Out of isolation
: Life writing in María Zambrano, Rosa Chacel and Felicidad Blanc

  • Veronica Mollica

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores distinctive examples of life writing by twentieth-century Spanish women writers: María Zambrano (1904-1991), Rosa Chacel (1898-1994) and Felicidad Blanc (1913-1990). It takes into account an experimental autobiography, Delirio y destino, a literary diary, Alcancía, and a memoir in dialogue, Espejo de sombras. Through the analysis of these texts this thesis proposes to look at life writing as a means of counteracting a sense of isolation. It considers the similarities and differences of these authors’ nonconventional approaches to life writing, the negotiation of their experiences of isolation and the strategies they created to find a way out of it. The examination of their conditions of isolation is connected to the discussion of the relationship between the personal and collective. In particular, this is an examination of their use of life writing as a strategy for placing themselves in relation to a community and making connections with others, that is to say moving out of isolation. Also, it proposes to look at gender as an additional mechanism of isolation and at life writing as a space of negotiation of the complex dynamics of gender. Chapter 1 offers a review of the existing scholarship on life writing and introduces the key terms used in this thesis. Each subsequent chapter approaches the study of life writing using a different theoretical concept. In chapter 2 the delirio is the key concept used to discuss Zambrano’s text, in chapter 3 the idea of destiempo provides the conceptual framework for looking at Chacel’s Alcancía and chapter 4 explores Blanc’s Espejo de sombras in terms of rebellion and conformity. Through the exploration of distinctive types of life writings that deal with different experiences of isolation this thesis aims to contribute to the ongoing conversation about Spanish women writers by providing new insights into the way in which we read life writing.

Thesis embargoed until 31 July 2027.
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership
SupervisorGabriel Sanchez Espinosa (Supervisor), Daniel Kowalsky (Supervisor) & Geraldine Lawless (Supervisor)


  • Life writing
  • isolation
  • exile
  • Spanish women writers

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