Catalan Review

La Literatura Com a Salvació i Com a Repressió.: Qüestions Nacionals al Voltant de Qüestió D'amor Propi de Carme Riera i D'aquells Cels de Bernardo Atxaga

Catalan Review (2009), 23, (1), 105–127.

Abstract

Bernardo Atxaga and Carme Riera are two internationally consolidated writers whose novels have attained great popularity among critics and readers. This fact is especially important from a national point of view, since they employ languages in particular sociolinguistic contexts: Basque and Catalan languages respectively. The cultural tensions between the Spanish State and nationalities, like the Basque Country and Catalonia, was a controversial issue —and it persists as such—in the first years of the democracy. In the eighties and nineties the cultural awakening after Francoism made it possible for writers like Atxaga and Riera to defend national positions from a literary field. In this article, I analyze the role that literature plays as a tool for the defense of Basque and Catalan culture in Bernardo Atxaga's Aquells cels and Carme Riera's Qüestió d'amor propi. From the field of comparative literature, I offer a close reading of this metaliterary aspect in these novels, conducting a close reading of the intertextual net that the authors create in order to defend national cultures. The literary references that appear in both novels are far from accidental; they are carefully selected to stimulate a particular reading: literature as salvation in Cels, and as repression in Qüestió. In Cels, the main character, a former ETA member, struggles to reintegrate into a repressive society. She finds a way to escape from the repressive Spanish apparatuses in the different literary books that she reads. Conversely, in Qüestió, literature is presented as a means of repression. Spanish literature is perceived as a powerful mechanism to erode the future of Catalan culture, personified in the character of the writer Àngela.

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Llinares, Jaume