Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

James D. Fernández, "Apology to Apostrophe: Autobiography and the Rhetoric of Self-Representation in Spain" (Book Review)

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (1994), 71, (3), 405


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405 REVIEWS OF BOOKS . eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. In La Eumenia themes of sentimentality, friendship, nature, worldly experience, chance and providence, and a narrative structure reminiscent of a series of vignettes win interest historians of the genre. In Oderay, the fictitious memoir of a European adopted by noble North-American Indians, the relationship between fiction and natural history writing is particularly notable. Moreover, Camero's edition provides an example of the popular translations available to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century readers and contributes to the study of the question of translation that has aroused interest among the period's cultural critics. The edition is scrupulously accomplished. The only errors are Zavala's, especially latsmo and loismo, ruled incorrect in 1796 and 1874 respectively. The introduction gives more scholarly information than critical commentary. One may argue with some editorial decisions: for example, the need for textually providing page numbers from the 1805 edition of La Eumenia and the desirability of a fuller account of Zavala's life to accompany Camero's fruitful archival research into important biographical details. One inaccuracy involves Camero's localization of the 1804 edition of Oderay in the United States. Unless they have recently lost the book, the following institutions should house it, besides Berkeley, which is noted by Carnero: the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Duke, Yale, Kentucky (Lexington), Cincinnati, and Princeton University libraries. The title appears in the catalogue of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but the book cannot be found. These are minor criticisms that do not generally detract from our reading or Camero's contribution. Camero has previously given us solid literary detective work clarifying information and literary figures that has helped fill voids in our knowledge. The present edition is very much in character. We look forward to the companion volume. MICHAEL SCHINASI University ofEast Carolina. Apowgy to Apostrophe: Autobiography and the Rhetoric of Self-Representation In Spain. Durham, N.C./London: Duke University Press. 1992. viii + 182 pp. £21.00. JAMES D. FERNANDEZ, It is a commonplace that autobiography is a literary growth alien to Spanish soil. Fernandez disputes this, but does not offer an explanation of why, in Juan Goytisolo's words, Spaniards have been 'singularmente reticentes a la idea de exponer [... la vidal por escrito'. The obvious distinction to be made is between the apologetic and confessional modes. Spanish literature abounds in examples of the first, which is concerned with the vindication of personal honour, but is almost devoid of the second, which invites charges of impudicia, Even Blanco White, who revealed more than most, wrote of having to 'overcome no small reluctance and fear of impropriety to enter upon the task'. The idea that the proper place for confession is the confessional has proved remarkably durable. Fernandez takes a different approach. The terms of his title point to a duality which he sees as constant in Spanish autobiographical discourse: on the one hand, justification of oneself and one's record before one's contemporaries (apology), and on the other, appeal to a higher, transcendental authority, whether it be God, an idealized Public Opinion, Posterity, or History (apostrophe). At times Fernandez seems to be hoist with the petard of his homophonic title, but he uses his categories creatively. Some of his ideas need to be unpacked, but he offers some stimulating insights and opens up avenues for further exploration. The first chapter brings together Santa Teresa, Diego de Torres Villarroel and some of the writers of political and military memoirs of the early nineteenth century. The second chapter is devoted to Blanco White, while the third analyses the work of Mesonero Romanos, Zorrilla and Palacio Valdes-an laudatores temporis acti who through autobiography escape from contemporary flux into the waned Copyright (c) 2004 ProQuest Information and Learning Company Copyright (c) Liverpool University Press

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Author details

MURPHY, MARTIN