Catalan Review

REMEMBERING FROM THE MARGINS: THE RHIZOME AND COLLECTIVE MEMORY IN EL CARRER DE LES CAMÈLIES

Catalan Review (2016), 30, (1), 329–344.

Abstract

El carrer de les Camèlies, which largely takes place in postwar Barcelona, is concerned with the relationship of memory to community. The postwar Catalan community needs to preserve its cultural memory in order to continue to survive, yet memory can make it impossible to live in the present. Rodoreda proposes a model of memory that does not gesture towards a paralyzing past, but rather towards a collective memory created in the present through the bonds between living members of the community. To show how Rodoreda’s hermetic symbolic language leads, perhaps counterintuitively, to a concern for the cohesion of the Catalan community, I employ the work of Maurice Halbwachs together with Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concept of the “rhizome.” Rodoreda creates a rhizomatic symbolic language that establishes on the formal level her response to the difficulty of Catalan cultural cohesion in a time when official memory was dominated by Franco’s regime and many Catalans had fled to exile. Rodoreda’s model of Catalan collective memory —as a symbolic language— binds members of the community together without confining the individual. The unconfined individual, in turn, helps to change “official” collective memory.

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Author details

SCALA, SUZANNE