Anatomía de un instante by Javier Cercas: The novel in its embryonic State

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This is the first in-depth analysis of the taxonomic distinction between two genres that Javier Cercas has conceptualized for the understanding of his work: the relato real and the relato ficticio. Scholarship has often attached the term relato real to novels such as Soldados de Salamina, a generic classification that Cercas vehemently rebuffs. I argue that Cercas's interpretation of the 1981 coup d'état, Anatomía de un instante (2010), conceptually fits the lineaments of a relato real at its outset. As the work progresses, however, the text comes to resemble what Cercas classifies as a relato ficticio, which ultimately unveils the bivalent relationship that the two genres share and challenges the author's diametrical separation of the modes of discourse. Following Cercas's theorization of the two relatos, the putative incongruity between historical and moral truth plays a primary role in the evolution of genre in Anatomía. Cercas's exegesis of el Tejerazo ultimately reveals that the two variations of relato represent separate but complementary epistemologies, which gestures towards a postulate made by Paul Ricoeur that narrative imagination exerts a schematic function in the conceptualization and understanding of historical knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-564
Number of pages18
JournalHispanic Research Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© W. S. Maney & Son Ltd 2014.


  • Adolfo Suárez
  • Javier Cercas
  • Paul Ricoeur
  • Relato real
  • Spanish transition
  • Symbolic art


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