Salvador de Madariaga's La jirafa sagrada (The Sacred Giraffe) Essay

Salvador de Madariaga's La jirafa sagrada (The Sacred Giraffe) Essay

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Salvador de Madariaga's La jirafa sagrada (The Sacred Giraffe)


Amidst the fight for women’s suffrage in Spain, Salvador de Madariaga wrote The sacred giraffe, being the second volume of the posthumous works of Julio. In 1925, the time the book was published, women in the United States and much of Europe had secured the right to vote while those in Spain still remained in the fight. Madariaga an active politician as well as a writer sets up his novel as a world turned upside down. The humorous account of a make believe world where women have switched places with men depict the seemingly backwards society as a relative utopia based on peoples attitudes, rather than its social structure.

The sacred giraffe starts out with a science conference contrasting the people in a mythical land known as Europe to their particular society, the Ebonites. In this land, males were thought to have dominated the public life of the fabled White Race; a humorous concept to the black women, the leaders of Ebonite society. Not only are the gender roles and skin tones different but the strange Race of 5000 years ago, were thought to be cannibalistic because "the Whites stored the remains of their dead instead of burning them"(3).

The land of Ebony is a portrayed such that black is white, male is female, up is down, in this twilight-zone style country. The story plays out as a peek through a small window of time and space into the Ebonite society, centered around the doctoress Zama and her family as Zama tries to convince people that Europe did exist while her husband M’Zama, tries to fix up his brother with an eligible young women named Scruta. All the while the reader is given a tour of Ebony, exploring the major sites of the religious hive, ...


... middle of paper ...


... is a long time and you don’t remember, but in those days no rain ever fell on the sea, nor on lakes, nor on rivers and brooks…Fish had no bones, so that children could eat them without making their parents choke, and oysters could be opened as if by persuasion"(189).

The overall message of Madariaga is that it is the characteristics of each individual that form a functional society. It is neither the gender nor the color nor the exact workings of the government that allow the formation of a Utopia. Even from a seemingly ridiculous culture it is the moral thread that binds the people. The work may have been designed to influence the political swing of Spain, but its instruction holds true in all of humankind.

Works Cited

Madariaga, Salvador de. The sacred giraffe, being the second volume of the posthumous works of Julio. London: Martin Hopkinson & Co., 1925

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