By the Grace of God: Francoist Spain and the Sacred Roots of Political Imagination

By the Grace of God: Francoist Spain and the Sacred Roots of Political Imagination

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By William Viestenz
Toronto Iberic
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2014
World Rights
240 Pages
ISBN 9781442647572
Published Sep 2014
Online discount: 25%
 $70.00    $52.50
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442668591
Published Sep 2014
Online discount: 24%
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Though neither king nor priest, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco nevertheless conceptualized his right to sovereignty around a political theology in which national identity resembled a sacred cult. Using Franco’s Spain and la España sagrada as a counterpoint to European secularity’s own development, By the Grace of God is the first sustained analysis within Spanish cultural studies of the sacred as a political category and a tool for political organization.

William Viestenz shows how imagining national identity as a sacred absolute within a pluralistic, multicultural state leads to dictatorship, scapegoating, and exceptional violence. Using novels and poetry from the Catalan literary tradition and stalwarts of the Castilian canon, his analysis demonstrates that the sacred is a concept that spills over into key areas of secular political imagination.

By the Grace of God offers an original theory of the sacred that challenges our understanding of twentieth-century political thought.

William Viestenz is an assistant professor of Spanish and Global Studies at the University of Minnesota.


1. Introduction: La España Sagrada as a Political Category

Francoist Spain, Post-Secularism, and a Sacred Politics

The Sacred’s Slippage into the Profane

The Sacred and Metaphysics

Spain’s ‘Time of the Sacred’: Literature as a Political Matter

Iberian Studies: A Parallax View

2. ‘He aquí una plenitud española’: Catholicism, Cultural Regeneration, and Spanish Essentialism

Por Dios hacia el imperio: Spanish First Causes

Nineteenth-Century Spain: Cuando la legalidad no basta

Spanish Regenerationism: Displacing the Sacred onto the Secular

Catholicism as a Social Force: 1936

3. Politics by Other Means: The Sacred Core of Collective Imagining

Post-War Stimmung

The Scapegoat Mechanism and the Mimetic Reduction of Difference

Beyond the Victimary Principle

4. Intimate Strife: Inside Juan Goytisolo’s Sovereign Exception

Against Sacred Forms

Conde Julián’s Inclusive Exclusion

Human, All Too Human

A New Nomos of the Earth?

5. The Eternal Present of Sacred Time

‘In illo tempore’

Numa’s Sacred Wood

Killing Time: Ritual Death and the Origins of the Sacred

6. ‘Desacralization’ and ‘Sacrogenesis’, or How to Step Outside of Sacred Time

Sacred Dialectics

Le regard d’autrui: The State’s Loving Embrace

Rerouting Sacred Time: Tiempo de destrucción

7. Espriu’s Sepharad and the Equitable Restoration of Sacred Sovereignty

Sacrifice and the Poetic Expulsion of Self

The Sacred Bonds of Kinship

Death by Way of the Pen: Les hores

Espriu’s kehre: El caminant i el mur&

Final del laberint: Redeeming a Lost Religiousness

Rethinking Iberia: A New Temple of Sacred Communion

8. Conclusion: The Aesthetic Disruption of Political Truth

Works Cited


dquo;By the Grace of God offers a compelling series of close readings and analyses of literary texts in Castilian and Catalan by five canonical poets and novelists from Spain and Catalonia. The analyses are thorough and original and they shed welcome new light on authors who have been studied widely and on others who are much less read but who should be studied more.”

Sebastiaan Faber, Department of Hispanic Studies, Oberlin College

By the Grace of God will fuel many discussions in Spanish literary circles with its first-of-the-kind approach. An innovative piece of scholarship, this is a very important contribution to the study of Iberian politics and the perception of literature during Franco’s dictatorship.”

Enric Bou, Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia