Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: Mercè Rodoreda

Any time is a good time to read Mercè Rodoreda. The Nation‘s review article on her is worth reading, too. I have never really studied Rodoreda’s life and I have not read all of her books. Having read the review, however, I am re-fascinated. At one point the writer says:

It’s curious that Rodoreda is so esteemed by feminists (she’s the frequent subject of academic papers), when her novels revolve around the abdication of control by women and their subsequent humiliation. And yet there’s something steely and thoroughly modern about the way Rodoreda acknowledges the unsentimental deal-making that masquerades as love.

For oblique reasons this suddenly made me understand some aspects of Clarice Lispector, whose work to me alwasys seemed as flat as Danish modern furniture. My mistake, perhaps.


This, of course, is only further evidence for my theses about Reeducation, which assumed that if one had an education and an independent life then one was exerting inordinate amounts of “control” (this being a major sin for women). In Reeducation, as we know already, such achievements were reserved for people from perfect families; the rest of us mortals were incapable of achieving such things in a genuine way. We were better off without them, because for us happiness and achievement could only be masks.

My point is that if you relinquish control like that, and accept the kind of gender role to which Rodoreda’s characters are forced, you are then open to the kinds of humiliations they undergo. And reeducation was invented to keep women in their places and convince them that the poor results of this were their fault. I have said it before and I run across books and essays confirming this all the time. Note once again:  relinquishment of control leads to abjection.


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