chapter  3
18 Pages

The Nullification of Domestic Space in Alberto Méndez’s “Los girasoles ciegos”

The setting of the city of Barcelona forms the backdrop against which, and in concordance with, Daniel and Fermin's investigation progresses and stalls. Barcelona was a victim of the Regime's anti-urban sentiment, which attributed the havoc of the Civil War to the working class proletariat of major cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona. The space par excellence of the habitable Barcelona is El cementerio de los libros olvidados, a place shrouded in secrecy, knowledge of which is carefully guarded by the cognoscenti. In a time of historical tumult when unprecedented and exciting possibilities of discovering new knowledge become viable, the fictional detective renders history accessible mainly due to a certain similarity with the historians' professional role. The lack of depth in characterization is revelatory of a simplistic, dualistic version of the Civil War and its aftermath, which is in striking contrast to the life knowledge and cultural sophistication Ruiz Zafon must surely have garnered living in the United States.