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Nada

Nada

A Sanskrit term used in Hindu musical theory to denote subtle aspects of musical sound. There are two kinds of nada: anahata is the mystical essence of sound; ahata is the conscious realization of musical sound by human beings. Anahata is heard by yogis in meditation and is related to different chakras (psychic centers) in the human body. Nada upasana is the yoga of music, which brings God-realization through pure forms of music and meditation.

(See also Swami Nadabrahmananda Saraswati ; vibrations ; Alfred Wolfsohn )

Sources:

Rogo, D. Scott. Nada: A Study of Some Unusual "Other World" Experiences. 2 vols. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1970, 1972.

Sivananda, Swami. Music as Yoga. Rishikesh, India, 1956.

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Nāda

Nāda (Skt., ‘sound’). In Hinduism (especially Tantrism) cosmic sound: Brahman conceived as sound underlying all phenomena. Through yoga, especially mantra yoga, the senses are withdrawn (pratyahāra) and the yogin becomes aware of the nāda reverberating in the central channel (suṣumna nādī) of his subtle body (liṅga/sūkṣma śarīra). The vocalized sound of mantra becomes the unvocalized, inner sound of God. See further OṂ; ŚABDA; VARṆA; VĀC.

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Nada

Nada

by Carmen Laforet

THE LITERARY WORK

A novel set in Barcelona in the early 1940s; published in Spanish (as Nada) in 1945; in English in 1958.

SYNOPSIS

A young woman who moves to Barcelona to attend the university and live with her extended family experiences a variety of challenges in her personal relationships as she searches for her own identity.

Events in History at the Time of the Novel

The Novel in Focus

For More Information

Born in Barcelona in 1921, Carmen Laforet spent her childhood and adolescence in the Canary Islands (Las Palmas). After the death of her mother in 1934 and the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), she moved back to Barcelona and enrolled as a humanities student at the University of Barcelona. She studied later in Madrid but did not complete her university education. Focusing on her writing, Laforet wrote short stories and articles for local journals before composing Nada, her first novel and an instant success with critics and publishers. In 1945, the novel received the Premio Nadal, one of Spain’s most prestigious literary prizes, accompanied by a cash award of 5,000 pesetas, a significant amount of money for the time. Laforet has gone on to write three other full-length novels (the most recent, La insolación, in 1963) and several short stories (anthologized in La niña y otros relates, in 1970). Distinguished as the most notable of all Laforet’s works, Nada reinvigorated Spanish prose through its rich descriptions, distinctive narrative style, and the psychological depth achieved in its portrayal of characters living in post-Civil War Spain.

Events in History at the Time of the Novel

A devastating war

The origins of the Spanish Civil War stem back to a long and entangled history of economic issues, Church-state relations, and regional separatism, among other problems. While these problems began in the early nineteenth century, the immediate political origins of the war can be traced to the years 1931 to 1936. The Second Republic was established in 1931 with a democratically elected Cortes (parliament), whose members ranged from Fascists and Spanish Catholic Party adherents, to moderate Republicans and Socialists, to the more extreme factions of the Second Republic, the Communists and Anarchists. Beginning to address Spain’s nagging problems, the Cortes adopted a new constitution in 1931. Some of the new laws, however, alienated the Church and army and divided the middle classes, one of these laws being the separation of Church and state. There was a Catalan statute that allowed the region some political autonomy, but did not go far enough for Catalan politicians. One of the most difficult challenges of the period was providing economic relief, improved working standards, and more job opportunities for the poor in Andalusia, Spain’s largest agricultural region.

By 1936 divisions had exacerbated sharply between Church conservatives and liberals; among landowners, the middle class and the working class; and between those who demanded local rights and advocates of central control by Castile. Gil Robles, leader of the Spanish Catholic Party (Confederación Española de Derechas) “recalled that the Government had had, since the elections in February [1936], exceptional powers, including press censorship and the suspension of all constitutional guarantees. Nevertheless, during those four months, 160 churches … had been burned to the ground, 269 political murders were committed, and 1,287 assaults of various kinds occurred. [Robles] also reported that there had been in this four month period 113 general strikes” (Thomas, p. 4). All the controversy finally, perhaps inevitably, erupted into a civil war that pitted the Nationalists (military men, Church conservatives, monarchists, and landowners), ultimately led by Francisco Franco, against the Republicans, or anti-Franco defenders of the Second Republic.

