Rodoreda, Mercè. The Time of the Doves. Trans. David Rosenthal. Saint Paul: Graywolf Press, 1981. Print. (ISBN: 978-0-915308-75-0)
Original language: Catalonian
Synopsis from the Back Cover:
“The Time of the Doves, the powerfully written story of a naive shop-tender during the Spanish Civil War and beyond, is a rare and moving portrait of a simple soul confronting and surviving a convulsive period of history. The book has been through over twenty printings in Spain, has been widely translated, and was made into a film.”
The period that frames this novel is also tumultuous. Spain was suffering a very difficult period in its history as it broke from tradition in pursuit of modernity and democracy. As a monarchy, the government failed to reach the needs of the majority of the country, thus propelling Spain into its Second Republic (1931-1936), a period of democratic governance, liberalized institutions, and a greater emphasis on equality and personal freedoms. Yet this change came with great repercussions.
The two main groups were the Nationalist and the Republicans. The Nationalists were the conservative party and were supported by the Catholic Church, the Army, and some aristocrats; it was the right- wing party. On the other hand, the Republicans were the liberal party supported by the middle and working classes, the left-wing party. The elections of 1931 took the Nationalists by surprise; they had been dominating the public arena for as long as Spain has been a nation, so it was predictable that this defeat would not be taken lightly.
Meanwhile, the people were enjoying freedoms they had never before experienced. Regionalists, citizens from Basque Country and Catalonia, wished to seize the moment to gain their autonomy from the rest of Spain. Women were allowed to vote, to work outside the home, to divorce, and to be considered as equals, so to speak. Workers established unions to protect their rights from abusive employers. Education, traditionally administered by the Church, became public and secular. Many schools were opened, and more people had access to education. Marriages, solely administered in the past by the Catholic Church to its members, could be performed by a justice of the peace or another official. All these changes were seen by the conservatives as tearing at the fabric of society.
The Second Republic had a short life. In the summer of 1936 the Spanish Civil War started. The General Francisco Franco rebelled against the government and became the leader of the Nationalists. With the help of Germany (Adolf Hitler) and Italy (Benito Mussolini), he defeated the Republican army constituted primarily by civilians and ended the war in 1939. Republicans, the defeated, received the derogatory name “Rojos” (Reds, or, in American parlance, “Pinkos”) as a reminder of their alliance with the Russian government (Joseph Stalin). During the time immediately after the war, members of the Republican party were severely persecuted. Many were killed or imprisoned. Castilian was considered the only official language of Spain, and the other languages, Basque, Galician, and Catalonian, were restricted to use in the home. Censorship came into effect, and the government and other institutions such as the Church and the Army could not be criticized. Spain fell into a military dictatorship of 36 years that ended with Franco’s death in 1975.
Look at the video and take notes.