Spectral Spain

Haunted Houses, Silent Spaces and Traumatic Memories in Post-Franco Gothic Fiction

Author(s) Heidi Backes

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: Gothic Literary Studies

  • May 2024 · 272 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Hardback - 9781837721269
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781837721276
  • · eBook - epub - 9781837721283

About The Book

Spectral Spain examines the Gothic haunting motif in post-Franco Spanish literature. With a theoretical framework in memory and trauma studies, and a particular emphasis on the inclusion of women’s voices, this book is the first to provide an in-depth study of spectrality and haunting in the Gothic literature of contemporary Spain. Through close readings of eleven main texts, the author examines haunting as the perfect motif for Spanish authors to portray the tension between modernity and the imposition of a monocultural, nationalised tradition throughout the twentieth century – noting not just the trauma of the civil war and resulting dictatorship of Franco, but also the continuing and widespread disenchantment during and after the Transition. Through its references to the contemporary debate surrounding historical memory, Spectral Spain demonstrates the relevance of the Gothic in Spanish literature, and the continued ghostly returns of the past in the socio-political anxieties of the present.


‘Spectral Spain is not only an eloquent vindication to the pervasiveness of Gothic tropes (haunted houses, silent spaces and traumatic memories) in Spanish Contemporary Fiction, but also a compelling read – fast-paced, gracefully written and always insightful. Every single text covered by the author feels ultimately reborn, like a much-needed resurrection, that instead of frightening us joins the gathering of the living.’

Juan Jesús Payán, Associate Professor, Lehman College, CUNY

‘A timely contribution to the burgeoning interest in Spanish Gothic, this study brings hitherto overlooked stories and novels into the conversation. For so long, Spanish Gothic has remained in the literary shadows and its subversive power neglected: this book shows how Spanish literature draws on this power, with women's writing to the fore. For those who want to know more, Spectral Spain well repays reading.’

Ann Davies, Emeritus Professor of Spanish, University of Stirling


Series Editors’ Foreword
Introduction: Spectral Spain
Part One: Haunted Houses. Introduction.
1 A Ghost in the Looking Glass: Reflections on Women’s Autonomy and Catalan Independence in Mercè Rodoreda’s A Broken Mirror
2 Shifting Borders: Race, Class and the Phantasmagoric Other in Bene by Adelaida García Morales
3 A (Haunted) Room of One’s Own: The Evolution of Gender Roles and Female Sexuality in Adelaida García Morales’s Aunt Águeda and Elisa’s Secret
4 War at Home: The Haunted House as Battlefield in Ana María Matute’s Family Demons
Part Two: Silent Spaces. Introduction.
5 The Ghost Howls at Night: Silence, Death and the Politics of Fear in Julio Llamazares’s Wolf Moon
6 Life in a Ghost Town: Gothic Landscapes, Rural Memory and the Silence of Loss in Julio Llamazares’s The Yellow Rain
7 Unspeakable Truths: Silence, Spectrality and the Artifacts of Memory in Cristina Fernández Cubas’s The Swing
Part Three: Traumatic Memories. Introduction.
8 Violent Childhood: Dark Imagination and the Trauma of Progress in Espido Freire’s Irlanda
9 The End of Innocence: Childhood Fantasy and Monstrous Reality in Ana María Matute’s Uninhabited Paradise
10 As the Ghost Speaks: Bearing Witness to Fascist Horror in Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Prisoner of Heaven

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Heidi Backes

Dr Heidi Backes is an Associate Professor of Spanish at Missouri State University, where she specialises in contemporary Spanish fiction, with her latest research focusing on the neo-Gothic movement in Spain.

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