Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version



Iker González-Allende. “Womenʼs Friendship in Exile: Healing in the Epistolary Correspondence Between Zenobia Camprubí and Pilar de Zubiaurre.” Art from Trauma: Genocide and Healing Beyond Rwanda: In Honor of Chantal Kalisa, eds. Rangira Béa Gallimore and Gerise Herndon. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019, pp. 201-15.


Copyright Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska. Published by University of Nebraska Press. Used by permission.


The epistolary correspondence between the Spanish intellectuals Zenobia Camprubi (1887-1956) and Pilar de Zubiaurre (1884- 1970) from October 1938 to August 1956 reveals a long friendship that began in Madrid in the 1910S and continued during the exile that they, as supporters of the democratic Second Republic, both suffered after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the victory of dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975. During exile Camprubi writes to Zubiaurre from the United States, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, while Zubiaurre responds from Mexico, where she lived the last thirty years of her life. Out of their mutual correspondence fifteen letters written by Camprubi are held in the Archives of the Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao, Spain, while five letters written by Zubiaurre are kept in the Zenobia-Juan Ram6n Jimenez Foundation, in Huelva, Spain.1 The importance of these letters is that they illustrate the significant role that women played in exile as transmitters of information and preservers of the national culture in the communities of Spanish Republican exiles.

In this chapter I argue that both Camprubi and Zubiaurre experienced a suffering and nostalgic exile and used their epistolary correspondence as a means to cope with it. Exchanging letters contributed to healing their exilic pain in three main ways: by giving and receiving information, by asking for and offering help, and by finding comfort and consolation in difficult times. Thus, both intellectuals conveyed to each other the situation of numerous mutual friends and the news they received from Spain. Letters also allowed them to ask favors of each other, for instance, offering advice on several issues and conveying messages to common friends. Finally, Camprubi and Zubiaurre found in each other's letters the affection needed in hard times, as shown in the references to the importance of their friendship over others. Thus, these letters demonstrate how exiled women supported each other while being away from home and found solace through their mutual friendship.