The remains of genres: on autofiction and postmodernism Lecture Series THE MASKS OF A GENRE. LITERATURE AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN CONTEMPORARY SPAIN

The remains of genres: on autofiction and postmodernism

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José-Carlos Mainer

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  1. José-Carlos MainerJosé-Carlos Mainer

    Catedrático emérito de Literatura Española de la Universidad de Zaragoza, antes fue profesor en la Universidad de Barcelona, la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona y la Universidad de La Laguna de Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Se dedica al estudio de la historia literaria de los dos últimos siglos; ha realizado ediciones de obras de Juan Valera, Benito Pérez Galdós, Antonio Machado, Pío Baroja, Wenceslao Fernández Flórez, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Francisco Ayala, Ramón J. Sender, Luis Martín Santos y Carmen Martín Gaite, y ha escrito libros como Falange y literatura (Antología) (1971 y 2014, edición aumentada), La Edad de Plata (1902-1939). Ensayo de interpretación de un proceso cultural (1975 y 1982, edición aumentada), La doma de la Quimera. Ensayos sobre nacionalismo y cultura en España (1987 y 2004), La corona hecha trizas (1930-1960) (1989 y 2008), Moradores de Sansueña. Lecturas cervantinas del exilio republicano español (2005), Años de vísperas. La vida de la cultura en España (1931-1939) (2006), Galería de retratos (2010) y la biografía Pío Baroja (2012). Es autor además de otros títulos, cercanos a la teoría literaria, como son Historia, literatura, sociedad (y una coda española) (1989 y 2000), La filología en el purgatorio. Los estudios literarios en torno a 1950 (2003) y La escritura desatada (El mundo de las novelas) (2000 y 2012). Es director de la obra colectiva Historia de la literatura española, siendo autor del tomo sexto titulado Modernidad y nacionalismo, 1900-1939 (2010).

The crisis of the literary genres is something inherent to their own existence, but modernity has provided an essentially creative dimension to this dynamic. As a matter of fact, the two modern genres -novel and essay- were born as transversal  genres, forging their personality from previous ones, and at the same time, their history has been one of permanent crisis. If the narrative of the 19th century was born as a daughter of History (and the associated knowledges like Geography, Law or Sociology), the novel of the 20th century -and its heir along the present first decade- has collected the most abstract echo of Philosophy: anthropological self-perception, the theory of language, and the general theory of knowledge.

Two denominations coming from a distant past were strengthen in the 1980's: metafiction (defined by Linda Hutcheon in 1980) and the auto-fiction (a term applied by Serge Doubrovski in 1977): both recognize in the figure of the author the decisive role as organizer of texts, in the first case, but also as the administrator of the memory that flows through the novel, as a clarifier of the moral sense of the narration. Obviously, the climax of both formulas occurred in parallel to the good health of the autobiographic forms, and with an important constellation of novel writers that emerged in the end of the 1960's. In these conference we will refer to them and some of their Spanish contemporaries: José María Merino, Javier Marías, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Javier Cercas…