The Novels of Carmen Conde
Toward an Expression of Feminine Subjectivity
The remarkable accomplishments of Carmen Conde (1907-1996) in her cultivation of poetry have garnered her distinction as a pioneer of modern poetry written by women in Spain. But also she wrote eight novels between 1935 and 1985, which have gone virtually unnoticed.This is the first critical analysis of these novels through an examination of the constructs of the female protagonist in twentieth-century Spanish literature.
The Novels of Carmen Conde: Toward an Expression of Feminine Subjectivity illuminates the female protagonists’ role beyond the paternal, domestic domain. Conde’s perception of womanhood blossoms first from within the boundaries of hegemonic discourse and then evolves to deracinate the premises that marginalize the feminine. Her female protagonists for the most part exist as autonomous entities independent of their husbands, fathers, or lovers, and, in several instances, their children. They speak beyond the ears of androcentricity as the textual (re)inscription of their gender allows them to appropriate their surroundings. Conde grants women the ability to think, act, and speak on their own behalf, amidst their shattered relationships, voices, and families. Rather than embracing feminism’s a priori precepts, Conde creates narrative constructs that evince her disappointment with feminism.
The study begins with the presentation of the theoretical background of those tenets of feminism that have served as a guide to shaping this analysis. The division of her novels into three sections allows for a better appreciation of the process Conde intuitively followed to identify her feminine subject: “The Lyric Subject,” “The Subject Transformed,” and “The Self-Manumitted Subject.” Each novel is examined in chronological order of publication, beginning with the background of the novel’s composition and publication, remarks on the novel’s reception in the press and other culturally relevant information, and an overview of the limited critical reaction to that novel, followed by an analysis of the constructs of feminine subjectivity.