, during his dictatorship, decided how Spain's history would be portrayed in textbooks by providing a biased outlook and refusing to acknowledge varying opinions and by chastising those would felt differently. The concept of collective memory is the process that leads to the recuperation of memory as seen in post-civil war novels in Spain. Eloy E. Merino and H. Rosi Song in their book Traces of Contamination. Unearthing the Francoist Legacy in Contemporary Spanish Discourse show the importance of these collective acts of memory because, according to them, "Our elders' authority is no longer sufficient reason for us to unquestioningly accept" the past that has been described to us. This mean that the memories of people who lived during the war are passed down to their children and grandchildren. These memories are being questioned now by the children and grandchildren because there are two sides to every story. What is the significance of Cercas choosing Sánchez Mazas as the protagonist for his narrative? I want to show in my thesis that Cercas uses the collection of memories and personal testimonies (resources of memories like diaries, public records, oral stories and testimonial literature) of the characters in his novel as a process to regenerate this forgotten history of Sánchez Mazas, an important political figure that not many people remember nowadays. Through his search to find out the story of Sánchez Mazas, he discovers information about a man named Miralles, who may be the soldier that saved Sánchez Mazas. This creates two sides to his collective story: that of the "villain" Sánchez Mazas, and that of the "hero" Antoni Miralles. Cercas is attempting to give validity to the process of collective memory and of recuperation of memory, which is important to Spain's present day society because Spaniards are in the process of uncovering parts of their recent history. I would like to investigate if the process of collective memory is effective in relation to the novel and the interpretations that can be derived from it.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Collective Memory, Javier Cercas, Rafael Sánchez Mazas, Soldados de Salamina, Spanish Civil War
Cercas, Javier, $d 1962- $t Soldados de Salamina $x Criticism and interpretation
Sa´nchez-Mazas, Rafael, $d 1894-1966 $x Criticism and interpretation
Collective memory and literature $z Spain
Spain $x History $y Civil War, 1936-1939 $x Literature and the war

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