Ana María Matute Interview in El País

There is a great interview in El País with Ana María Matute. They talk about how her heath has kept her from writing recently even though she has been completely mentally able to write. When talking about literature they discuss Matute’s works for children and how she has often written from the perspective of children. It has been very important throughout her career to write for them, in part because there wasn’t anything good and she wanted to write for her son. They also talk about how her mother supported her writing, something rare during the Franco Period, and with her help would type up her drafts before submitting them to publishers.

There was fascinating questions about her style.

You seem especially predisposed to this type of literature [sparse], since you uphold plain and straightforward writing that is not easy to achieve; en fact, you say it is very difficult. Yes. It is that I want the whole world to understand me. I don’t want to torture the reader. No. There are a lot of writers that love to torturer the reader. Not me! [Said harshly] I like that the understand me. For this reason I write. In addition, I’m not such an elitist.

Usted parece especialmente predispuesta a este tipo de literatura, ya que defiende la escritura llana y sencilla, que no es tan fácil de conseguir; de hecho, usted dice que es muy difícil. Sí. Es que yo quiero que me entienda todo el mundo. Yo no quiero torturar al lector. No. Hay muchos escritores a los que les encanta torturar al lector. ¡A mí no! [Proclama con dureza]. A mí me gusta que me entiendan. Para eso escribo. Además, no soy tan elitista.

She also talked about her relationship to the Civil War and recent pushes to investigate the past in Spain.

Undoubtedly it is a traumatic experience. It was tremendous. I still can’t stand fireworks. They have the same sound as the bombs. The bombardments here in Barcelona were terrible. By sea and by air. We lived on Platón Street and back then I saw the sea from my room and I was completely frightened. You feel so powerless…My father would say: take everyone by the hand against the teacher’s wall. And we all would stay that way…[She remains quiet, in suspense, with a face of fear]. I also remember the lines. Those of us who were bourgeois children, those that didn’t go out without one’s father [she makes a face of horror], we quickly had to go stand in line to get bread, where nobody gave a damn. For us it was great! Because we had the liberty to come and go…We looked like mice wanting to go after cheese. My older brother and I discovered freedom. We enjoyed it a lot.

I have found that many people your age reject, perhaps out of fear, the plans to recover the historical memory, to remove this part of history from the past. It is that the way perhaps the fear hasn’t gone, but yes the sadness [remains], the laceration, and the waking of hatreds. I understand that those that have not lived the war have their own feelings, but for me it makes me shiver. To return to relive, to remember. I remember the attempted coup de Tejero [in 1981]. I was with my son in a taxi and we hear the shots on the radio. Look! And I became desperate. “Not again! No, God, not again!” My son asked me: “What’s happening mama?” The taxi cab driver and my son began to talk about what was happening and I would only say: “No, not again. No I will resist it.

Indudablemente es una experiencia muy traumática. Es tremenda. Yo todavía ahora no soporto los fuegos artificiales. Tienen el mismo sonido que las bombas. Los bombardeos aquí en Barcelona fueron terribles. Por mar y por aire. Nosotros vivíamos en la calle de Platón y entonces veía el mar desde mi cuarto y pasaba un miedo espantoso. Te sientes tan impotente… Mi padre decía: cojámonos todos de la mano, contra el muro maestro. Y así nos quedábamos todos… [Se queda quieta, en suspenso, con cara de susto]. También me acuerdo de las colas. Nosotros, que éramos unos niños de clase burguesa, de esos que no salían más que con las tatas [pone cara de horror], teníamos de pronto que ir a hacer colas para conseguir el pan, sin que a nadie le importara. ¡Para nosotros era fenomenal! Porque teníamos libertad de entrar y salir… Parecíamos ratones deseando salir del queso. Mi hermano mayor y yo descubrimos la libertad. La disfrutamos mucho.

He comprobado que mucha gente de su edad rechaza, quizá por miedo, los intentos de recuperar la memoria histórica, de remover esa parte del pasado. Es que de la guerra quizá ya no te queda el miedo, pero sí la tristeza, el desgarro y un despertar de odios. Entiendo que los que no han vivido la guerra tengan un sentimiento distinto, pero a mí me escalofría. Volver a repasar, a recordar. Me acuerdo del intento de golpe de Estado de Tejero [en 1981]. Yo iba con mi hijo en un taxi y oímos los tiros a través de la radio. ¡Mira!, me entró una desesperación… ¡Otra vez no! ¡No, por Dios, otra vez no! Mi hijo me preguntaba: “¿Pero qué te pasa, mamá?”. El taxista y él empezaron a hablar de lo que estaba pasando y yo sólo decía: “No, otra vez no. No lo resistiré”.

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