Memory and time in the novels of Antonio Munoz Molina

Date of Completion

January 2009


Literature, Modern|Literature, Romance




One of the salient characteristics of the contemporary Spanish writer Muñoz Molina's novels is the dynamic ole of memory, and time. This study of “Memory and Time in the novels of Antonio Muñoz Molina” describes memory and time's function as a topical motif in narrative, as the protagonists' primary focus, and as an important technical device in shaping narrative in his first six novels: Beatus ille (1986), El invierno en Lisboa (1987), Beltenebros (1989), El jinete polaco (1991), Los misterios de Madrid (1992), and El dueño del secreto (1994). Muñoz Molina writes about Spanish life in the late 20th and 21st centuries, but always seeks to connect present realities with the ambiguities and aporias of individual memory and national history. In his portrayal of time and memory, Muñoz Molina's novels reflect Spain's changes to democracy in the 1970s and its relation to the traumatic communal memories of the Second Spanish Republic, the civil war, and the Nationalist dictatorship. Muñoz Molina continues the rejection of Francoist historiography's use of “myth” as an official national memory. In this he follows Spanish novelists of the 1960s, such as the Goytisolos and Juan Benet, who sought to “reauthor” the nation's perspective on its past, in particular the Spanish Civil War. Along with the dramatic changes in Spain in the post Franco era from the mid 1970s these novels share the topic of a recurring conflict between the material benefits of modernity and the spiritual ones of “tradition” on the right, or “class struggle” on the left. A key unifying trope is the central role of the narrator's persona and perspective as the origin of not only the narrative genres employed, but also the resulting types and motifs of memory and time.^