Going Native: Isaac Muñoz's Tales of the Maghreb

Richard A Cardwell (Nottingham University, UK)

Isaac Muñoz (1881-1925), the eldest son of a noble military family, broke the rules of his class and scandalized his parents by rejecting a professional career in favour of the bohemian life of a writer. A short visit to Morocco turned into a lifetime's affair with the Other of the Orient. He learned Arabic, assumed Arab dress and travelled widely in the Maghreb. In taking the Mahgreb as his theme he follows the path of that legion of writers who, as Edward Said has explained, establish the Orient as a discourse. In so doing Muñoz, like many others in Europe, is confined in the web of the limitations of thought imposed by Orientalism. He speaks for the Orient, he configures it, he represents it in the terms of the literary mindset in which he moved and as a white male.

At the same time, from 1911 onwards, he wrote a series of articles in a major newspaper which commented on the process of political and commercial colonialisation of Morocco. In these columns we discover Muñoz filtering the realities of colonial expansion into the Spanish consciousness employing discourses quite unlike, even opposed to, those of Orientalism. The paper will examine the conflict between these two imaginaries and what they reveal of attitudes, literary and political, in the Spain of the period 1905-1925.

Postcolonial OV discourseov Casablanca Conference

Last modified: 7 May 2001