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María Teresa León (1903-1988) is most well known for her autobiography Memoria de la melancolía (1977), written during her last years of exile from her native Spain. The year 2003 marked the centenary of her birth and a reevaluation of her fiction, including a new edition of her short stories edited by Gregorio Torres Nebrera. [1] In the twenty-first century León finally receives much overdue recognition. [2] This article will examine León‘s conception of memory and exile, through a close textual reading of her short stories ―Primera peregrinación de Teresa," ―El noviciado de Teresa," ―Cabeza de ajo," and ―Esplendor de Teresa‖ from the collection Las peregrinaciones de Teresa (1950). Analyzed through the critical lens of Edward Said‘s theory of contrapuntal juxtaposition, I discuss how León makes use of the physical distance from her native country to evaluate Spanish female subjectivity in the first half of the twentieth century. The stories ―Primera peregrinación de Teresa‖ and ―El noviciado de Teresa‖ focus on the Catholic Church‘s domination of young women. ―Cabeza de ajo‖ and ―El esplendor de Teresa‖ explore women‘s experiences of the Spanish Civil War. María Teresa León‘s decision to name the protagonist of each story Teresa in Las peregrinaciones de Teresa evinces her sense of solidarity for the experience of all women who are relegated to secondary citizenship, becoming exiles even within the borders of their native country.


Texas State University

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Letras Hispanas: Revista de Literatura y Cultura