Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Larson


This dissertation analyzes the prose works of the “Nova Novorum,” a fiction series created and published by José Ortega y Gasset between 1926 and 1929. This collection included six works by four authors, five of which will be discussed in this dissertation. Pedro Salinas’ Víspera del gozo (1926) inaugurated the series. Benjamín Jarnés published two works: El profesor inútil (1926) and Paula y Paulita (1929). Antonio Espina is also responsible for two works: Pájaro pinto (1927) and Luna de copas (1929).

The dissertation is divided into five sections. The first chapter introduces the topic of avant-garde prose during the 1920s in Spain, and the concept of ekphrasis as a methodological approach. Prose authors of the avant-garde were prolific during the first third of the twentieth century in Spain. They produced a new aesthetic sensibility with their experimental narrations. All of the works analyzed are examined through the lens of ekphrasis, which is the verbal representation of visual representation. Chapter Two discusses three relational aspects of ekphrasis: word and image, time and space, and the hermeneutics of ekphrasis. The first section examines the difference between narration and description. The second explores the relationship between time and space and the implications of the fact that a visual object is normally associated with space, while a verbal representation is associated with time. This section examines how authors incorporate spatial techniques into their narrations in ways that are commonly employed by painters. The third section of Chapter Two examines iconology and the hermeneutics of ekphrasis and how the authors use the trope of mimesis not to imitate nature but rather to distort reality. Chapters Three, Four and Five closely examine the images described by each author.

This study draws on understanding of ekphrasis from literary studies and art history as well as theories of the literary avant-garde that stems both from Europe and from Spain in particular. Ortega y Gasset’s ideas about the novel and the avant-garde informed the basic assumptions of the authors of the “Nova Novorum,” who often used ekphrasis as a means of avoiding narrative progress. In many cases of ekphrasis found in the “Nova Novorum” collection, the representations of art are deployed in the same way in which the authors utilize metaphor, as a means of digressing from the narrative. These ekphrastic moments allow each author to withdraw from or slow down the narration, providing the author with the opportunity to focus on the use of language itself.