On December 23, 1938, Franco began his last military offensive, aiming to finish off the war. By this time, supplies on both sides were low, so Franco obtained new German equipment and some Italian troops. Meanwhile, the anti-Franco forces suffered seemingly irremediable problems; their troops were depleted and no support from France or England was on the way. The Republican government moved from Valencia to Barcelona in October 1938, then conducted its final retreat in January 1939. Italian and Nationalist armies completed the takeover of Barcelona that month. Barcelonans had no heat, electricity, or dependable water supply. Most stores were closed, and lentils and bread were about the only food available to the people. For four days in January the city was again bombed by Italian pilots. On January 25, Nationalist and Italian troops began to occupy the city. The Republican government held its last meeting near the French border at Figueras. On February 6, Manual Azaña, president of the Republic, left for France. Prime Minister Juan Negrín and General Vicente Rojo followed three days later. Azaña resigned at the end of February. The Republican government was left without a president, and no willing successor. Franco’s army had defeated the Republic and now began to restructure a society in dire need of recovery from the devastation of the war.

The family and the Civil War

In some cases, the Spanish Civil War divided family members along political lines, at times forcing siblings, cousins and other family members to oppose each other on the battlefield and at home. Two male characters in the novel, Juan and Román, have participated in the war, and while the narrator does not provide many details of their experiences, some of them can be reconstructed from the text. Román has spent time in a cheka, a communist prisoner-of-war camp centered in Madrid. A relative remarks that “he changed during the months he was in the ’cheka’; they tortured him there” (Laforet, Nada, p. 38). Spread throughout Madrid, such chekas were in fact known for their characteristic cruelty and torture.

From the novel we also learn that Juan spent many years in North Africa (Morocco), where he joined the army (this could have either been the Spanish Army of Africa or the Foreign Legion, which consisted largely of Spaniards). In the Civil War, however, he seems to have fought with the Republican army, since Roman tried to convince him at one point to join the Nationalists. Juan ultimately heeded his brother’s advice, going to Madrid and crossing over to the Nationalists, as Roman had earlier. At this juncture, Roman took Juan’s wife, Gloria, back to Barcelona to live while Juan remained in Madrid. Roman risked his life by returning to Barcelona, since anti-Franco forces there could have caught and killed him for switching sides.

Years of hunger: economy and survival in postwar Spain

Laforet situates her novel in the early 1940s, a postwar era marked by economic difficulty and the establishment of Francoist policies. In the novel the narrator makes several references to hunger and lack of food, observations that reflect real-life conditions at the time of the novel. There was such a dearth of material goods that the 1940s has been characterized as los años de hambre (years of hunger). For most Spaniards, the challenge was one of sheer survival in finding food and jobs. Electrical brownouts were common in the early evenings to save energy; gasoline was expensive and in short supply; people sold cigarettes (a delicacy for the protagonist in Nada) one at a time; and cities economized in their own separate ways. In Barcelona, city authorities kept the electricity on for just a few hours a day; in Madrid, they halted public transportation for 60 minutes in the morning and 90 minutes in the afternoon to conserve resources.

Before the Civil War, Spain had moved steadily towards becoming an industrial and urban society. Between 1925 and 1936, for example, coal production had increased by more than 1,500 tons. The progress was neither continuous nor pervasive—sometimes production levels dropped, especially in 1929 as a result of the North American stock market crash; at other times they increased. The war, however, halted any progress the Spanish economy was making. The national income during the 1940s and for much of the 1950s fell back to that of 1914. Considering the increase in population, observed Par00ED;s Eguilaz, a prominent economist under Franco’s regime, the situation was actually worse: “the per capita income fell to nineteenth-century levels. That is, the Civil War had provoked an unprecedented economic recession” (Eguilaz in Carr, p. 155). Hardest hit was the agricultural sector, which was not to reachieve its 1929 level of production until 1958.

