Between Europe and North Africa: Reflections on Spain and Morocco in the War Novels of Carmen de Burgos (1909) and Ernesto Giménez Caballero (1923)

Elisabeth Bolorinos Allard


This paper explores the notion of cultural and racial bonds and boundaries between Spain and North Africa in two literary works written during the Spanish colonial campaigns in Northern Morocco in the early twentieth century: Carmen de Burgos’ En la Guerra (1909), and Ernesto Giménez Caballero’s Notas Marruecas de un soldado (1923). My analysis centres on the opposing concepts of degeneration and regeneration. I argue that Carmen de Burgos’ novel establishes hierarchical moral and racial boundaries between Spain and Morocco, and that these boundaries reflect her underlying anxieties concerning cultural differences between Spain and North Africa and the possibility of degeneration through contact with an ‘uncivilized’ environment. Giménez Caballero’s vision of Morocco in Notas Marruecas is also informed by a set of binary oppositions; however, unlike Burgos’ positioning of Spain as culturally superior to Morocco, Giménez Caballero locates Spanish culture somewhere between Europe and North Africa and sees contact with Morocco as a potential source for national regeneration. Ultimately the analysis sheds light on some of the complexities and underlying anxieties of Spanish cultural discourse on North Africa in the first decades of the twentieth century.

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DOI: 10.14324/111.2057-2212.052


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