Carmen Laforet is very well known. She wrote Nada, one of the best twentieth-century European novels. Laforet was highly sensitive; she had a great capacity for introspection and self-analysis and also for laughter and elation. Her relationship with authorship, that bridge between her and the world, was, however, very tense. Key to understanding this tension are the challenge to integrate family life and intellectual life as well as the burden of domestic chores along with the subsequent lack of time and space to healthily develop an authorial voice.
When I was going to have my first daughter, I thought I wouldn’t go back to writing. I thought raising children would be the same. I was wrong.
Following the success of her debut novel Nada, Carmen Laforet evaluates the reasons for her painful relationship with her writing. She puts pain and love into the page. These emotions do not easily coexist. Sometimes, in fact, they are terribly exhausting. This is all explained in these cartasvivas to her literary mother, Elena Fortún.
I need nothing more than balance, my work and that I don’t cause anyone harm.
Living is as difficult as writing. The writer, also a young mother, yearns only to live in harmony and confront daily existence with a gentle but constant joy. Without doubt, writing flows easier in those circumstances. It’s crucial that life not be lived as a miracle, rather that it be lived with a conscious and productive happiness. How can this woman, come writer and young mother, reach that state and live in it every day?
I know that, in the end, freedom leads to destruction. I also know that, often, giving up on it leads to another, calmer and purer, state of mind.
Laforet evaluates the role pain plays in our lives and the spirituality of human beings. When the struggles of life have been particularly difficult, when there has been crying and pain, one also matures. It is impossible to aspire not to suffer. It is necessary to aspire to happiness and know how to maintain self-control through difficult times. She repeats these ideas to herself in the grey Spain of the mid-20th century. There is a certain resignation in these reflections. There is also a thirst for serenity.
A Project by University of Exeter, University of Barcelona and Santander Fundación
Written and Directed by: Paula Ortiz y Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles
SOURCE: De corazón y alma (1947-1952). Carmen Laforet y Elena Fortún. Colección obra fundamental. FBS