Barcelona in the early 1940s

Barcelona had been the center of Republican resistance in the Civil War and for some time the headquarters of the Second Republic government. The war largely demolished the city. Gloria, one of the female characters in Nada, recalls air raids that destroyed its environs. Throughout the war, Franco solicited military aid from Germany and Italy, and at one point, in March 1938, Mussolini himself ordered air raids on Barcelona. Italian pilots flying twin-engine seaplanes attacked at around 10:00 P.M. Making 18 raids in a 44-hour period, they killed 1,300 and injured some 2,000 others (Thomas, p. 523).

The major task after the war was to revive the city’s infrastructure and economy. The average weekly wage of an industrial worker was 100 pesetas, and a kilo of beef cost 50 or 60 pesetas, a dozen eggs 30 and a kilo of rice 11 pesetas. As these statistics indicate, salaries could barely provide enough to feed a family. Another problem facing the city was how to accommodate the high number of migrants arriving in the early ’40s. The lack of decent-paying jobs compounded the housing problem. Some 100,000 migrants are said to have arrived in Barcelona in the 1940s looking for opportunities they could not find elsewhere in Spain. Early in the decade Eduardo Moreno lamented the city’s problems: “The housing shortage gave rise to a catastrophic situation which was not far from complete breakdown. The 1940s were characterized by subletting, shanty dwelling, couples condemned to eternal courtship by the shortage of flats for the young married, intergen-erational conflict in the family home, and promiscuity” (Vázquez Montalbán, p. 155).

In addition to these economic problems, the people of Barcelona and the larger region of Catalonia faced a threat to their cultural survival in view of Franco’s attempt to unify Spain by eliminating regional identities. Barcelona and other cities that comprise the Catalan region of Spain have maintained an independent cultural identity throughout peninsular history. Intending to forge a single Spanish entity, Franco called for the suppression of these autonomous regions in favor of a federal identity originating from Castile or, more exactly, Madrid. One of Franco’s first measures was to ban public use of the Catalan language. In another example of what was viewed by many as cultural genocide, his regime ordered the restructuring of the prestigious Autonomous University of Barcelona. The failure of the novel to mention this restructuring and reaction to it is so conspicuous as to give rise to the thought that the novel may be purposely silent on this issue, perhaps because of censorship considerations. The novel mentions only Andrea’s studies and social network at the university, when it is known that the drive to quash long-standing distinctiveness threatened the cultural identity of the city and that this elicited strong reaction.

The Falange and the woman’s role in Franco’s society

In October 1933, José Antonio Primo de

FROM THE OFFICIAL BULLETIN DISSOLVING THE AUTONOMOUS UNIVERSITY OF BARCELONA, FEBRUARY 3, 1939

Article 3. [The autonomous] University of Barcelona will cease under the established regime by the Decree of June 1, 1933 and will be governed by the regulations that govern other central universities of Spain.

Article 6. The professorate of the University of Barcelona who belonged to the general ranks of the University will be suspended of their employment and will be obligated to reinstate themselves according to the rules that are indicated in the Order of this same date. The other professors of the University named by the General Assembly of Cataluña are suspended and can be reinstated once their ideology and political and social situation has been determined with relation to the [Fascist] Movement.

