La nueva novela caballeresca de Ana María Matute

Date

2014-12

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Abstract

An original variant of the new historical novel, the neo-chivalric novel restructures the myths surrounding a poeticized and beautified chivalric world. This work focuses on three novels—La torre vigía, Olvidado Rey Gudú, and Aranmanoth—by renowned Spanish author Ana María Matute, as prime material for a genre study which demonstrates how this occurs. The typological paradigm set forth in works by Tzvetan Todorov, together with studies by Seymour Menton, Fernando Aínsa, Janet Pérez and Genaro Pérez over the new historical novel (of which branches the new chivalric novel), serves as methodological resources in the specification of four attributes of Matute’s neo-chivalric novel: a medieval framework, intertextuality, a social subtext, and an apocalyptic tone.
Within the medieval framework, emphasis is placed on the inhospitable and violently unforgiving environment populated by knights and nobles who are greedy and exploitative pedophiles, rapists and, contrary to chivalric norms, homosexuals. These characters are juxtaposed with symbolic creatures from medieval bestiaries such as wolves, boars and dragons which enrich their depth of interpretation. The unique and consistent paracosmic fantasy world presented in these novels also forms part of the medieval framework and is explored here. Intertextual elements found in these novels provide them with a temporal universalism that transcends the medieval environment in which they are set. Matute inserts in her narrations echoes, allusions and rewrites from a select range of resources: the Bible, chivalric romances such as Lancelot and Guinevere, and fairy tales as renowned as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Cinderella. This implicit and explicit inclusion of these texts creates an atemporal effect on her characters and her messages. These messages are social in nature and manifest themselves in various ways throughout Matute’s neo-chivalric novels. This study examines the social subtext through human nature in relation to material differences based on social status, biblical themes that denounce fraternal conflict—which is symbolically extended to represent all of humanity—and a temporal universalism that warns against the dangers of mankind repeating past mistakes. Matute also incorporates numerous characteristics associated with the apocalyptic genre—revelatory visions, complex symbolisms, and pessimism towards humanity—providing a millennial link to her medieval setting: the fear of judgment day. This inclusion/fusion of the apocalyptic with the chivalric appears as a literary novelty and is an essential ingredient in the neo-chivalric works of Matute. The present study extrapolates the most common and poignant features of Matute’s medieval novels as a basis for this original list of characteristics that serves as a valid and practical approach to the analysis of certain contemporary novels that have been erroneously classified as chivalric. The proposed neo-chivalric typology therefore exposes the connective tissue between the three Matute novels most distinct from the rest of her work, while showing the novelty they contribute to the world of literature by analyzing the different ways in which her original medieval atmosphere gives a unique twist to the traditional, literary chivalric world.

Description

Keywords

Neo-caballerismo, Ana María Matute, Género, Tipología, Medieval, Intertexualidad, Cuentos de hadas, Biblia, Literatura social, Apocalipsis

Citation