Journal of Romance Studies

Barcelona gothic: Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s La sombra del viento and the omnipresent past

Journal of Romance Studies (2012), 12, (1), 72–84.

Abstract

This article looks at La sombra del viento as a highly self-conscious gothic text in light of the recent critical debate about the novel’s contribution to the growing tradition of the ‘memory text’. Although these two modes may seem to have little in common, there is one important point at which they converge: their concern with the historical past. While sharing this concern, however, the gothic and the memory text approach that past in quite distinct ways. If the memory text focuses upon the need to recover a forgotten or silenced past, the gothic text rather focuses on the continuing presence of that past, on its continuing power and threat. The task in the gothic text is to attempt to exorcise the past which is omnipresent, rather than to reclaim a buried past through the recuperative gestures of memory. If La sombra del viento is both memory text and gothic text, then there would seem to be an irresolvable tension at the heart of its representations of, and attitudes to, the historical past.

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Byron, Gordon