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A Stranger in My Own Land

Sofía Casanova, a Spanish Writer in the European Fin de Siècle

Kirsty Hooper

Publication Year: 2008

This is the first in-depth analysis of the works of the Galician-Spanish expatriate writer Sofía Casanova (1861-1958), a transnational poet, novelist, journalist, playwright, campaigner, translator, historian and intellectual, and one of the first Spanish women to support herself as a professional writer. Casanova, born in Galicia in rural northwest Spain, married a Pole and spent over seventy years traveling between Spain and Poland. A challenging writer and thinker who witnessed the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the rise of Franco at first hand, moved in the highest political and intellectual circles on both sides of Europe and blazed a trail as one of Spain's first female foreign correspondents, her remarkable achievements were gradually sidelined at home in increasingly reactionary Spain until, by the time of her death, she was remembered only as a perfectly patriotic wife and mother and icon of Francoist femininity. This study addresses the scandalous disappearance of Casanova and her female contemporaries from accounts of the emergence of the modern Spanish nation. Arguing that women's perceived silence during this critical period in the formation of modern Iberian identities has significant repercussions even today, it takes her works as a case study for modeling a radical rethinking of the way we teach and research the crucial years around the turn of the twentieth century. The first study of Casanova's radical and compelling, but now forgotten, early narrative, it explores the Galician, Polish and Spanish context of her work, arguing that her transnational career demonstrates the inadequacies of existing models of national literary history. At the same time, recognizing Casanova's innovative and strategic use of literary genres and techniques traditionally denominated as "feminine" (and therefore excluded from discussions of "serious" national literature), it provides a model for re-evaluating the vast cultural store of popular and sentimental literature as a key part of the debates about the transition to modernity, in Spain and beyond.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Title Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii

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pp. ix

I thank the many people and organizations that have helped me in various ways during the writing of this book: The Arts and Humanities Research Board, the Newby Trust, Oxford University (through the Labouchere and de Osma Funds), the government of Poland, the Xunta de Galicia, Hertford College Oxford (including the Starun Fund), the Queen’s College Oxford ...

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Chapter 1. “Like Atlantis Swallowed Up by the Sea”

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pp. 1-22


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Chapter 2. Poland–Russia–Lithuania

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pp. 23-50

Sofía Casanova’s marriage to Wincenty Lutosławski in 1887 introduced her to a world that was significantly broader, both geographically and intellectually, than she could ever have imagined from her Madrid salon. She now had the opportunity not only to travel extensively throughout Europe but also to meet and associate with some of Europe’s most brilliant writers, philosophers, ...

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Chapter 3. Andalusia–Madrid–Africa

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pp. 51-77

Despite (or perhaps because of) the success of El doctor Wolski, it would be thirteen years before Sofía Casanova published her second novel, Lo eterno (1907).1 The need to avoid overt controversy—in life as well as literature—was particularly pertinent to Casanova at the time of Lo eterno’s publication, as she struggled to reestablish herself in Madrid after an absence of nearly two ...

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Chapter 4. Poland–Madrid–Poland

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pp. 78-104

One of the letters from my novel Más que amor, which his newspaper was publishing, had been fined 500 rubles (1,500 pesetas), the maximum punishment imposed by the military tribunals for literary “crimes.” And the pronouncement in the most cursory minutes of the meeting was this: “For being prejudicial to the State we impose,” etc.]1...

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Chapter 5. Madrid–Galicia

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pp. 105-135

The breakdown of Sofía Casanova’s marriage to Wincenty Lutosławski so swiftly followed her literary success with both the Spanish and Polish ver-sions of Más que amor that a cynical reader might be tempted to connect the two events. Casanova never openly acknowledged Lutosławski’s remarriage (he began a new family with a former student). She managed to turn this per-...

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Chapter 6. Madrid–London–St. Petersburg–Galicia–America

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pp. 136-168

Es un libro fragante, perfumado de cosas galicianas, as

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pp. 169-174

Sofía Casanova’s decision to return to the front line of the war in Poland in 1914 rather than remain in the relative safety of Spain was primarily a personal one, but its effect on her professional life and on the career she had worked so hard to resuscitate over the previous five years was transformative....

Appendix I. Complete Bibliography of Sofía Casanova’s Published Works

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pp. 175-208

Appendix II. M

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pp. 209-212


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pp. 213-222

Works Cited

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pp. 223-230


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pp. 231-235

E-ISBN-13: 9780826592514
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826516138
Print-ISBN-10: 0826516130

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2008