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Confronting the Urban Nightmare: La pared transparente by Ernestina de Champourcin

From: Hispania
Volume 97, Number 1, March 2014
pp. 81-90 | 10.1353/hpn.2014.0008



After thirty-three years of exile in Mexico, Ernestina de Champourcin returned to Madrid in 1972, in time to witness the profound political changes in Spain prompted by the death of Franco and by the cultural revolution originating in the capital known as the “movida madrileña.” Between 1979 and 1980, she responded to the explosion of mass media products and subculture activities by writing La pared transparente (1984), a series of poems that portray the postmodern city as an alienating and dehumanized place symbolized primarily as a wall of obstructions. The poet employs multiple synonyms for “wall,” along with allusions to the emptiness of the hole, the blankness of the color white, and the estrangement provoked by silence to complete her depictions of the modern big city. She especially laments the incapacity for calm, verbal communication within this crowded and animated, yet lonely and impersonal, environment. After expressing her anxiety, in the second half of the collection, Champourcin discovers that the wall erected between human beings can be mitigated or traversed through memory, love, and looking to the reality within the self and ultimately beyond.

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