On the occasion of the recent death of the writer Almudena Grandes, we have read numerous articles and obituaries paying tribute to “the narrator of the memory of the forgotten”, a clear reference to the series of novels dedicated to the Spanish Civil War and the anti-Francoist resistance under the title Episodios de una guerra interminable, the literary project on which the author was working throughout the last decade of her life.

Despedida a Almudena Grandes en el cementerio civil de Madrid. Fotografía de Ramón Lobo. Twitter / Almudena Grandes

Farewell to Almudena Grandes at the civil cemetery in Madrid. Photo by Ramón Lobo. Twitter / Almudena Grandes. Fotografía de Ramón Lobo. Twitter / Almudena Grandes

This fundamental contribution to the recovery of the Spanish resistance memory has been one of the most highlighted and praised aspects in the tributes dedicated to the figure of one of the most important narrators of Spanish literature.

But this has not been the only one. In her novels, Grandes has not only vindicated the anti-fascist struggle that remained active for several decades after the Republican defeat, but her literature has also been characterised by her vindication of women’s active participation both in war conflicts and in care work.

The latter has been systematically invisibilised because it belonged to the rearguard and because it was a feminised task, and yet it was fundamental, as it was what made open confrontation possible. For this reason, we can consider that one of the legacies of the writer from Madrid is to give back their rightful place to the women who fought alongside the men.

An affiliative memory: the historical and narrative proposal of the Episodes

Immortal history does strange things when it meets the love of mortal bodies”.

This is the thesis of the first novel in Grandes’ memoir cycle, and it functions as a kind of mantra that seeks to respond to the apparently irrational decisions that great figures in twentieth-century history made that affected the lives of grassroots militants.

However, this phrase also serves to understand Grandes’ bid for remembrance in which women play a primordial role, as they are the ones who created and sustained these fundamental networks to guarantee the possibility of resisting Franco’s regime and to sustain life even in the most adverse situations.

History of affection, the complexification of the narrative of memory

By choosing women and their networks of care as protagonists, Grandes introduces a series of questions that help us to approach the development of the war and its consequences in a more complex and diverse way.

By focusing on personal relationships, she manages to show a range of victims who are not always part of the wartime imaginary: the rearguard in exile, people from the LGTBIQ+ collective, those affected by post-war misery, orphans exploited in institutions controlled by the clergy, patients in mental hospitals, urban and rural links, and a long etcetera.

The series Episodes of an Endless War. Twitter / Almudena Grandes