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Explorations in the postmodern mode: Postmodern sensibilities in the nineteenth -century Spanish novel

Catherine E Weber, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The discussion of the self-conscious text is a contemporary theme of postmodernist studies. The postmodern novel is characterized by a profound self-consciousness that emphasizes the use of artifice and privileges the process of creation over anecdotal content. Even as this understanding of the postmodern self-conscious novel was emerging in the 1970s and 1980s, critics detected the presence of this defining trait manifested in various stages throughout the history of the novel, beginning with Don Quixote (1605). Despite the acknowledgment of the metahistorical nature of the self-conscious text, however, the nineteenth-century novel has been specifically excluded from the discussions. The goal of this study is to incorporate the nineteenth-century Spanish narrative in the postmodern debate as we attempt to understand that which is designated ”Postmodern.” ^ This study proposes a new way of conceptualizing postmodern sensibilities in order to observe their manifestation and development throughout the history of the novel. The idea of a postmodern mode leads not only to the study of a self-conscious text but to the recognition of the awareness of language as a construct; here the emphasis is on artifice, the changing concepts of reality, the duplication and inversion of roles within the fictive realm, and a questioning of the arbitrary division of fiction and reality. ^ The Introduction places the multi-faceted phenomenon of postmodernism in cultural and literary perspective. We see how the self-conscious aspect of the postmodern narrative is not limited to the twentieth century. After identifying the components of the postmodern mode, in chapter two I begin the textual analysis of authors representative of nineteenth-century Spain with selections from Mariano José de Larra's Artículos (1833–1837). In chapters three and four I apply the concept of the postmodern mode in analyses of Juan Valera's Pepita Jiménez (1874) and Benito Pérez Galdós's experimental novel El amigo Manso (1882). Chapter five concludes the analyses of postmodern sensibilities with Niebla (1914), by Miguel de Unamuno, as it stands at the threshold between realism and postmodernism. ^

Subject Area

Literature, Romance

Recommended Citation

Weber, Catherine E, "Explorations in the postmodern mode: Postmodern sensibilities in the nineteenth -century Spanish novel" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9967409.