The Spanish Diary Ana Frank

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The Spanish Diary Ana Frank


The objective of our work is to make an introduction to the work of the Spanish writer Ana María Matute onwards AMM in order to analyze her first published novel, the Abel, from the perspective of the literary movement called tremendismo. AMM is not only one of the most outstanding writers of their generation, but also one of the most productive in Spanish literature. 

He has been worthy of multiple awards, the last and most important of them is the Cervantes Award achieved in 2010. The choice of this issue is based on the fact that in the Department of Hispanic Philology of the University of Tartu, work on this valued writer or about tremendism and the author’s personal interest in female literature in female literature has not been writtenpostwar period.


Ana María Matute wrote the Abel, a work that obtained a brilliant classification in the call of the Nadal 1947 Award, at the early age of twenty -one years. Inspired by the biblical history of Adam and Eve, a reflection of the environment after the civil contest, is the dark and burning history of a family that creates such a tense and passionate environment that subjugates the reader. They are sad and tormented lives, very few of which escape the climate of anguish and exhaustion. The publication of this book was considered a literary revelation, a fact that would be confirmed in the successive works presented by its author.

In the case of author AMM there are important aspects that cannot be ignored when talking about her work. First, the simple fact of being a woman who writes and, second, that her literary creation belongs to the second half of the last century and in large part, more exactly, to the time called Spanish postwar period. Thus, AMM is a writer who is part of the generation known as "the generation of half a century". In the next subcapituli we will present these two aspects in more detail

In the fifties a new generation of authors appeared in the Spanish literary landscape that had common characteristics of biography and aesthetics so clear that they form an authentic group that is known as “the generation of the half century”. They were writers who began to publish during the forties and gained fame throughout the next. Although both novelists, theater writers and also poets, in this work we will see more specifically the characteristics of the first.

The most influential years for the work of the writer have been those of her childhood. In addition, as AMM is part of the half -century generation, its work is marked by the Spanish Civil War. The war times are a half of the experiences that have determined the thematic meaning of its creation, the other forms the past summers in Mansilla de la Sierra, at their grandparents’ house. The Spanish civil war began when he was eleven years old and revealed to the girl the existence of a different world: he showed him the miserable reality of man, pain, and death.

As was characteristic to the writers of time, AMM began their creation with a prose outside social realism, speaking of the effects of the civil war, often doing it from the point of view of the "astonished children": the name coined byshe herself to the children of war. His works do not imply any political ideology, but they certainly convey a social criticism. One of the most important issues in AMM’s work is made up of relationships between people, often among family members. For example, an outstanding symbol in its novels is Cainism, confrontation between brothers, its origins and solutions.

The novel Los Abel, published in 1948 when AMM was only 21 years old, marks its entry into the literary landscape. A year earlier, he had been semifinalist with the same book in the IV Nadal Prize Contest. This is a story narrated in the first person by two different characters. The narrator in the I-IV chapters is a young man who returns to a town who visited with his mother as a child. 

In these chapters he remembers his first meeting with the ABEL family and then describes the town and the people who live there during their visit. The man rents the old house of the mentioned family and there finds the newspaper of Valba Abel, one of the sisters who lived there. Thus, the second narrator is Valba, or more precisely, the V-XXIX chapters represent his personal diary that tells the sad story of his family.

This story develops in a rural postwar landscape where the family formed by the father and their seven children – Oswaldo, Augusto, Tito, Valbanera, Juan Nepomuceno, Octavio and Ovidia who are preferred to call using the nicknames Aldo, Gus, Tito, ValbaJuan, Tavi and the youngest simply the little one – all with a different character, try to live together. His mother has died and the father tries to maintain the unity of the family, using his land and home for that. However, life in a poor and monotonous rural area is not enough for young people who show different capacities and have their own interests. 

Only the older brother, Aldo, is interested in growing the land and continuing with the traditional life of his parents: other brothers want to escape from the people and live in the city. After some gray and depressive winters, the children leave, one after another, their father’s garden and move to the city. There they try to start a new and different life, but their destiny leads them again to the people of their parents, where two brothers, Aldo and Tito, different as day and night, have such serious problems that the first kills the second.

The atmosphere where Abel’s family lives acquires an important role in the novel, adding hardness, sadness and darkness to the story narrated. The author places the characters to a rural area, thus following the footsteps of Cela and her novel The family of Pascual Duarte. AMM shows the bad social and moral situation of postwar peoples, but also emphasizes the hardness of nature, isolation and field-city migration that affected places like this, using as probably the mensilla of the Sierra de la Sierra de la Sierra de la Sierra de la laspostwar period. 

