Rosa Chacel belongs to that brilliant generation of artists that moved to the cultural vanguard in the 1920s and 1930s: García Lorca, Buñuel, Dali, Alberti, Guillén, Aleixandre. As a young artist—a sculptor and writer—she participated in the intellectual ferment of Madrid during those decades. But the victory of fascism in the late thirties erased Chacel's works and the works of other women from the cultural memory until recently. In the interim Chacel was exiled in Brazil and Argentina. At last her work has returned to light. So has Chacel herself.
The Maravillas District (Barrio de maravillas, 1976) is the first novel in an autobiographical trilogy and the finest of Chacel's works to date. Proustian in its use of memory (yet unique in style), it traces two girls' discovery of their artistic and intellectual vocations, focusing less on the social and cultural obstacles to women's self-realizationthough these are present—than on the invicible impulses of imagination and intellect in these girls' lives and on the enabling power of their mutual support. In its English translation it will rank alongside Virginia Woolf's and Sylvia Plath's autobiographical works depicting the woman artist's experience.
About the Author
A translator, literary critic, and associate editor of Caliban, d. a. démers lives in Madrid. Susan Kirkpatrick is a professor of Spanish at the University of California, San Diego. Her publications include Las Romanticas: Women and Subjectivity in Spain, 1835-1850 (1989).