Rivera united the various authoritarian nationalist parties to create the Spanish Falange, his intent being to bring about a social and economic revolution in Spain. The party grew rapidly in the early months of the Civil War, and in April 1937 it fused with the Carlist party (those loyal to the monarchy) to form the Traditional Spanish Falange (FET). During Franco’s dictatorship, the Falange became the only recognized political party. It initiated and instituted many of the economic policies and practices implemented in the early 1940s, including the attempt to integrate all social classes through national syndicates or unions. The Falange strove for a hierarchical, authoritarian, and nationalistic state. It encouraged Catholic and patriotic values, insisting upon loyalty to Church and nation and, through the Falange’s Women’s Section, the traditional roles of wife and mother. The policy aimed to reverse a trend advanced by the Second Republic, whose parliament had, among other progressive steps, granted women the vote in 1931. To help effect the reversal, Pilar Primo de Rivera (sister to Jose Antonio) founded the Women’s Section of the Falange and advised women to remain subordinate: “Do not pretend to be equal to men, because far from achieving what you want, men will detest you tremendously and you will not be able to have any influence on them” (Pilar Primo de Rivera in Enders and Radcliff, p. 62).

Her teachings coincided with Franco’s goals. He conceived of the traditional family as the social foundation for his regime, the basis that would stabilize and justify his power. Supported by the Catholic Church, Franco championed a family structure based on an authoritarian male model that cast women in supporting roles.

The patriarchal family was seen as representing the corporate order of the state in microcosm.… The regime promoted an “ideal” image of womanhood as “eternal,” passive, pious, pure, submissive woman-as-mother for whom self-denial was the only road to real fulfilment.

(Graham and Labanyi, p. 184)

Confined to the domestic sphere, women became subject to nineteenth-century conceptions of them as the angel of the home. Francoist ideology expected them to assume responsibility for the cooking, cleaning, and imparting to children religious (Catholic) values, patriotism, and respect for male authority.

The Women’s Section of the Falange played a prominent role in promoting this Francoist ideology. Founded in 1934, the section aimed to educate women in their role in society. It featured teachers who provided schooling in home economics and the duties of motherhood while conditioning women to believe that men were the ones fit for the public world. Aside from its instructional functions, the Women’s Section administered the social service program (servicio social), which required volunteer service of all women aged 17 to 35 for six months in schools, orphanages, hospitals, and kitchens. Thus, they ensured a state system of welfare while being educated in Falangist values. The section’s permanent membership consisted largely of middle-class women, and its leaders had to be unmarried, in contradistinction to its role as an advocate of marriage. Aside from their other duties, members monitored couples to make sure that they did not use birth control and that they raised their children according to Catholic tenets.

Laforet’s novel challenges Franco’s patriarchal family model through its strong female characters and through Laforet’s own status as a woman writer in postwar Spain—a woman who is not the domesticated type that Franco was trying to encourage. The novel’s characters Andrea and Ena are both university students; Angustias and Gloria are employed outside the home. Within limits, then necessary in view of censorship laws, the novel reacts against Franco’s model and illustrates postwar realities and possibilities in relation to women and work or a university education.

The Novel in Focus

The plot

Nada is a first-person narrative, from the perspective of Andrea, who serves also as the novel’s protagonist. She bases the tale on her memories and experiences during a year spent with her mother’s family and university friends in Barcelona just after the Civil War. Divided into three sections, her story transpires over the course of 12 months. Rather than a tight narrative thread, it unfolds as a series of events and episodes that Andrea experiences among her friends and family.

Part 1 opens with Andrea’s late arrival in Barcelona by train. Because of a switch in the train schedule, no one is waiting for her at the station, but she seems not to mind. Andrea enjoys the freedom of being out at night, alone, in a large city. These sensations are cut short as her taxi arrives at her new home on Aribau Street, where she reunites with members of her mother’s family, who live in a filthy, dilapidated house. The oppressive domestic environment will compel Andrea to seek freedom, happiness, and stability outside her new home. After brief introductions to her grandmother, she steps into the bathroom to wash up before bed. Andrea compares the room to a witch’s house of smeared walls, chipped paint, and twisted faucets that suggest smiling madness. Throughout Part 1, she continues to describe the filth and oppression, meanwhile interacting with her relatives, characters governed either by unruly emotions or by tradition as they struggle to exist in ravaged postwar Barcelona. Her childhood memories of this place, which she visited when she was seven, clash violently with what she encounters now.

