His father was a journalist. Every night, there was something that could not be missing on his nightstand: a note left by his daughter. In it, he told her what had hurt, amazed or happy him during the day. Was this the way Carmenmaria Hernandez (Madrid, 1939) to express their impressions.
At home, writing and drawing was “normal”. It “new” the thing is Hernandez He has already published six books. At 82 years old, he continues to develop the creativity that he has received as a “natural gift” In fact, just posted ‘A post-war girl’candidate for the prize of the Royal Academy of Languagewhich presents this Tuesday, May 3 at the Corpus Social Center of Segovia at 7:00 p.m.
She spent 13 years here: she was a contemplative nun in the Convent of the Dominican Mothers. But “a series of circumstances” removed him from ecclesiastical life and took him, four decades ago, to Cordova, where she worked as an English teacher at High school – graduated from English philology.
The author has always tried to enjoy the beauty of existence. She thus wanted to capture it in her latest book, in which she intends to portray a generation capable of savoring happiness in a Spain shortage and fatigue. It is not surprising for someone who found in literature and music his way of evading so much censorship, in one of the darkest periods in the history of Spain although, in his case, this was lived on the side of the winner – and with “absolute respect” towards the other half of the population.
— ‘A post-war girl’ is set in a context in which freedom was very limited. Does this reflect in her novel or, on the contrary, has she not wanted to get into political issues?
I lived it differently. He sang all the songs of this time, which tell how people lived, what it felt like, what was lawful and what was not. We speak of lack of freedom only as political censorship, but it was in many other fields and women were always the most affected. We lived in a preponderant machismo that still continues, evidently.
I don’t know in what other shots there was a lack of freedom. Our economy was very small and we had to do a handstand to be able to get ahead, and those who were in charge of that were the women. The men went out to work, but the women had no right to anything because they did not bring the money. There was no way out for the woman.
—In your case, how was your life as a woman in that society that, as you say, was macho, especially as you entered youth?
In my house there was a lot of talk. From a young age we learned to discuss and dialogue. We were lucky that at home we could talk. My father was a son of his time, he was chauvinist like everyone else, but he had a certain slack. In addition, at the University it was already the time of the student revolts. So, we begin to experience that ability to be critical of things at a young age.
— Did you participate in those riots?
I was never very political. I lived in that situation because I had friends who were among those who ran in front of the grays and who, in addition, went to jail, but I was not one of these, it was not what motivated me, my field was more beauty and aesthetics.
Music has been vital in my life, politics didn’t bother me that much, possibly because I was born in a house with right-wing ideas, although we could talk about everything. That sucks, I’m from the right by birth, but I understand the left very well, so I can easily combine the two things in me.
— Therefore, by belonging to the winning side, did you experience a “lighter” dictatorship?
I understand people who have lived through a strong dictatorship, who have suffered it in their flesh and who have been persecuted, I understand because I find it terrible, but I have not lived through that, I have not suffered from that type of dictatorship. He lived well, more or less. My experience of life was normal.
— How did the idea of writing ‘A post-war girl’ come about?
It was a request for love. Someone who loves me very much told me “tell me how you have lived, write it down”. So I started, never thinking of publishing it, but simply to answer that request for love.
— Would you say it is a love book?
Love is what has moved the book and I think it also provokes love when reading it. It is a book of love because I have listened to that little girl, I have allowed her to express herself, I have welcomed her, I have understood her and I have transmitted what she lives, feels and sees, and I have done it with the tenderness with which one understands a child, without judging him and without expecting anything other than what he gives you.
What arouses the most is to understand oneself. Many have told me that reading the book has awakened their own inner experience because, in reality, the child that we are is always with us.
Was it difficult for you to make that trip to the past?
I have a lot of practice in working on my interior, I am not ignorant of what I live and feel, I am very aware and I have always been a child, a young woman and an attentive adult, which means that, if you are close to your heart, you have more to hear.
Inside we have everything filed, when you open a drawer you allow the one next to it to move and open as well. It has been a great and fun job, because suddenly things came to my mind that I had forgotten, but they are in my consciousness.
