Memorias de Leticia Valle / Memoirs of Leticia Valle
Novel , 1945
Memorias de Leticia Valle is the fictionalized diary of an eleven-year-old girl who records an "inconceivable" seduction. Set in early twentieth-century Spain, the events she chronicles take place in the village of Simancas, site of a castle that houses a famous archive. Leticia, the archivist, and his wife—Leticia's piano teacher—are the actors in this drama, which is rehearsed in a purely introspective way. The seduction resembles that of a thirteen-year-old girl in Dostoyevsky's The Possessed, but it does not result in Leticia's mental or physical destruction. Rather, it acts as the catalyst for a deep questioning and exploration of life. A story of family secrets that uses the sensual awakening of an adolescent girl to show the prejudices and codes limiting the education received by women during that period, as well as the place they had to occupy in their society.
“Leticia’s haunting story is not so much that of another Lolita, at last given voice, as it is a portrait of the artist as a young girl. What Leticia seeks to record are the contours of her own ‘inconceivable’ self, those elements in her personality that make her an artist. Indeed, Leticia engages our sympathies precisely because she refuses the role of victim, instead striving to acknowledge the degree of her complicity.” Kathryn Davis, New York Times Book Review
“Rich and rewarding in its sensitively nuanced evocation of awakening sexuality and passion. A notable debut.” Kirkus Reviews
“A clear and sensitive translation. . . . Maier’s afterword helps illuminate the plot and provides a historical and literary context in which to interpret the text, making important connections to Dostoyevski and Freud.” Publishers Weekly