From the “Giant” to the human “beaten”: the humanization of the “Kronen” antihero in José Ángel Mañas’s “La última juerga”

The aim of this study –inspired by the existing bibliography and criticism on Generación X and José Ángel Mañas’s work (e.g., Henseler, Gullón, Spires, Urioste, Everly)– is to interpret the novel La última juerga (2019) as the ultimate metareferential installment of Mañas’s “Proyecto Kronen” started with the publication of Historias del Kronen in 1994. La última juerga (2019) becomes the closure of a hyperreal (Baudrillard, Simulacra and simulation, 1994) narrative space that, following a sort of “posrealismo or “realismo punkizante”, like punk music, represented “una apología del […] «ruido literario»” (Mañas, La Literatura… 2012:4932-40).

Carlos Aguilar’s comeback as the protagonist, twenty-five years after his Historias, transforms the novel in a harsh reflection on the moral value of life just before death. Carlos, inside Historias del Kronen, was a sort of media hologram who perpetually wandered in a nocturnal, toxic, dehumanized Madrid. He always tried to manipulate this hostile world by means of a distorted interpretation of media “devices” (Agamben, Cos’è il contemporaneo e altri scritti, 2011) that led him to a kind of “untruth of the subject” (Agamben, 2011) and a deviant desire of violence.

Under the surface of Carlos’s La última juerga trip against life, Mañas, as the implied author, enlivens an inner dialogue with his protagonist. The autofictional voice of the author fights to humanize Carlos just while he struggles to remain a cold dehumanized Kronen work of art. In the course of the study, the inner author/protagonist dialogue assumes multiple nuances, emerging from the fiction to become a subtle communication between the real author and his Kronen model reader through a massive use of multimedia intertextuality. The symbolic, multilevel dialogue of La última juerga is completed by another intrusion of a The The’s song –The beaten generation– in a Kronen novel after Giant: the song that haunted and literally framed Carlos’s Historias del Kronen.

Thanks to the symbolic, transversal juxtaposition between the lyrics of Giant and The beaten generation, the study brings to the surface the ultimate voice of La última juerga (and of all the “Proyecto”): Carlos self-proclaimed exceptional, fashionable, dandy status as an ephemeral Giant is forced to recognize his human status. Carlos’s punk, rebel “ruido” evolves in a definitive silence: Carlos, following the The The’s lyrics, becomes a beaten, an exhausted real human being. Therefore, within the study, Carlos’s silence and his human evolution complete Mañas’s punk path that becomes beaten exactly as his most famous character. Mañas’s punk path is now obliged to step out of youth and it is drifted into the twenty-first century, yet, without denying its creative, literary but toxic, and now human Kronen essence. Hence, Mañas’s Kronen “antiliterature” ceases to be expression of a perpetual “vacío moral” and becomes a definitive space for cultural reflection: a “desgarrado” melancholic portrait of contemporary society.

Palabras clave

autofiction Generación X punk Realismo sucio

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Matteo Lobina

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