A Mirror of History: The Self and Its Reflections in Jorge Semprún’s Oeuvre. Veinte años y un día: Duality and Vertigo

  • María Semilla A. Durán
  • Lisa Carter
Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


Jorge Semprún’s oeuvre is exceptional for the literary critic who decides to explore it, rife with theoretical questions and possible interpretations. Critics must be open to constant adaptation and flexibility with concepts, as his works challenge all academic definitions of literary genres. From memoir to autobiography—never entirely orthodox—from literary testimony to novel—always to some extent autobiographical or autofictional—what Philippe Lejeune calls the “autobiographical space” stretches out, in full relief, the boundaries blurred. How then do we read this set of texts, each of which presents a different intention and configuration, but all of which point (though often with detours or deviations) to the same referent, the same conscience, a single voice that is recognizable in all of them? Who are the people in the texts and who is the historical figure, the witness, and the writer over time that emerge from this textual journey? To quote Philippe Lejeune:

Posed in this way, the nature of the problem changes completely. It is no longer necessary to know which of the two, autobiography or novel, would be truer. It is neither one nor the other; autobiography will lack complexity, ambiguity, etc.; the novel accuracy. So it would be one, then the other? Rather, one in relation to the other. What becomes revealing is the space in which the two categories of texts are inscribed, and which is reducible to neither of the two. This effect of contrast obtained by the procedure is the creation, for the reader, of an autobiographical space. (On Autobiography 27)


Concentration Camp Narrative Identity Literary Genre False Identity Single Voice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Ofelia Ferrán and Gina Herrmann 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • María Semilla A. Durán
  • Lisa Carter

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations