History of Literature



Spanish literature



Ana María Matute

Ana María Matute, (b. July 26, 1926, Barcelona, Spain), Spanish novelist known for her sympathetic treatment of the lives of children and adolescents, their feelings of betrayal and isolation, and their rites of passage.

Matute’s education suffered because of childhood illnesses, the family’s frequent moves between Barcelona and Madrid, and the disruptions of the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), which left her family largely housebound in Barcelona. She broke the monotony of the war years by editing a magazine for her siblings. While in her teens, she published short stories and became a professional musician.

Matute frequently used biblical allusion in her works and often used the story of Cain and Abel to symbolize the familial division caused by the Spanish Civil War; her first novel was titled Los Abel (1948; “The Abel Family”). The novels Fiesta al noroeste (1952; “Celebration in the Northwest”), Pequeño teatro (1954; “Little Theatre”), and Los hijos muertos (1958; The Lost Children) followed. Matute then wrote a trilogy consisting of Primera memoria (1959; U.K. title, The Awakening; U.S. title, School of the Sun), about children thrust into an adult world by the Spanish Civil War; a war novel, Los soldados lloran de noche (1964; “The Soldiers Cry by Night”); and La trampa (1969; “The Trap”), in which the children of Primera memoria are presented as adults. Matute set La torre vigía (1971; “The Watchtower”) in 10th-century Europe to examine the themes of chivalry, idealism, poverty, and prejudice. After publishing this novel, she was silent for 25 years. Her novel Olvidado Rey Gudú, a massive allegorical folk epic that spans four generations in the story of rulers, gnomes, witches, and other creatures in the mythical medieval kingdom of Olar, was published in 1996.

In addition to the novels for which she is best known, Matute wrote several collections of short stories, including Los niños tontos (1956; “The Foolish Children”) and Algunos muchachos (1968; The Heliotrope Wall). She also wrote several works for children.



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