Mirror, Mirror on the Page

Identity and Subjectivity in Spanish Women's Poetry (1975-2000)
Michael W. Mudrovic
Lehigh University Press - Mirror Mirror on the Page
Spanish poetry written by women began to flourish in the years following the death of Francisco Franco in 1975 and continued well through the next two decades. In many instances these poets portray another female figure in the text, suggesting that the page functions as a mirror for the woman who is writing. Through an interplay of similarity and differences with the reflected image, poets use the page to "reflect" on their identity and subjectivity, and to inscribe themselves in the new, democratic Spain as both poets and women. Mirror, Mirror on the Page proffers an in-depth investigation of works by eight poets to demonstrate the function of the page as mirror.
Some of the works chosen for analysis are "canonical" texts in twentieth-century Spanish poetry, whereas others are less well known and less widely distributed in the lyric context. All exemplify different tendencies synchronically while racing a diachronic shift in emphasis as women's position in democratic Spain has evolved and grown. On the one hand, María Victoria Atencia's Marta & María, Ana Rossetti's Los devaneos de Erato, Blanca Andreu's De una niÑa de provincias, and Luisa Castro's Los versos del eunuco have attained wide readership. In comparison, Allmudena Guzmán's Usted, Margarita Merino's Baladas del abismo, Amalia Bautista's Cárcel de amor, and Maite Pérez Larumbe's Mi nombre verdadero are less well known. Nonetheless, each of these works takes a different approach to the page as mirror and exemplifies the versatility of this approach to writing and reading these poems. Whether portraying an historical figure such as Lou Andreas-Salomé, biblical women such as Martha and Mary, literary figures such as Diotima or Emma Bovary, mythological characters, or even male figures, a "dialogue" between the implied author and the figure represented in the poem leads to rejection and/or acceptance of different roles, personalities, social positions, and life possibilities for women in contemporary Spain.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s women like Atencia and Rossetti attempt to ease their way out of Franco-era ideals of women by revealing double standards that prejudice women and limit them to more traditional roles. In the mid-1980s a new generation of women who come of age in the democratic era confront patriarchal structures still in place. They attack these structures with anger and resentment as evident in the works of Andreu, Castro, and Guzmán. As this movement gains momentum, the tone, expectations, and self-conceptualizations of women change in accord with a greater sense of autonomy and empowerment. Margarita Merino attacks provincial attitudes, whereas Amalia Bautista is bittersweet in her portrayals of women seeking to expand their sphere of activity. Maite Pérez Larumbe's re-vision of biblical women provides a fascinating comparison with Atencia as she looks at Martha and Mary and opens new possibilities for women through the redefinition of self and others.
As a book-length study of a pervasive theme in poetry of several Spanish women, this work will be a valuable resource and contribute to the discussion of post-Franco Spanish poetry.
9781611460377 (R&L)
9780934223843 (AUP)
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