chapter  10
12 Pages

Modernity and Madrid

The Gendered Urban Geography of Carmen de Burgos’ La rampa
WithRebecca M. Bender

This chapter focuses on Carmen de Burgos' 1917 novel La rampa, given that professional women like Burgos – and her fictional, working-class female protagonist – themselves occupied a paradoxical, even ambiguous space within Madrid's modernizing urban cartography. As Madrid expanded and transformed into a modern, commercial centre, its rapid growth afforded aspiring writers and working-class women new opportunities for employment in the public sphere – a liberating sense of anonymity that was impossible to experience in small rural towns. The novel depicts a variety of spaces and situations that are conspicuously absent from canonical male-authored narratives of life in Spain's largest city. To briefly summarize the novel, La rampa portrays the life experience of Isabel, a single, formerly middle-class woman in her early twenties who must suddenly struggle to support herself in Madrid after the deaths of her parents. The Madrid that Burgos brings to life in La rampa is a volatile city of partitioned spaces.