SCIENCE FICTION AS MAINSTREAM LITERATURE: THE SPANISH SCIENTIFIC ROMANCE AND ITS RECEPTION BEFORE THE 1936 SPANISH CIVIL WAR

Mariano Martín Rodríguez

Resumo


After humble beginnings in the 19th century, early Spanish science fiction experienced a boom in the early decades of the last century, after the first translations of the Wellsian futurist narratives were extremely well received by the public and the critics. This happened at a time when several young Spanish intellectuals were looking for a more cosmopolitan world view in contrast with the traditional isolationism of their country. Some of them even lived in London for a period of time, where they became familiar with British institutions and culture, including thescientific romance, which was rapidly assimilated. Indeed, both the Wellsian and Swiftian models would soon be combined in a series of original scientific fictions, such as Vicente Blasco Ibáñez’s El paraíso de las mujeres (Women’s Paradise, 1921), Luis Araquistáin’s El archipiélago maravilloso (The Marvellous Archipelago, 1923), or Salvador de Madariaga’s La jirafa sagrada, translated by the author himself from his English original (The Sacred Giraffe, 1925). All these works follow a speculative and satirical pattern that uses irony to convey a message of intellectual freedom. Due to their fusion of thought, humour and reasoned imagination in an innovative fictional framework, they were acknowledged by contemporary critics as brilliant examples of modernist writing. Furthermore, there was virtually no pulp literature as such, but rather weekly mass publications which were not genre oriented, as they used to publish all kinds of literature, from erotic tales to social narratives, along with science fiction short stories, usually written by renowned authors. Scientific romance in the Wellsian or other modes was then considered a respectable form of literature, as well as an adequate vehicle for social and political commentary. Therefore, it was a legitimate part of the Spanish mainstream literature, at least until the 1936 Spanish Civil War put an end to the Silver Age of Spanish culture.

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