Santiago Posteguillo: "The authors of historical novel warn of what is coming" | Culture
"That with determination, everything is possible, and that they can be much smarter than men ... without that being detrimental to their feminine condition". These are the teachings that today's women can learn from Julia Domna (170-217), the most important Empress in Rome, who convinced her husband to take up arms to finish off his political rivals and reach the throne. This is what Santiago Posteguillo, the great writer of the roman novel in Castilian, believes that has made her the absolute protagonist of Yo, Julia, the novel with which on Monday won the 67th Planet Award (and its 601.00 euros).
The truth is that, in addition to being intelligent and fond of philosophy, Julia was, according to statues and engravings of the time, "of great beauty". A weapon that also used, a common resource of women with power in the classical world, in a strategy in which Cleopatra excelled. "Julia brought together culture, intelligence and the use of that beauty; The truth is that the passion he felt for her husband, Septimius Severus, made him have the emperor in his hand and become a flank, a way to attack him, "says the author of the voluminous trilogy about Scipio the African, with the one that in 2006 debuted, and Trajano. Today, she does not know if Julia will be too, "but give for what you want," she admits.
That Julia "went from big game: it would end up forming what would be the last great imperial dynasty". After her military anarchy would come. The family, at the gates of convulsive times, as a refuge then and maybe also now. "The family should always be", says the writer. Was Julia a good mother? "For everything he did, it may seem what it should not be; in any case, we do not know or anyone asks if Cesar or Napoleon were good parents ... She? Among other things, she was declared the mother of the legions at the request of those same legions. " Apparently she accompanied her husband in almost all military campaigns, even though he did not like it: "If he stayed in Rome, he knew that he would end up being a potential hostage of the Praetorian guard or anyone who wanted to blackmail his husband; a new demonstration that he was smarter than him. "
The dynasty that ended up forming was like a last frontier before the inexorable collapse of the empire, that could have a simile with the situation of the current Europe. "This comparison is made, but the Roman Empire lasted a thousand years and with the extension of the Byzantine, 2,500 years. How long is the European Union? Only decades. We admire its durability from Rome; and that is what we have to learn from that administrative unit, which sometimes reorganized itself, yes, but that, with good or bad ruler, even in times of convulsion, it maintained that joint administration of such diverse entities; the European Union will be strong and its values will survive as long as we know how to continue together. "
Cree Posteguillo (Valencia, 1967) that the current moment would have its equivalent, in the history of the Roman Empire, in "a period of change of dynasty, of which Rome came out in some cases with intelligence, as with Nerva Trajan, who led the limits of the empire to its maximum expression, but too many times with civil wars; let's hope that Europe will succeed now and leaders with the same magnitude will be born to lead people towards calm and union ".
That empire also included North Africa: "For the first time, with Septimius Severus, he was led by a Libyan; but Julia was from Syria, although she was considered at first a dangerous foreigner, in the framework of the Roman fear of the Oriental woman, "says Posteguillo, with his seductive narrative strategy. "The oriental woman did not accept the role of comparsa, of feminine submission, as Cleopatra symbolized; Roman society was sexist, but still free women had rights, such as divorce, abortion or keep their own fortune, which women did not fully enjoy until the late nineteenth.
On the Spanish situation, Posteguillo has already acknowledged that the issue of Catalonia "is not fixed by sending legions", but declines all kinds of comments based on a premise: "When the presidents of the Generalitat and the Government think about my novel, I will do it for your policy; let's see if we get them to read that way; if they did, things would go better. " Despite this response, he feels that writers, especially those of historical novels - a genre that in Spain "comes to replace a not very good tradition of historical disclosure" -, have the possibility of giving answers "to two vital questions for humanity: where we come from and where we are going; of the second are those of science fiction, which for years have been mostly dystopias, while those of the historical novel respond to the first question; we are both trying to warn of what is coming. " And with a point of pessimism, he adds: "The XXI century is the XX accelerated and we already know that it ended in a world war ... Therefore, the worst European Union is the best of all possible worlds".
Yes it has an air in the short distance, but nobody would say that the cease of the novels of Romans in Castilian is university professor in Castellón of Literature of the XIX, moment in which the novel explodes and it becomes the sort of reference. Does it work for your books? "I, for example, am using Tolstoy's technique, crossing several stories, as he does in War and peace" And he stops: "In the mornings I explain the thing and in the afternoon, at home, I try to apply it". At a rate of two and a half years per title, it seems that it is coming out.