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Clio in question: metaHistorical Theatre in Spain (1980-2010)





In the context of postmodernism, history writing has become a crucial issue. Called “epistemological turn” by historians and “metahistorical fiction” by writers, such a tendency is the proof of a “metahistorical awareness” which arises nowadays in Western societies as a whole, inviting to consider history as a palimpsest of subjective and conflicting interpretations. Affected by recent memory conflicts, Spain is primarily concerned. This study wishes to identify the modalities and stakes of such metahistorical tendency while wondering about the place of contemporary Spanish drama within this phenomenon. After retracing the evolution of both notions of “metahistory” and “metahistorical fiction”, this dissertation opens on a first chapter sketching out a history of Western metahistory, extended to the historiographic, artistic and societal fields (choosing to limit the latter to the contemporary period). If the metahistorical phenomenon is not new, metahistorical awareness which provides it with an original strength and coherence seems to crystallize over the last part of the 20th century. Spain has its own specificities ‒ especially due to the legacy of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship. This chapter ends on a theoretical part offering analytic tools for metahistorical fiction and a typology (metafictional metahistorical fiction, historiographic metahistorical fiction), and also considers some particularities of the dramatic genre.The second chapter is the study of around ten Spanish dramas written over the past thirty years: El retablo de Eldorado, Naufragios de Álvar Núñez, Lope de Aguirre, traidor and El sudario de tiza by J. Sanchis Sinisterra, ¡¡¡Tierraaaa… a… laaaa… vistaaa…!!! by M. Martínez Mediero, Yo tengo un tío en América by A. Boadella, Retrato de gran almirante con perros by L. Riaza, Yo, maldita india… and El arquitecto y el relojero by J. López Mozo, El jardín quemado and La tortuga de Darwin by J. Mayorga, and Homenaje a los Malditos by E. Calonge. If it uses the metahistorical device through various dramaturgies, this corpus presents, however, a real unity: reminding of present-day historiographic and societal concerns in history writing, it becomes an original artistic manifestation of contemporary metahistorical awareness, exploring more closely the Spanish particularities. These texts also seem to reflect the progressive affirmation of metahistorical fiction which gradually parts from historical fiction and metafiction. As Clio is brought back to the humans’ stage, deconstructed and demystified, these playwrights do an “act of memory” and offer spaces of expression to traumatic memories. Contemporary metahistorical fiction, though definitely postmodern, is not nihilist: it dismantles historical discourses in order to better understand them; it deconstructs them in order to offer other evocations of the past.

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