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Automobility and the politics of development under Miguel Primo de Rivera: a historicized reading of Antonio Espina’s Luna de copas

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This article explores the sociopolitical significance of automobility during the Miguel Primo de Rivera dictatorship as a means to historicize Antonio Espina’s novel Luna de copas. Devoting special attention to the class antagonisms brought about by Primo de Rivera’s economic policy and vision for Spain, the article shows that Espina engages this historical context by fictionalizing the growth of motorized tourism and industrial development in the country. The novel’s depiction of automobility advances a critique of the capitalist elites who achieved social and political prominence under Primo de Rivera but whose participation in modernization efforts was self-serving and not meant to bring about effective change for most Spaniards. Drawing on sociological theory and archival material, this article contends that Luna de copas recognized how automobiles afforded their owners a modern instrument of social distinction, dehumanization, subjugation and deterritorialization, thereby strengthening oligarchical structures at the height of the Machine Age. Historicization of Espina’s novel suggests that scholarship has overly exaggerated the autonomous nature of avant-garde fiction.
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Keywords: Automobiles; Spain; avant-garde novel; industrialization; social distinction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of World Languages and Cultures, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, USA

Publication date: July 2, 2020

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