Dr. Carmen Fernández-Klohe is Assistant Professor of Spanish at St. John’s University. She received her Ph.D. in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures from the Graduate Center of The City University of New York and specializes in Spanish literature of the twentieth century. Dr. Fernández-Klohe has written several books about the arts in Spanish literature. Her book, El imperativo ekfrástico en la prosa de Ramón Gómez de la Serna (2001) explores the relationships between literature and the visual arts in the period between the two World Wars.
2006 0-7734-5918-9 In this book, the author explores a variety of literary uses of the visual arts in La Escuela de Platón, an autobiographical trilogy where Rosa Chacel relates her coming of age as an artist while creating a vivid chronicle of the cultural and intellectual environment experienced by her generation. Chacel’s background in sculpture and painting gives this trilogy its unique perspective, while her experiences as a woman in the male dominated art world influence the structure of the novels.
The book gives an overview of the cultural context of the Generation of 1927, which illustrates the limitations confronted by a woman wishing to develop her artistic vocation. This is followed by a thorough review of the inter-relations between literature and the visual arts, as a preamble to the analysis of the uses of painting and sculpture in the novels.
The author studies the ways in which painting and sculpture become an integral part of the narrative at various levels, from the most superficial mention of a painting by Velázquez to the most complex coding of themes in the statue of Ariadne. There are some allusions to well-known paintings which are merely decorative in the narrative; but some iconographical elements become important tools in character development. The work of art can also introduce in the narrative encoded themes related to gender and vocation, becoming an important hermeneutic tool. This analysis of the various uses of visual arts in La Escuela de Platón reveals that the ekphrastic impulse is at the core of Chacel’s narrative.