This study investigates the contemporary Hispanic novel taking Agustín Fernández Mallo’s Trilogía de la guerra (2018) –its “aesthetic nomadism”– as a symbolic “server” able to “send signals and flows” (Fernández Mallo 2009) to aesthetically different texts, yet capable of highlighting the same problematic identity construction of the contemporary individual dealing with the representation (and manipulation) of memory, and striving to understand how to “remember and how to handle the representations of the remembered past” (Huyssen, 2002:86).
The Trilogía de la guerra’s characters are involved in a perpetual motion across heterogeneous ecosystems: here, the emergence of historical and fictitious residuals connects them to different wars that offer subjective, repeated memories. Thus, through the cyclical, temporal and spatial motion, the characters seem to acquire the responsibility of “recycling” memories to create new paradigms to define the present. This Fernández Mallo’s network of accumulated signifiers could be extended to novels as Ray Loriga’s Rendición (2017). Loriga’s protagonist struggles to recover from a war, moving towards a “transparent” place where happiness is obtained by erasing memories, intimacy: the manipulation of memory and feelings becomes the emblem of a world intoxicated by moral disengagement (Bandura, 2002).
Fernández Mallo and Loriga’s works, whose “nomadic” characters are looking for a personal space to elude the moral/social vacuum derived from the problematic relation between the contemporary individual and the representations of the past, demonstrate that –paraphrasing Huyssen (2002)– there cannot be only one true form of memory representation able to shape identity.
Therefore, this research includes novels such as Alia Trabucco Zerán’s La resta (2014) where the protagonists take a surreal yet liberating journey from Santiago to Mendoza. Santiago is covered in ash, symbol of the remnants of a collective memory (Halbwachs, 1992) that becomes private, affecting the protagonists’ remainder status as sons of opponents of the Pinochet’s dictatorship. Hence, the protagonists’ escape to repatriate the corpse of an exiled woman becomes a battle against a boundless nostalgia to conquer their own identities.
Zerán’s quest for alternative memories brings this study to novels such as Javier Cercas’s El monarca de las sombras (2017) that concludes Cercas’s moral path –started with Soldados de Salamina (2001)– focused on the narrative construction of historical heroes, and exploring the concept of historical memory (Colmeiro, 2005).
Inside the novel, Cercas’s autofictional mask investigates the Spanish Civil War to recover the intimate dimension of the memory of the author’s family. The text becomes a literary attempt “against the oblivion” (Ródenas de Moya, 2017). Thus, through memory, Cercas appeals to the same reader capable of interpreting the struggles of Fernández Mallo, Loriga and Zerán’s characters; the same reader capable of asking “literature the most difficult […] questions” (Ródenas de Moya, 2017).
Therefore, this study links together the fictional yet human representations described in the novels: texts structured upon paradoxically eloquent “blind spots” where the reader can find the “literary truth”(Cercas 2016). In this way, the Hispanic contemporary novel becomes a tool able to interpret the “constructions” of memories and identities to confer complexity to the representation of reality.
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