Pacts between life and art during the late transition: Metafiction in Spanish cinema, theater, and short story (1982--1993)

Date of Completion

January 2003


Literature, Romance|Theater|Cinema




My dissertation focuses on the use of metafiction in cinema, theater and short story in Spain during the late transition to democracy that extends from 1982 to 1993. This period has been characterized by apathy, political individualism, an economical modernization, and a materialistic and social promotion. ^ I propose that metafiction explores and creates reality through the very process of making fiction. In the works that I analyze, characters have generally discarded political categories of self-definition. Instead, they resort to a language intimately connected to cinema, literature, theater, journals, and letters. In other words, to language that fictionalizes life. But this fictionalization is directed toward Spanish society, in order to reveal a series of political, cultural and social problems like the corruption of political leaders, drug addiction, unemployment, violence, the subordination of women, boredom, emptiness, uniformity and consumption as an end in itself. ^ This study uses as its theoretical base the notion of split-referentiality , a concept created by David K. Herzberger, that rejects the definition of the metafictional character as an exclusively linguistic entity who remains disconnected from what we call “life.” In short, the thesis analyses three movies—Pedro Almodóvar's Entre tinieblas (1983), Tacones lejanos (1991), and Todo sobre mi madre (1999)—, three plays—Paloma Pedrero's Besos de lobo (1986), La isla amarilla (1988), and Cachorros de negro mirar (1995)—, and three short stories—Ignacio Martínez de Pisón's “El filo de unos ojos” (1985), “La muerte mientras tanto” (1989), and “El rey de bastos” (1998)—in which metafictional devices are used in order to show how fiction and historical, social, cultural, and also personal conditions and situations are intimately united. ^