Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Spanish & Portuguese

First Advisor

Nina Molinaro

Second Advisor

Nuria Silleras-Fernandez Date

Third Advisor

Luis T. Gonzalez-del-Valle


Ana María Matute (1926-) is unanimously considered one of the most important Spanish novelists writing after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). She has received national attention in the form of numerous literary prizes including the Premio Nadal in 1960, for Primera memoria. Most recently Matute was honored with the Premio Cervantes in 2010, which makes her the third woman to be awarded the prize since its creation in 1976. The publication of La torre vigía in 1971 sparked a literary turning point in Ana María Matute’s career that would extend for more than thirty years. She left behind her well-known and highly acclaimed body of work which consisted of “social realist” novels and short stories in favor of novels written entirely in the mode of fantasy. La torre vigía, Olvidado Rey Gudú (1996) and Aranmanoth (2000), comprise a trilogy that explores various fantasy elements and takes place in other worlds in which fairies, princesses, ogres, elves, wizards and human beings coexist. In addition, these texts incorporate older literary forms such as the saga, the fairy tale, the epic poem and the legend into the genre of the novel. The present study uses Northrop Frye’s theory of modes in order place the novels along the spectrum from realism to fantasy according to the protagonist’s relationship to other characters and to his/her surroundings. While the protagonists aid us in determining one way in which the trilogy belongs to the mode of fantasy, Matute’s creation of a pact with the reader is also an essential part of a successful fantasy novel. With each text, I analyze how Matute lures us into, and encourages us to remain in, these seemingly impossible worlds. Finally, I show how these other worlds act as a mirror for our own reality by revealing Matute’s hallmark themes. In La torre vigía, she defends the weak and the exploited; in Olvidado Rey Gudú she criticizes political conflict and shows the consequences of greed; in Aranmanoth she questions the notion of honor and the duplicity of human nature.