Date of Award

Spring 6-13-2021

Department or Program

Comparative Literature Program

First Advisor

Antonio Gómez

Second Advisor

Melissa Zeiger


In this article, I explore the Spanish writer Carmen Martín Gaite’s affinity with Virginia Woolf’s modernism. In particular, I analyze the modernist theme of alienation so prominent in Woolf’s To the Lighthouse that Martín Gaite expresses in her novel El cuarto de atrás (The Back Room). To do so, I provide historical analysis of Woolf’s and Martín Gaite’s respective cultures to contextualize the ways in which the writers treat modernization as an alienating condition of modernity in the novels. I focus on Woolf’s depiction of estrangement experienced by the characters Mrs. Ramsay and Lily Briscoe from To the Lighthouse to frame how Martín Gaite treats alienation felt by the female narrator-protagonist of The Back Room. By structuring The Back Room as a parody of the novela rosa (romance novel), Martín Gaite illustrates the dynamics of a female character who experiences women’s social roles evolving under the pressure of modernization with a critical edge.