Andrea’s mother’s family displays a host of negative attributes. Juan and Roman, Andrea’s uncles, cater to their passions, vices, and laziness. During the Civil War, they initially fought on opposite sides, and now they evince an enduring animosity toward each other. Juan, an unsuccessful artist, overestimates his talents as a painter and has difficulty selling any of his mediocre paintings. Envious of his brother Roman’s creative talents, Juan struggles to find other employment. From time to time, he lands menial work, jobs that do not take advantage of the skills he has to offer; Juan is chronically underemployed. His wife, Gloria, suffers physical and verbal abuse at the hands of both Juan and Roman. The brothers met Gloria during the war, and both had romantic feelings for her. Roman hurls continuous insults at Gloria in Juan’s presence. Defiant in her own way, Gloria sneaks out of the house at night to earn money for Juan and their infant son by gambling at her sister’s pub, located in the red-light district of Barcelona (barrio chino). Meanwhile, the unmarried Roman ensnares women with his tan good looks. A shady character, he operated as a double agent during the Civil War and deals now on the black market, which takes him away from home for extended periods of time. Roman has many talents but does not make any effort to develop them, perhaps because the job market is so poor. He was once a respected pianist and violinist.

On its female side, Andrea’s kind, sensitive grandmother attempts to understand her children’s behavior as a result of the war and dismal circumstances that came after it. The family also includes Aunt Angustias, an assertive female of the traditional type. In Angustias’s view, a woman must either marry or enter a convent, as she does at the end of Part 1. According to some characters, however, she does so not strictly for honorable purposes but to conceal an affair with her employer, a supposition the novel does not completely deny or confirm. Angustias attempts first to indoctrinate Andrea, admonishing her to follow traditional, Catholic values. After Andrea arrives, Angustias takes charge of her upbringing. But Andrea never does adopt the values of her stern aunt, who neither understands nor loves her. Showing her own strain of defiance, Andrea breaks from her aunt’s dominance when she begins to manage her own finances.

Part 2 begins as Andrea leaves her university friend Ena’s house. Ena’s family lives in a model, middle-class household, vastly different from the one Andrea occupies. Andrea, who notices the blonde heads and cheerful complexions of those seated at Ena’s dinner table, compares her own family’s dark faces with the light characteristics of Ena’s brothers. “The contrast could not be clearer,” according to one critic, “Aribau [Street] represents the degenerate counterpart, the demonic inversion of the ideal family symbolized by Via Layetena [Ena’s family]” (Jordan, p. 31). Ena’s father, Luis, is handsome and generous; her mother, Margarita, who seems slightly out of place within this model family, plays the piano and sings beautifully. To Andrea, Ena’s family represents temperance and beauty in contrast to the perversion and ugliness of her own family. Andrea readily accepts invitations to eat at Ena’s. She also enjoys being with Ena and her boyfriend, Jaime, a 29-year-old man who shows little interest in business affairs but is honest and considerate in his relationship with Ena.

At certain points in the story, Andrea’s relationship with Ena changes in ways that help Andrea learn about herself as well as her friend. The results are surprising. Andrea’s world collides with Ena’s in Part 3 when Andrea learns that there is a common bond between her uncle, Roman, and Ena’s mother, Margarita. Margarita tells Andrea about a romantic and strange affair she had with Roman. Aware of this love of her mother’s, Ena enters into a dangerous game with Roman to avenge her mother of the damaging relationship. Her visits to Aribau leave Andrea embarrassed and confused; she tries to protect Ena from her dangerous uncle while Ena revels in her manipulation of Roman, which perhaps has such an effect that it helps explain Roman’s death by suicide. Another contributing factor may have been that both Ena and Gloria had threatened to disclose Roman’s illegal business dealings.

A supplementary social world in which Andrea circulates is the bohemian loft of her artistic friends from the university. These friends invite her to spend afternoons with them while they discuss art and their aspirations to create great masterpieces that will shock the artistic world. Appreciating her differences, they approve of Andrea, and she basks in their attention.

