“The great night of Europe is shot through with long, sinister trains”: Transnational memory and European identity in Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Sepharad

Lasse-Emil Paulsen


Since 1975 Spain has been engaged in the recuperation of the memory of the Francoist past. For a long time, under the headline “Spain is different”, the public debate has reflected a view of the Spanish experience as a particular event tied to the nation state. However, since the turn of the millennium such a notion is constantly being challenged by global and transnational influences that affect and reshape the local memory discourse(s). The following article aims to show how the novel Sepharad by the Spanish author Antonio Muñoz Molina could be read as a literary manifestation of a “multidirectional memory”, in which different memory scenarios in dialogue inscribe the memory of the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship into a common European memory context. In this sense, the novel can be read as a paradigmatic example of a transnational memory discourse, which tries to transcend traditional Manichean divisions between “us” and ‘them”, instead focusing on the persecuted and oppressed and warning us of the presence of totalitarian and exclusionary logics in our contemporary society.

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