— His goal is for his book to be a happy and colorful portrait, although that was a country of fatigue.
As I always say, when you remember you make poetry, not history. As much as we want to be very faithful to what we have lived through -in fact, there are very dark moments in this girl’s life, as in everyone else’s-, distance allows you to make poetry, not to express it in a bloody way.
— What are the best memories of your childhood?
How difficult, because I have had so many wonderful moments. He had the gift of seeing beauty. He enjoyed nature, the contemplation of the trees, the fields, the smells…
“And the toughest?”
Everything is light for the path, even if they are hard and painful moments, which I have been through, but I do not erase them, they are my treasure, because thanks to them I have been able to enter another inner dimension. Almost more what hurts us than what makes us happy, helps us get inside and centers us.
— Europe is now experiencing one of those “hard” moments. In his book he talks about the postwar period, and the West is witnessing another war in astonishment. Does it surprise you that in the 21st century this warlike conflict has taken place?
Man can be carried away by power and ambition, they are passions that are in his heart. That doesn’t change no matter how far we’ve come. Now we have a Putin and before we had a Hitler, a Stalin, a Mussolini and, in a way, a Franco. So, to be scandalized that this happens in this century, is not to know the human being. We need to dominate, unless we have done a lot of work within ourselves and know that we have come to clarify our own path.
— How was life for your family in such a polarized context?
We had just gone through a bloody, fratricidal war, in which half the population did not love the other half, and that is terrible. These consequences have been experienced later in Spain for a long time.
I was born just when the war had ended, but we had all of that sucked. I was born in Madrid in a very difficult time, of scarcity, which does not mean misfortune. We were lucky to be born in a loving home. We enjoyed what we had and, when you don’t have, the imagination develops in a splendid way. We were three very imaginative girls, who took advantage of everything we had, which was nothing. It is true that we had stories. My mother took great care of what we read and our stories were wonderful. I learned everything from stories and continuous session movies.
— Do you think that post-war polarization has certain parallels with the fragmentation that seems to exist in today’s society?
It is a terrible thing that we have not had enough with a three-year war and a postwar period. Now there are those who want to revive this in people who have not experienced it. It is one thing to claim justice, fairness, but right now being respectful of the opposite opinion is out of the question.
It is necessary that Spain hurts us, as Unamuno said, so that we do not enter into a collision and eternal war. In any case, we Spaniards have an extraordinary mental luminosity and a passionate heart, but we are warriors.
— He says he learned everything from stories. What kind of literature could I read in the postwar period?
At that time, all the stories were beautiful, with wonderful drawings. But how difficult it is now to find beautiful stories, those that make you contemplate beauty.
In my house there was a lot of reading, there was a large library because my father had read since he was a child. So, we started reading all the readings of a child, but right away we read good literature. All our adolescence and youth we read non-stop books of universal literature, that is, we have read everything.
— But that literature was marked by censorship.
No, Fyodor Dostoyevsky was not criticized by anyone. The moment was censored, possibly. But the other literature, the one that came from the 16th, 17th, 18th or 19th century, had no censorship at all. There were great authors of our time who were half censored. Vallejo, for example, was not censored. Reading Pardo Bazán or Galdós was not prohibited.
At that time the great writers were considered high literature, Cervantes, Calderón de la Barca, Machado, Oscar Wilde… I’ve read it all. All of these were masterpieces. Now people read a lot of things that are not great literature, but novels to pass the time.
— There were also many authors who had to go into exile.
Exactly. For example, Machado. But we could read them. It is true that his works were independent of their lives. All those escapes were pitiful. What happens is that that was at that time, and now all those who, for the Republic, had to leave and could not express themselves are highly praised.
But there were many who could express themselves, like Benavente, who has been swept off the map -although he was a Nobel Prize- because he was not one of those who were prohibited at that time. It seems that now only the forbidden has good press.
There were excesses on both sides, it is true that those who had to flee were more but, later, when all that changed, they swept away those who had been praised, not for their literature, but for their political ideas.
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“In the postwar period we lived in a preponderant machismo that still continues”