Pascual Duarte’s Escape From Freedom: A Study of the Authoritarian Personality and the Rise of the Authoritarian State
KeywordsCamilo José Cela
The Family of Pascual Duarte
Escape from Freedom
Latin America. Spanish America
French literature - Italian literature - Spanish literature - Portuguese literature
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AbstractIn a 2002 article that appeared in El País, the Spanish writer Javier Cercas allies himself with other scholars who have argued that during the time of its publication The Family of Pascual Duarte (1942) by Camilo José Cela, served as an apologia for Franco’s dictatorship. Following the ideas articulated by Erich Fromm in Escape from Freedom (1941) about fascism as a reaction against the effects of individual isolation in the modern era, I relate Cerca’s political interpretation of The Family of Pascual Duarte with existential and psychological readings of the novel. I argue that the moral decline of Pascual Duarte is the result of his inability to live up to the existential burden of freedom in the seemingly uncaring, anarchical and meaningless universe associated, from the Nationalist perspective, with the political and social programs of the Second Republic. While Pascual tries to elude this responsibility through various mechanisms of escape, primarily through practices of submission and domination, the lack of any legitimate authority to submit to or of any sphere in which he can legitimately assert his own authority, leads Pascual to unwittingly present his meaningless and immoral life as a case for the reassertion of a dictatorial regime.