Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

A Question of Values: Narrative Consciousness in El mismo mar de todos los veranos

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2011), 88, (1), 79–96.

Abstract

Esther Tusquets has been accused of promoting conformist and masculinist values in her writing by some feminist critics. The first two novels of her trilogy conclude with troubling rape scenes in which the protagonist and victim is partly complicit, and in which she takes masochistic pleasure. It has been said, with respect to her first novel, El mismo mar de todos los veranos, that this amounts to a betrayal by the author of both her character and her reader. Feminist texts are meant to be subversive; Tusquets' novels are anything but subversive when they allow for such a violent reimposition of the status quo. The values they subscribe to are therefore highly dubious. But is this a fair judgement? How does the reader determine the values of a text? Using narrative theory, I will argue that through a closer exploration of narrative consciousness in this novel we can make a more nuanced assessment of the text's 'value structure' (Chatman 1990). I will further argue that an analysis of narrative consciousness can lead to a more developed understanding of the psychological situation presented in the novel. Such analysis can in turn allow for a consideration of the rhetorical effects of the novel, and the ways in which we read with or against them.

Algunas críticas feministas han acusado a Esther Tusquets de promover valores conformistas y masculinistas en su escritura. Las dos primeras novelas de su trilogía concluyen con escenas inquietantes de violación, en las que la protagonista y víctima es en parte cómplice, y de las que disfruta de manera masoquista. En lo que se refiere a su primera novela, El mismo mar de todos los veranos, se ha dicho que esto equivale a una traición por la autora, tanto de su personaje como de su lector(a). Los textos feministas deberían ser subversivos; las novelas de Tusquets son todo menos subversivos cuando permiten una reimposición tan violenta del statu quo. Los valores a los que se suscriben son, por lo tanto, muy dudosos. Pero, ¿es justo tal juicio? ¿Cómo determina un(a) lector(a) los valores de un texto? Empleando la teoría narrativa, sostendré que, con un estudio más detallado de la conciencia narrativa en esta novela, se puede llegar a una valoración más matizada de la 'estructura de valores' (Chatman 1990) del texto. Es más, sostendré que un análisis de la conciencia narrativa lleva a un entendimiento más desarrollado de la situación psicológica que se presenta en la novela. Tal análisis puede, a su vez, permitir una consideración de los efectos retóricos de la novela, y de la manera en que leemos a favor o en contra de ellos.

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Lonsdale, Laura