Carmen Conde: when in the RAE there was no ladies' room | Culture

Carmen Conde: when in the RAE there was no ladies' room | Culture

"How awful! Well, they'll have to make one, "he exclaimed. Carmen Conde Abellán to EL PAÍS when the journalist Rosa María Pereda told her that there was no ladies' room in the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE). Neither did either know very well what was the label required in the income of men -frac, to read the speech-, in the case of women. "I'll have to consult with the dressmakers," said the writer.

But the truth is that although those minutiae could be arranged in a matter of seconds by a group of masons and some designers with pleasure, there was no comparison with the feat that she achieved as the first woman to enter the institution that she was presiding over your defender, Dámaso Alonso: "Times have changed and the Academy itself has noticed. We are no longer in the days when Doña Concepción Arenal said that women could only be estanquera, reina or puta. Now we can also be academic, thank God. "

Carmen Conde's (Cartagena, 1907-Madrid, 1996) was a battle won with stripes that January 28, 1979, 40 years ago. Previously there had been many casualties in the assault. Too many … The first ones that still blush today are those of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and Emilia Pardo Bazán, the latter fell on three occasions: 1889, 1892 and 1912. But the closest one walks in the memory prior to the entry of Count, is the of the lexicographer María Moliner. They ran the principles of the seventies and the creator of the reference dictionary with his name, aware of the value of words and expressions, to learn of the intrigues that were moving against him saw fit to jump to the conspirators: "Iros to take in the ass. " As one of the most opposed was Camilo José Cela, sure he understood it the first time.

11 women among 483 members

When Carmen Conde first entered the Royal Spanish Academy accompanied by Gonzalo Torrente Ballester and Manuel Terán to read her entry speech began a still poor path of women in the institution. The writer replaced in the chair K to Miguel Mihura and in his first speech entitled Poetry before time and immortality, He said: "Your noble decision puts an end to one as unjust as ancient literary discrimination."

They had supported her for her candidacy Antonio Buero Vallejo, Guillermo Díaz-Plaja and the lawyer Alfonso García Valdecasas, but she also had the clear drive of Dámaso Alonso, then director. An endorsement that was effective at the time of winning in the vote to two other women: the writer Rosa Chacel and the doctor Carmen Guirado. After Conde, only 10 more academics have followed their path. Very few and just a drop of water in the history of the RAE. Since it was founded in 1713, its chairs have been occupied by 483 members, of whom barely a dozen have been women.

After Conde in 1979, Elena Quiroga, in 1984 and Ana María Matute, in 1998 they entered after her in the 20th century. The average increased recently in the XXI with the historian Carmen Iglesias, the scientist Margarita Salas and the writer Soledad Puértolas, but it has accelerated a little more in the last decade, with the incorporation of the philologist Inés Fernández-Ordóñez -the youngest of the full-the writer Carme Riera, the professor of literature Aurora Egido, current secretary, the poet Clara Janés and the lexicographer Paz Battaner.

Gone were also the unsuccessful candidacies of, among others, Blanca de los Ríos, Concha Espina or Rosa Chacel and Carmen Guirado, who met in a vote to the Conde herself and did not have any more opportunities to run. Once inside, Carmen Conde made her intentions clear and marked a debate that continues today in the front line: "I do not intend to go to the first meeting with that dictionary volume, especially macho. But everything will walk. The machismo evident in the Spanish language is a sad consequence of the history that Spanish women drag. "

Feminism was something that defined the biography of Carmen Conde until her death in 1996. A trait that exacerbated on the other hand who became her husband: the poet Antonio Oliver Belmás. Both were from Cartagena and met in 1927, when the generation of their contemporaries boomed between tradition and the avant-garde, seeking meaning to the new Spanish poetry of the twentieth century. She was assigned to Count, who became friends with many of them and lease with Vicente Aleixandre, his landlord on Velintonia Street. Although his recognized teacher, like so many others, was Juan Ramón Jiménez.

But in his generational ties, Conde alternated and established complicities with the women of break and rip that marked the trend of modernity before the war. Intimate friends were the Argentine Berta Singerman, Concha Méndez, Maruja Mallo – "I do not know that you're going with her," her boyfriend wrote in the heat of jealousy by letter-, Ernestina de Champourcin or Gabriela Mistral and Norah Borges.

He frequented the always exciting circle near the Free Institution of Education and the Student Residence, along with those who also Count and Oliver embarked on pedagogical missions. An attitude that defines her character and her multiple vocations, because apart from poet, essayist, novelist and author of children's literature, Carmen Conde felt profoundly a teacher. "It's something that I think is worth highlighting in his biography," he says. Carme Riera, belonging to the RAE. "I was not a self-absorbed poet, but committed to reality and very active."

What feels Riera is that his work has been somewhat forgotten after the fact that everyone remembers his career. Being the first woman to enter the Academy eclipses almost everything else. But it's never too late to recover his poetic and narrative legacy with nearly a hundred titles. A work that influenced the oppression suffered by women and that she contributed to break up after having denounced her state in poems such as Domain: "Oh, my soft and subdued soul, / sweet beast enclosing itself in my body! / Rays, screams, helor, and even people / urging her to leave. And she, dark. "


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