The Elusive Subject: Biographies of Exiles

In this talk, Soledad Fox Maura explores some of the satisfactions and frustrations of writing biographies of displaced people. She focuses on biographical subjects that are caught between cultures due to situations of political and/or personal exile. The liminal, binational spaces they inhabited in life are reflected by the scattered, and often scant, legacies and archival materials they leave behind. In her view, this makes the reconstruction of their lives particularly important - as they may have no designated space within a national discourse, or conflicting images in different cultures and languages.

Soledad Fox Maura is the V-Nee Yeh ‘81 Professor at Williams College. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. She has written two biographies that have been published in English, Spanish, and French. The first one is about Constancia de la Mora, aka one of the Spanish “Mitford Sisters” who rebelled against her wealthy and conservative upbringing to become a one-woman anti-Fascist force during the Spanish Civil War; and the second about Jorge Semprún, who fought in the French Resistance, survived Buchenwald, and went on to become a serial autobiographer, auto-fiction writer, and Oscar nominee for two screenplays. At the moment she is preparing editions of memoirs written by two Spanish women in exile, and working on a collection of biographical essays about American collectors, soldiers, writers, artists, and impresarios, and politicians in 20th century Spain.