The landscape that surrounds Abel’s house is hostile and hard. The first narrator describes his surroundings with the following words: “The house rose in a lonely and gloomy place, at the foot of the high mountains, where the rocks tear in a violent and tortured ravine.“(Matute 1988: 10). The family lives quite far from the other housing of the town and their house is isolated from the world by the river, to which during the winter the uncompromising snow is added. 

The house, which is not a cheerful place, is located in the middle of a dark and wild garden and becomes during the history of a unifying element to a symbol of loneliness and enmity. Also, the nearby town is a sad and poor place that does not offer anything comforting. The people’s teacher dies and they have no necessary resources to find someone new. 

They have a doctor, Eloy, but he admits that he is mediocre in his profession. In the town they live drunk, poor people and families without any luck. Valba describes in his diary the life of unfortunate people: “I remembered a woman from the town who put her children in a gamella, where she used to eat the pig. 

From a family of farmers who had arrived one day I did not know where and lived in a stable old that nobody used and that they always were sticking and reconciling."It also mentions the bad conditions of which at least have a job:“ In that town, our people worked and gross hugging to the same floor, mixing their sweat. Neither a machine, nor a break, nor a sweetness." 

The only richness of the people, the church, is destroyed by a fire. It was an immense tragedy for the local population: “The townspeople cried. He went and came with water cubes, spilling and wetting the ground ineffectively, stupidly. One boy, and another, and another, passed by me, and pushed me. They approached the walls, crowded, fearful and bound. 

They were all blaspheming because they didn’t know or could turn off their immense fear of God. Only the horror of death was going to be left on the ground, under their knees.”The people have no resources to restore the Church and thus become a place abandoned by God. The main story of the work is formed by the newspaper of the protagonist Valba. It is a retrospection to the life of her family and to all the tragedies that have been shaken and destroyed little by little. 

But in addition to the history of Abel’s family, this newspaper is a reflection on Valba’s life, his feelings and problems. Valba is a representative of the rare girl, the very common protagonist in the postwar female novel, which has a lonely character, which seems not very feminine in front of other women and who is looking for her own identity. 

But in addition to the typical features of the rare girl, AMM adds to Valba a kind of darkness and depth. The people’s doctor describes him with the following words: “What deep eyes: a whole world locked inside. The truth, I have never seen a look like that. Only sometimes the beggars look in the gutters or hungry. And it looked like a girl, with her undecided hands. He had wolverine teeth, hurtful like little stabs.". Adding to the mentioned constant comments about her bad behavior, AMM creates a rare tremendous girl, more gloomy than Andrea at all.

Life seems to Valba often ridiculous and meaningless: “Despite the sun, Jaqueline and I felt surrounded by one like melancholic fog. And suddenly it seemed to me, I, our house, our very grotesque words, ridiculous. Or perhaps immensely sad: as when it is not known whether to laugh or cry.". And although during his stay in the city it seems to have more hope in humanity, he loses it soon and before returning home he thinks again: 

"The day was lighting bodies and more bodies. Bodies were born and died;What routine, what oppression, what great stupidity.". Valba’s feelings aimed at other people are often love-hate. With his brothers he feels a strong connection and does not want them to move away from each other: “And we imagined each one on a different horse, focused towards seven opposite points. 

And this tortured me and harassed me."But there are also moments in which your emotions are totally contrary:" I think I hated everyone then. One by one, with fruition, guilty and aware of my feeling.”At the beginning of the novel, the feeling of love dominates, the brothers stay more united, but how much closer at the end of the story as much as a family can see them as a family. 

The same feelings of love also seem to her home, her friend Jaqueline and the town doctor, Eloy. Many times, during the moments of hate, Valba reaches an idea, to a frequent reason in his life: the flight. Already in the first chapters of the novel a negative image of the children Abel to the reader is painted. 

The first narrator remembers how he thought that these children were evil spirits, because his maid told him and his mother that "the demon will know where they will be" . That fear continued when the boy saw a little later to the same children playing “dark games;stones, mud ”and also seemed to possess their own language that no one but they could understand


As AMM has written during a long period of time, it is not possible to determine a specific literary style to which its work belongs. However, as it began to write after the civil war, at the time when the most common style was tremendism, the young author was influenced by this. 

During this period his first novel was born, the Abel, which is considered one of the representatives of the mentioned movement. Therefore, in the third chapter of our work we offer an introduction of the concept of tremendism, highlighting its typical characteristics that the roots have in the time of the civil war and the following years, marked by moral and social decline.

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