Transition and Liminality in Elisa Brufal’s Siete puertas (1954/1964)

The first-person narrator in Elisa Brufal’s _Siete puertas_ (1964) passes through these metaphorical doors as she experiences the right of passage from adolescence to adulthood. This movement captures the essence of liminality as Mihai Spariosu explains, following Victor Turner and Arnold van Gepp, in that it focuses on the second of the three the stages in the separation/transition/incorporation paradigm of a subject in relation to his or her socio-cultural reality. The now-adult woman recounts what Turner would label “subversive and playful events” (Spariosu 33) she experiences with seven men as she journeys toward adulthood and navigates the circuitous path laden initially with timidity and ultimately with transgression. Her testimony details the route that led to her securing a normative position in society now that she has married, yet in reaching this point in her life, she inhabits in a liminal world, an in-between space designed to afford her the opportunities to grow, but within the dictatorial confines of prescribed gender roles. Her incorporation into society as a stable, i.e. married, woman, as she moves away from the liminal space, however, may appease the censorial requirement that the narrative adhere to an acceptable moral code (as will be seen in the analysis of the novel's censorship file) but in doing so fails to honor the protagonist’s sense of agency legitimately acquired during the liminal stage. This novel, written in 1954 but not published until 1964, was the runner up for the 1957 Planeta Prize and is notable not only for the rich portrayal of the protagonist but also of the author’s hometown of Elche. The town’s physical remove from Madrid underscores in today’s readers the sense of marginality the protagonist experiences as she passes through the liminal stage followed by her impending embrace of normativity.

Reference

Spariosu, Mihai. _The Wreath of Wild Olive: Play, Liminality, and the Study of Literature_.

Note: This paper is part of the proposed panel co-organized by Lisa Nalbone and Alison Ridley titled “Expanding the Conceptual Framework of Liminal Spaces: Literature, Culture, and Film in 20th Century Spain”

Track: 

  • Spanish Peninsular Studies