Matute, Ana María
Matute, Ana María 1926–
Matute is a Spanish novelist and short story writer. The Spanish civil war is generally considered the most important formative influence on her career. The fear, the horror, and the injustice of war impelled Matute to write, and the subject of her novels is often the war itself. Her fiction is often peopled with sad, alienated adolescents, growing into adulthood in a world divided by the hate and despair of war. Her prose is noted for its sensitivity and delicacy.
Margaret W. Jones
Analyses of Matute's works reveal a surprising diversity of techniques. Even within a single novel, this variation in style [is evident]…. (p. 5)
A glance at the works themselves will establish this astounding variety of styles. Lush and poetic in one passage, harsh and realistically detailed in another, grotesque and fantastic in still another, these apparently tentative stabs at literary experimentation are, in fact, an intentional effort to fuse the manner of expression with the development of the material.
One of the most original results of the author's stylistic preoccupation is a marked emphasis on descriptions of nature, and specifically, the deliberate deformation of certain elements of nature to harmonize with the emotional reactions of the protagonist. Matute's modern use of pathetic fallacy has not escaped [notice.]… (p. 6)
The majority of Matute's references to nature fall naturally into two distinct groups. The first of these is the background against which the action is to unfold. All of nature—trees, sky, land, etc.—forms a stylized whole which, although often harsh and cruel, is nonetheless believable. This type of "realistic," though stylized, treatment of nature will not be considered. The dramatic distortion of natural elements to which I am referring is entirely separate from the comprehensive description of the background and functions specifically in accordance with the...
(The entire section is 1629 words.)
Janet Winecoff DíAz
JANET WINECOFF DÍAZ
[Matute's serious illnesses as a child seem] to have caused her to withdraw deeper into the childhood world of fantasy and imagination, which (combined with the necessary inactivity) may have stimulated her precocious literary and artistic inclinations…. The childhood illnesses are perhaps unconsciously reflected in [her] not infrequent use of the sick child, and the still more frequent mention of children who die. And the large element of fantasy in her works may well originate with these same experiences. (p. 140)
[Matute's] illness at the age of eight was particularly important for her interest in, and understanding of, the Castilian landscape, for she was sent to live with her grandparents during an extended convalescence, thus becoming acquainted with a countryside different from that of her summers, with new aspects of life, with the misery, poverty, and struggle for existence…. These elements appear in the sullen, resentful villagers of Los Abel and Fiesta al noroeste, and in the tensions between landowners and those who work the soil in the above-mentioned books, as well as in Historias de la Artámila and Los hijos muertos. The novelist's first vivid encounter with injustice belongs to this same stay in the country, and is recalled in "Los chicos," one of the tales of Historias de la Artámila. (pp. 140-41)
Except for the months...
(The entire section is 1402 words.)
Margaret E. W. Jones
Ana María Matute, one of Spain's most important novelists, recently observed that each author actually rewrites the same work through the continual elaboration of a few favorite subjects. This statement is particularly applicable to her own literature, with its limited number of themes and attitudes within a relatively large body of work. Time is one of these themes, and she explores it as a means of subtly transmitting her consistent literary philosophy.
Time is significant even as a simple plot element. The author endows her characters with an almost desperate awareness of the fleeting quality of the moment. The feeling appears most poignantly in the face of death, carrying with it an affirmation of life's values. (p. 282)
As if to emphasize the importance of the subject, Ana María Matute entitled her first collection of short stories El tiempo. The thematic basis of this book—the passage of time which implies destruction, the loss of affection or disillusionment—is echoed throughout her literary production. The most extensive novel, Los hijos muertos, spans three generations of the same family. Each character can see the ravages time has wrought in his older relatives, yet stands defenseless before the similar fate which awaits him. (pp. 282-83)
[Time] fits into the total picture as one of the key motifs correlative to other major themes, such as death, the question of one's...
(The entire section is 1077 words.)
The world of La trampa …—the last novel in the trilogy Los mercaderes …—is characterized by an isolation between the self and others; between the self and itself; pervasive solitude; separation caused by death, divorce and faulty communication. The universal separation symptomatic of alienation is communicated and reinforced in this work of fiction by a form and structure which corresponds to and discovers the thematic content…. In addition to the interrelationship between the characters and the outer world in which they move, there exists a correspondence and interdependence between the past and present. The theme of alienation emerges in the novel through each character's delving into the storehouse of memory, as well as acting in the present. However, external action for its own sake is underplayed, the novel concentrating instead upon static internal action as a means of portraying fragmented, alienated characters.
Matia, the protagonist who reappears in this installment now mature, cynical and disillusioned, returns to Spain with her grown son, Bear…. [Bear] is unable to find any meaning for his existence in that world of his maternal ancestors until he becomes involved with Mario, the would-be revolutionary, and he accepts the role of Mario's avenger against a man who, decades before, had betrayed Mario's father.
Interwoven around the planning...
(The entire section is 1412 words.)