'La Infanta Ofelia'

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The short story collection ‘Viajeros Perdidos’ comprises twelve works by pre-eminent Spanish writers which explore in different ways the theme of travel and associated ideas of loss and alienation. ‘Lost travellers’, as the title literally translates, people these stories, and one writer who takes a very unique approach to the subject is Paloma Díaz-Mas. In her story, ‘La infanta Ofelia’, she successfully blends the traditions of Spanish Moorish ballads with the stories of Shakespeare in an exploration of the psychological, rather than physical, escape and alienation of its protagonist, symbolically named Ofelia. With its brevity lending the language a poetic feel, the story is deliberately resonant of the ballads which inspired it, and as a piece of writing it has the humorous, ironical insight of an epigram, given its witty ending. It is an adventurous piece, using intertextualisation to recreate a traditional literary ambience and in this way to effect parody and make a comment about romanticism and love. Immediately, from the first sentence, the two sources of literary inspiration are juxtaposed by the writer. ‘La infanta mora’ is our protagonist – ‘mora’ being the adjective ‘Moorish’, descriptive of the period of Iberian Moorish occupation. Its use as an adjective in this way has a specific meaning; this is a Moorish princess, of Arab descent. The expression, however, also has a rather archaic but more idiomatic meaning. "¡Mi Reina Mora!" is an old-fashioned expression of affection from a mother to her children or from a grandparent to a grandchild, which is derived from the original regal meaning. We are made aware, therefore, both of the nobility of our protagonist and of her vulnerability, given the echo of this expression of maternal affection. As the sentence moves on, a Shakespearean allusion is drawn out, with the princess ‘flotando en un aljibe’,
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