Carmen Martín Gaite produced a large body of work in various genres over the course of her five-decade career, though she is primarily known as a novelist, short story writer, and social commentator. Her work at times reflects, and at times defies, the pattern of development in Spanish fiction since the 1950s. This Companion offers a re-reading of Martín Gaite's works, emphasizing her early experimentalism which culminated in mid-career works (notably El cuarto de atrás), and stressing how, in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the majority of Spanish novelists were engaged in a critique of history, Martín Gaite turned to the writing of cultural history, exploring its intersection with narrative fiction in a positivist rather than a nihilistic mode. Her exploration of gender issues, particularly mother-child relations, towards the end of her career anticipated new directions in feminist thought. Discussions of often-ignored works, such as poetry, drama, children's literature, and literary translations, offer insight into sidelined aspects of this writer's literary output.
Catherine O'Leary —
Catherine O'Leary lectures in Spanish at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
Alison Ribeiro de Menezes —
Alison Ribeiro de Menezes is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Languages and Literatures, University College Dublin.
O'Leary, Catherine. A companion to Carmen Martín Gaite, by Catherine O'Leary and Alison Ribeiro de Menezes. Tamesis, 2008. 294p bibl index afp; ISBN 9781855661776. Reviewed in 2009aug CHOICE.
A guide for anyone interested in the life and works of this prolific 20th-century Spanish author, this volume provides, in the absence of a biography of Martín Gaite, invaluable information on how her experiences impacted her development as a writer. O'Leary and Ribeiro de Menezes organize each chapter around specific titles or genres, starting with Martín Gaite's first work, Entre visillos (1957), and cover essays, drama, poetry, and children's literature in addition to novels. The authors include segments from censors' reports, when available, adding an interesting angle to understanding of the government's reading strategies as applied to Martín Gaite's works. One not only learns how Martín Gaite created a space for her ideas in spite of political constraints, but also comes to appreciate her stand regarding such humanistic issues as the need to communicate with others and the importance of reading as the road to self-discovery and engagement. The authors bring a variety of critical voices to the discussion, thus opening a dialogue among critical perspectives. Anyone interested in Spanish society after the Spanish Civil War--scholars of history and the social sciences as well as literature--will benefit from this book. All quotes from Martín Gaite's work are translated.
Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. -- O. B. González, Loyola University of Chicago