Martina, la rosa número trece: The Family Experience as National Tragedy


  • Kajsa C. Larson Northern Kentucky University


Scholars have used Derrida’s term hauntology to characterize the Spanish Civil War’s lingering effects in Spain, namely the presence of its ghostly traces in late twentieth and early twenty-first century cultural production. At the turn of the twenty-first century, there has been an explosion of memory texts about the lesser-known experiences of the war’s victims. This essay examines Ángeles López’s Martina, la rosa número trece (Martina, the Thirteenth Rose, 2006), a novel about the 1939 execution of Martina Barroso García and twelve other women, collectively nicknamed the ‘Trece Rosas.’ López’s novel is the first to interpret the execution from the perspective of a family member, Martina’s great niece. Through an analysis of López’s novel, it is possible to see the inner workings of Derrida’s concept of hauntology, as well as a renewed effort by younger generations to research, confront, accept, and heal from the traumatic events that they did not personally experience. Martina’s memory is not only a metonymic trope for what happened to many other people during the war but also for the impact that her death had on loved ones. As an example of historiographic metafiction, the self-reflective qualities of the narrative encourage readers to consider how some of their own ghost stories have shaped their individual and collective identities, as well as how the past has been recorded and transmitted. In an interview López states: “Todos tienen una Martina en casa” (Ev- eryone has a Martina at home). Martina’s story is emblematic of the larger process of recuperation of historical memory that is currently taking place in twenty-first century Spain.