During her year in Barcelona, Andrea experiences a few romantic encounters and gains a growing awareness of her own sexuality, which the novel portrays with a level of discomfort and misunderstanding appropriate when seen through the eyes of the inexperienced Andrea. She remains naive and suspicious about men, basing her understanding of male-female relationships on romantic notions of love. More than her romantic relationships, Andrea relishes her artistic male friends, who make no sexual demands on her. She relaxes around them, without feeling forced to occupy a role for which she is unprepared.

Andrea’s many experiences during her year in Barcelona help her grow up. The title ironically suggests that she has gained nothing from a year that exposes her to anguish, death, love, and artistic creativity, all of which contribute to her maturation. Reminiscent of a fairy tale ending, the conclusion of the novel offers Andrea a new life full of opportunity. Faced with the decision of whether to stay in Barcelona or accept an offer to move to Madrid and work for Ena’s father while finishing her studies, her choice promises Andrea the stability that has eluded her amidst the difficult circumstances at Aribau.

What Nada leaves out

The narration of Nada raises questions in the reader’s mind about the characters and their activities. Many loose ends are left unresolved. What were Juan and Roman actually doing in the war? What exactly was their relationship with Gloria? What happened to Andrea’s grandfather? What are the details of Angustias’s relationship with her boss, Jerónimo Sanz? On the one hand, these unresolved issues lend credibility to the narration. Andrea, an outsider for many years to the family’s history, provides only the information she could possibly deduce from her current interaction with her various relatives. On the other hand, the ambiguities indicate the presence of censorship. Censorship in the immediate postwar period caused writers to remain overtly silent on issues that could threaten the stability of the Franco regime, such as the causes and effects of the Civil War. Literary historian Margaret E. W. Jones notes that “No accurate portrayal of the postwar Spanish cultural scene would be complete without mention of the type of censorship exercised during this period” (Jones, p. 2). The scantness of details regarding Juan and Roman’s involvement in the war and their employment after it point to key details that may have intentionally been left out because they would have threatened Franco’s military victory and undermined his power. In the immediate postwar years, what an author could or could not write became, in some ways, more important than what was written. In other words, the ambiguities and silences challenged censorship and Franco’s definition of life in Spain as black and white, true and false. Censorship itself was not a black and white process in postwar Spain:

Censorship of a novel did not mean that a work would be totally banned; there were many variations on the final verdict, which ran from total suppression to a request for changes or deletions; the censor might ban the book within Spain but allow it for export, authorize only a limited edition of the work, or even confiscate the book after publication. Evidence suggests that the most prevalent form of censorship was not the complete prohibition of a novel; most authors preferred to revise or cut the offending passage rather than not publish the work at all. Finally, Abellán [the scholar Manuel L. Abellán] notes still another, undocumented result of the censorship mentality: a type of self-regulation on the part of the author himself. This ’autocensura’ [self-censorship] was actually a state of mind that was subconsciously responsible for determining the entire composition of the work, thus automatically passing over potentially offensive material.

(Jones, p. 3)

Self-censorship forced a writer to leave out any challenging materials and resort to subversive techniques such as ambiguity and silence, which, unconsciously or consciously, allowed an author to testify to freedom-of-speech realities of the time. Though subtle, such techniques allowed an author to critique and challenge Franco’s cultural imposition of his power.

Sources and literary context

Laforet’s technique, themes, and other aspects of her work cannot be traced to a specific source or model, but the contents of Nada suggest a link between the story and the author’s life. When interviewed, Laforet maintained that her novels are not autobiographical. However, like other novelists such as Ernest Hemingway and Marcel Proust, who fuse their fiction with details of their own life, Laforet’s work indicates a similarity between fiction and real-life experience. Like her character Andrea, Laforet attended the University of Barcelona, moved to Madrid in 1942, and lived with her mother’s family. She maintained a close friendship with her friend Linka and Linka’s family in Madrid, just as Andrea does with Ena and Ena’s family in the novel. Laforet enjoyed walking about Madrid alone after studying at the Ateneo, Madrid’s literary club, just as Andrea does in Barcelona after studying at the university there.

