Social Scientist. v 19, no. 223 (Dec 1991) p. 47.

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Myth as a Response to History

Jo Labanyi, Myth and History in Contemporary Spanish Novel, Cambridge University Press, 1989.

The main focus of the study under review is on myth as a response to history as reflected in the works of a number of Spanish novelists, who have endeavoured to relate myth to the specific historical context of Spain in a variety of ways. The book also questions the premise of the American school of myth criticism which proposes the universal scheme of symbolic archetypes in total disregard for the specificities of national history. Other issues dwelt on in the book deal with fiction as a form of mythification in its correlation with real world.

The study is of immense importance especially because a multitude of internationally recognised Latin American novels published during the 1960s and 70s caught the attention of world readers in the English language, and thus noteworthy fiction by Spanish novelists was underplayed and overlooked, though it reflected in a remarkable manner the period of the war and its aftermath. Indeed, these narratives bring into focus a large body of literary production which had remained obscured in the closed Spanish society under Franco.

Nearly a century ago Karl Marx had observed that the knowledge of the history of Spain in his time had been totally inadequate because 'instead of viewing the strength and skill of these people in handling provincial and local administration the historians M&ve drawn from the sources of their court histories'.

Spain is a land of small regional divisions. Every town is a centre of intense social and political activities. As it used to be in the Middle Ages, a person's allegiance is first to his native place and only later to his country. Therefore, it is rightly said that Spain is a conglomerate of small and mutually hostile or indifferent republics, which means that geography has always determined the pattern of political polarisation in Spain. In 1931, when a shortlived realignment of regional and political forces took place, the Popular Front became vic-

* Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi.

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