Memory and Narration: Passing through Time in "Retahílas" by Carmen Martín Gaite

Mallory N. Craig-Kuhn


The novel Retahílas by Carmen Martín Gaite can be read as a reflection on memory which spans several different generations of one family. Personal remembrances are narrated and shared, and in this way become the legacy of younger generations, becoming part of an inherited, shared family memory. This exchange is only possible by means of an exceptional conversation made up of long strings of dialogue throughout the night, as the interlocutors await the death of the family’s oldest surviving generation. The listener allows the speaker to share and interpret his or her experiences. These remembrances are closely linked with identity and life, while death is associated with silence and forgetting. Even so, narrated remembrances can make the dead present for the interlocutors


memory, narration, Walter Benjamin, death, interlocutor

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Benjamin, Walter. “Experiencia y pobreza”. Ensayos (Tomo III). Madrid: Editorial Nacional, 2002.

Benjamin, Walter. “El narrador”. Ensayos (Tomo I). Madrid: Editorial Nacional, 2002.

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Zimbardo, Philip. The Secret Powers of Time. The Royal Society of Arts. Londres. 7 abril, 2010. ‹›.



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