Interiors and Narrative

Estela Vieira

The Spatial Poetics of Machado de Assis, Eça de Queirós, and Leopoldo Alas

261 pages
ISBN 9781611484328

Now in paperback: $39.99

Interiors and Narrative shows how crucial interiors are for our understanding of the nature of narrative. A growing cultural fascination with interior dwelling so prevalent in the late nineteenth century parallels an intensification of the rhetorical function interior architecture plays in the development of fiction. The existential dimension of dwelling becomes so intimately tied to the novelistic project that fiction surfaces as a way of inhabiting the world. This study illustrates this through a comparative reading of three realist masterpieces of the Luso-Hispanic 19th century: Machado de Assis's Quincas Borba (1891), Eça de Queirós's The Maias (1888), and Leopoldo Alas's La Regenta (1884-1885). The first full-length study to juxtapose the renowned writers, Interiors and Narrative analyzes the authors' spatial poetics while offering new readings of their work. The book explores the important links between interiors and narrative by explaining how rooms, furnishings, and homes function as metaphors for the writing of the narrative, reflecting on the complex relation between private dwellings and human interiority, and arguing that the interior design of rooms becomes a language that gives furnishings and decorative objects a narrative life of their own. The story of homes and furnishings in these narratives creates a semiotic language that both readers and characters rely on in order to make sense of fiction and reality.


"the author's demonstration of the exploration of inner space (both domestic and personal) by these three major writers who (in different respects) look forward to literary Modernism as much as they look back to the Realist tradition is a well-researched and original contribution to the understanding of their work"

--David Frier, University of Leeds; Bulletin of Spanish Studies (August 2014) vol. xcl no. 7

"On the one hand, Estela Vieira's Interiors and Narrative is a demonstration of an important factor in the history of the novel: the reality that 'in the late nineteenth-century interiors are so central that it is hard to find a novel that is not fascinated with dwelling. Even novels that at a first look seem engaged with more abstract and theoretical concerns are in effect preoccupied above all with interior space' (2). On the other, it is a stimulating close reading of three canonical novels by preeminent voices of the Iberian world... For its overall conceptual rigor and for the acuteness of its reading of the three important novels in question, Estela Vieira's book deserves serious attention, not just from students of the authors and their works, but also from all those interested in the question of space in literature."
--Paul Dixon, Purdue University; Journal of Lusophone Studies; Vol. XIII, (Fall 2015)

About the author:

Estela Vieira is assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University Bloomington. Her publications include articles and book chapters on Portuguese, Brazilian, and Hispanic literature, culture, and film.


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