Within the Spanish literary tradition, Laforet’s novel along with Camilo Jose Cela’s La Familia de Pascual Duarte (1942; The Family of Pascual Duarte , also in WLAIT 5: Spanish and Portuguese Literatures and Their Times) is an early example of tremendismo. In vogue in Spain in the 1940s, this type of literature featured seemingly unmotivated violence, emphasizing ugliness and horror and describing with pleasure some of the most sordid and repulsive aspects of human nature. The violence in Nada surfaces in details such as Juan’s treatment of his wife and in larger events like Roman’s suicide. A trend not new to Spanish literature, tremendismo is rooted in the sixteenth-century picaresque narrative and manifested visually in the art of Francisco de Goya in the early nineteenth century.

Nada breaks with the stale literary culture of dime-store novels whose publication was encouraged by the Franco regime during the postwar period, offering an alternative to this escapist literature. Commenting on this kind of culture, historian Raymond Carr observes that “[Spaniards] were immersed in the culture of evasion: the music hall; … ’photo novels’; anodyne radio serials which enjoyed an extraordinary vogue; ’kiosk literature’; finally, TV” (Carr, p. 164). An example of kiosk literature would be novels by Marcel Antonio Lafuente Estefanía, which were cheap, short, and entertaining. Lafuente Estefanía wrote and sold more than 125 of this kind of book between 1945 and 1950, all dealing with some aspect of the North American West, sporting titles such as Los batidores [rangers] de Texas, Camino de Santa Fe, and Los bandidos de Utah. This last, an 80-page novel published the same year as Nada, sold for 3 pesetas. Nada, a 300-page novel, sold for 20 pesetas. Happily, despite its length and cost, it would become a bestseller in 1940s Spain.

Reviews

Readers and critics alike have praised Nada for its spontaneity, vitality, and psychological depth. Upon discovering that Laforet was only 22 when she wrote the book, contemporary reviewers were astonished. They falsely assumed that the book was written by a man or at least by an older woman. Critics initially lauded the novel for its youthfulness, originality, and alternating depiction of brutality and tenderness. Older, established writers such as Azorín praised it as a beautiful book, inviting the author to write more novels that allow the reader to think and feel. Less enthusiastic, the poet Juan Rómon Jímenez complained about the lack of a coherent plot. Other critics faulted Laforet for a lack of realism in the creation of her characters (Johnson, p. 26; Jordan p. 28). Despite such criticisms, this novel continues to captivate readers and critics intrigued with its ambiguity, poetic imagery, and psychological depth. Nadal Prize committee member Rafael Vázquez Zamora, remarked that the novel “had a tremendous ’impact’ and stood out signally among the others presented by the contestants, thrust forward for its quality. It was undoubtedly an innovation in what was being written in Spain.” (Zamora in Johnson, p. 25).

—David Wood

For More Information

Carr, Raymond. Modern Spain 1875-1980. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Enders, Victoria Loreé, and Pamela Beth Radcliff, eds. Constructing Spanish Womanhood: Female Identity in Modern Spain. Albany: State University of New York, 1999.

Graham, Helen, and Jo Labanyi. Spanish Cultural Studies: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Grugel, Jean, and Tim Rees. Franco’s Spain. London: Arnold, 1997.

Hooper, John. The New Spaniards. London: Penguin Books, 1995.

Johnson, Roberta. Carmen Laforet. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981.

Jones, Margaret E. W. The Contemporary Spanish Novel, 1939-1975. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985.

Jordan, Barry. Laforet: Nada. Critical Guides to Spanish Texts. London: Grant & Cutler, 1993.

Laforet, Carmen. Nada. Trans. Glafyra Ennis. New York: Peter Lang, 1993.

Preston, Paul, ed. Spain in Crisis. The Evolution and Decline of the Franco Régime. London: Harvester Press, 1976.

___. The Spanish Civil War. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986.

Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1961.

Vázquez Montalbán, Manuel. Barcelonas. Trans. Andy Robinson. New York: Verso, 1990.

Wyden, Peter. The Passionate War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983.

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