Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Silences, Shadows and Specters: The Spanish Civil War in La escuela de Platon by Rosa Chacel


Modern Languages & Literatures Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


While Rosa Chacels trilogy, La escuela de Platón comprised of Barrio de Maravillas (1976), Acrópolis (1984) and Ciencias naturales (1988)-- is typically not included among those novels written during the transition to democracy which deal with the Spanish Civil War, the conflict lies at the very center of the narrative, at the end of the second volume. This is due, perhaps, to the difficulty of deciphering the external events that have to do with the war itself: it is reduced to a cloud of smoke towards the end of Acropolis, yet it projects its shadow over the entire trilogy. The first two volumes narrate the inner lives of the characters within a historical and cultural context that culminates in the conflict. The third volume relates the experiences of the characters in exile in Argentina, the traumatic result of the war. What is more, the contrast between the vague representation of the war and the clear, specific inclusion of other historical events, such as the assassination of Jose Canalejas or the earthquake of 1944, through newspaper headlines highlights the difficulty of speaking about the Spanish war, a blockage produced by the trauma. In Ciencias naturales, in particular, the references to the conflict are characterized by a discontinuous, fragmented discourse, full of silences and omissions. The narrators use deictic and other pronouns (this, that) to refer to what is unnamable, Francisco Franco’s fascism. In contrast with the concrete spaces (the streets, the houses, the shops, etc.), places of memory, the characters themselves acquire a phantasmagorical presence, they become disembodied voices that think obsessively about what they feel in the present and what they experienced in the past. And the past itself weighs on the characters through its spectral presence (Acropolis, 22).

Conference Name

III Congreso Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Espanola Contemporanea

Conference Location

La Plata, Argentina

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