Cela’s Men and Woman: Multiple Masculinities versus One Femininity in <i>Mazurka for Two Dead Men</i>


In Mazurka For Two Dead Men, Camilo José Cela creates a world heavily populated with vivid types of men and seemingly only one type of woman. Female characters in the story are primarily sexual (and promiscuous) beings, depicted mostly in the context of erotic encounters deprived of sensuality or tenderness. Easily accessible female bodies serve to present the various kinds of masculinity through the nature and quality of men’s interactions with women. Credited with the popularization of the so-called tremendismo, a specifically Spanish literary technique related to realism and naturalism, Cela does not shun explicit depictions of phenomena such as violence, deviation, prostitution, deformity, or bestiality. The purpose of the following article is to demonstrate how Cela constructs masculinity and femininity in his novel, and what particular gender roles he assigns to his characters.

Key words: masculinity, femininity, realism, naturalism, tremendismo, Camilo José Cela.

Beardsley, Theodore S., cela, Camilo José, and KroniK, Eva, 1972: “Interview with Camilo José Cela.” Diacritics 2 (1): 42—45.

Cela, Camilo José, 1992: Mazurka for Two Dead Men. Trans. Patricia Haugaard. New York: New Directions.

Durán, Manuel, 1986: “Fiction and Metafiction in Contemporary Spanish Letters.” World Literature Today 60 (3): 398—402.

Gies, David T. (ed.), 2004: The Cambridge History of Spanish Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mallo, Jerónimo, 1956: “Caracterización y valor del ‘tremendismo’ en la novela española contemporánea.” Hispania 39 (1): 49—55.

Ortega, José, 1965: “Antecedentes y Naturaleza del Tremendismo en Cela.” Hispania 48 (1): 21—28.

Palley, Julian, 1961: “Existentialist Trends in the Modern Spanish Novels.” Hispania 44 (1): 21—26.

Pérez, Janet, 1988: “ ‘Mazurca para dos muertos’: Demythologization of the Civil War, History and Narrative Reliability.” Anales de la literatura española contemporánea 13 (1/2), Special Issue on the Spanish Novel (1930—1986): 83—104.

Sobejano-Morán, Antonio, 1995: “Modalidades discursivas en la ficción posmoderna española.” Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica 43 (1): 37—58.

Anna Pilińska  anna.pilinska@uwr.edu.pl
University of Wrocław 
Anna Pilińska (b. 1981) is a doctoral student at the University of Wrocław, with M.A. degrees in English and Spanish. She is currently working on her Ph.D. dissertation on the postmodern construction of sexuality in the prose of Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund White, Bobbie Ann Mason
and Achy Obejas.