The ties between the Canary Islands and the United Kingdom are perpetuated in British romantic novels

María Isabel González Cruz, with her two new books, on Las Canteras beach. / COBER

The professor from Gran Canaria María Isabel González Cruz publishes two volumes that analyze these novels from the mid-20th century

Victoriano Suarez Alamo

Today's luxurious and financial district of London, Canary Wharf, the former destination for a large part of the island's agricultural exports to British lands, is one of the vestiges in English-speaking lands of the existing ties between the Canary Islands and the United Kingdom. In the archipelago, beyond the British colony settled for years, memories remain such as the old English hospital in Ciudad Alta and the Anglican church in Ciudad Jardín. But those ties, very strong
from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th, they also transcended the literary sphereespecially in romance novels, a best-selling genre in the English language.

This is attested to by the two volumes published this year
Maria Isabel Gonzalez Cruz Professor of English Philology and professor at the Faculty of Philology at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Is about
'Discourses and identities in romantic fiction. Anglophone visions of Madeira and Canarias'a collective work coordinated by María Isabel González Cruz, published in bilingual version by Delaware: Vernon Press, and by
'Hispanicisms in Romance Fiction. An Annotated Glossary' (edited by The Edwin Mellen Press), written alone by this Gran Canarian philologist.

The two publications have as their starting point the research project that González Cruz has developed between 2015 and 2018, financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of the Government of Spain, entitled
'Discourses, gender and identity in a corpus of English romance novels set in the Canary Islands and other Atlantic islands'.

"It was quite a discovery," acknowledges the professor and teacher from the island. «My thesis was on Anglo-Canarian coexistence, sociocultural and linguistic contact in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. From there I began to study English bibliography of all kinds and I published the book 'Notes for an English bibliography', with the Instituto de Estudios Canarios. I located about 300 titles, ethnographic, tourist guides and also fiction. In principle about three or four. Until Laura Vivancos, a specialist in the field, told me why it hadn't occurred to me to investigate British romantic novels that are set in the Canary Islands.
We found about forty-something. The oldest is from 1955 and the most modern is from 2004»explains the author.

trade and tourism

The commercial relations in the oldest ones and especially the tourist development of the islands are the two main reasons why the British authors of this very popular genre opted to place their fictions in the Canary archipelago, according to María Isabel González.

In some cases, they are writers who came on vacation and once here were inspired and wrote their novels.. It is significant that many of them are not simple love stories. The novels talk about the culture of the islands, the contrast, especially in the 50s, 60s and 70s, with respect to them. They reflect that intercultural 'shock'. They do it from an Anglocentric point of view, from which everything seems very strange to them », he explains.

One of the most widespread starting points for these fictions is that it was about
"an English woman who came to the Canary Islands for work or because she had relatives and wanted to spend a few days here". In her fate, she falls in love with a canary, a peninsular or a Briton who has settled on the islands for years, says the author of the two books. From there, in her stories, references to the island's pre-Hispanic culture emerge, including legends such as those of the dragon tree, to more critical issues, points out González Cruz. «In some you can see that they defend environmental awareness, they criticize how we destroy the landscape.
It must be taken into account that this is an interdisciplinary 'corpus', where they see the reality of the islands from the British prism”, he reiterates.

María Isabel González Cruz acknowledges that in the older novels there are "many errors" about history and details of the islands, as well as a great variety in the quality of the writers.
"There are some very good and some very bad"points out.

Canarianisms and references to Teneguía or César Manrique

In the British romantic novels analyzed by María Isabel González Cruz and her team, they have come across references to historical events such as the eruption of the Teneguía volcano in La Palma, the Los Rodeos plane crash and real figures such as the Lanzarote artist César Manrique.

It also highlights the presence of Hispanisms and Canarianisms in the narratives. «To top it off, from a linguistic point of view, I was surprised to see that they introduced Canarian and Spanish words into their songs. This is where my book on Hispanicisms, 'Hispanicisms in Romance Fiction. An Annotated Glossary'. There are words, such as gofio, that do not have a translation and it is logical that they use it. But in other cases they could use English words and opt for Spanish or Canarian words. I interpret it as the fruit of a positive attitude, integration and approach to the islands. In most of the books that we have analyzed we detect a great affection towards the islands », he points out about a volume in which he analyzes 36 novels.

The book 'Discourses and identities in romantic fiction. Anglophone visions of Madeira and the Canary Islands' has the following analyses: 'The pink or romantic novel; past, present and future', by Inmaculada Pérez Casal; 'Imperfect Paradises: Madeira in the novels of Margaret Rome, Katrina Britt and Sally Wentworth, by María del Mar Pérez-Gil; 'Sociocultural and linguistic landscape of the island of Madeira: Anglocentric visions in a sample of six pink novels', by Aline Bazenga; 'Canarian culture and identity and its representation in the novels of the FFI2014-53962-P corpus', by María Jesús Vera-Cazorla; 'Female voices and feminist discourse in some Harlequin/Mills&Boon novels, by María del Pilar González-de la Rosa; 'Transatlantic definitions of the white race in Louise Bergstrom's gothic novels in the Canary Islands (1971-1972)', by María T. Ramos-García; 'Linguistic ideologies, landscape and narrative voice in The Wind off the Small Isles', by Susana de los Heros; and 'Interdisciplinarity in romantic fiction', by María Isabel González Cruz, who is also responsible for the introduction. The volume is completed with a pedagogical part that includes practical exercises.