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In the case of the books whose plot evolves in foreign countries, exoticism is usually given by both the male protagonist and the traditions of the place. In this paper, popular romance fiction is used as a source to analyse some of the ways in which the Canaries are represented; in particular, we analysed the vision of the island of Tenerife.


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In these books we find many stereotypes related to the image of the islands and the islanders, very much related to the ethnocentric discourse of these British authors. The plot of these novels is not expected to be realistic; popular romance fiction abounds in stereotypes and preconceptions about a particular culture or place but the genre draws our attention to what visitors to the Canaries might feel is genuine and representative, those aspects of the life on the island that differ the most from what the main character, and the reader, will find at home.

Yet, living on the islands has changed dramatically since Red Lotus was published in This book appeared before the tourist boom of the 60s, whereas Bitter Memories was published in and since then tourism has become a key to the economic sector of the islands.


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In this period of nearly forty years, the islanders have had the chance to encounter visitors on a more regular basis and the tourist has even become part of Canarian folklore and a main character of stories and songs. The information about the islands that the English tourist receives now is greater and more trustworthy than previously. Prior to the analysis of the texts, I will summarize the plot of the chosen novels:. After the death of her mother, Felicity Stanmore travels to Tenerife invited by her uncle.

While she learns to understand her Spanish cousins, Felicity must learn to trust Philip Arnold and believe that he had no role in the death of his cousin Maria. However, when she has to go and nurse her stepmother who lives on the island of Tenerife, she meets Doctor Miguel Martina who falls in love in her. During her stay on the island, Trudy has to decide between the two men.

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They both fly to Tenerife where the girl's stepmother, Lucia, lives. In Tenerife, Catherine must control Teresa's bad relationship with her stepmother and the jealousy Lucia feels toward her because of the interest she arouses in Teresa's uncle, Jaime. Tanya travels to Tenerife to visit her sister, who works in a hotel in the south of the island.

There, she is reunited with an old love, Alejandro, whom she believed had abandoned her to marry another woman. During his stay, Alejandro tries to convince Tanya that they have a future together.

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Before analysing the novels, it seems essential to consider, albeit briefly, the representation of Spanishness by the British community. In a socio-historical and cultural approach to the discourses of Spanish national identity, Prieto Arranz [11] examines the image of Spain from the British perspective from the 16th century. For centuries this image has been linked to Catholicism and religious fanaticism, especially since the reign of Mary I. During the reign of Elizabeth I, support for the British government and the Church of England became a synonym of patriotism.

Prieto affirms that the Anglo-centric discourse of British identity, prolific in the 18th century, is based on the concept of freedom and was clearly constructed to oppose to the tyranny of both France and Spain.

Local Administration in the Canary Islands

This national-religious discourse remained in force during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. More recently, the enormous number of historiographical, literary, cinematographic and television works that recreate the Tudor period shows to what extent this historical period is considered determinant in the process of construction of the British identity. Many of these works serve to transmit a Whig version of British history. These contemporary television and film productions contribute to fostering a stereotyped image of Spain and the Spanish as the equivalent of pettiness, intellectual and economic backwardness, religious fanaticism, and material, intellectual and spiritual poverty.

Nowadays, the frequent use of the terms Armada and Inquisition is found in the field of sports but also in the financial press [12].

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It could only be natural to believe that this English image of Spain has changed with the arrival of tourists and residents from that country since the s. Attracted by the warmth, the cost of living and the potential for a leisured lifestyle, and aided by portable pensions and capital gained during the property boom of the s, they were the outcome of a phenomenon which began in s with cheap air travel and mass package tourism [14]. Sociologist Karen O'Reilly has studied the attitudes of Englishmen living in the south of Spain on a permanent basis. The British residents find in Spain the values of community, caring, sharing and responsibility that they used to associate with a historical bygone Britain.

Spain offers them an escape to the past [16]. The long history of British-Spanish relationships has influenced the emergence of different stereotypes. Although social categorising is part of the way we process information about others, we should be aware that over-simplifying this information and identifying certain characteristics as belonging to certain categories of people and events could lead to prejudice, discrimination and racism [18].

Even if popular romance fiction could be described as a kind benevolent genre, there are references to some British stereotypes about Spaniards such as chauvinism and religiosity in these novels. A question that arises in some of these novels is whether the inhabitants of the islands are Canarians or Spaniards. Although these four novels are set in the Canaries, there is no real agreement on whether the inhabitants of the islands feel Canarian or Spanish.

On arrival to the islands, Felicity Stanmore learns that. In Red Lotus the Guanches and their lifestyle are referred to as. You will see the true types among the cave-dwellers in the troglodyte villages, but there has been gradual intermarriage between certain types of Spanish settlers and these people [22].

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In Nurse in Tenerife, the author reflects an old and discarded hypothesis on the origin of the Guanches:. There is a romantic legend that the Canary Islands are the peaks of the lost continent of Atlantis which used to exist between Africa and America […] When the Spaniards discovered these islands, they were inhabited by Guanches, tall, fair people [23]. Canarian historian, biologist and writer Viera y Clavijo and the French naturalist and anthropologist Sabine Berthelot in the18th century as well as distinguished 19th century researchers such as Chil y Naranjo, Bethencourt Alfonso and Grau-Bassas all contributed to consolidating the positive image of the Guanche.

According to Viera y Clavijo, the Guanches were the descendants of the ancient Atlanteans. Thus, with this noble lineage in mind, Viera could include them in the history of the new Christian and European society that began to emerge after the conquest:. Culturally disbanded after the conquest, the natives began to take an imaginary existence in the historiography of the islands, in the accounts of travellers and the more systematic works of anthropologists and prehistorians.

The common thread in all these accounts is a positive and archetypal image of the Guanche, which includes from the nobility of their character and the spontaneity of their customs to the innate strength of their race [25]. The notion that the Guanches were tall with fair wavy hair dates back to the 19th century. He made some comparisons between the epics of the Guanches and the Germans and launched the bold and sensational theory that the natives of the Canary Islands were of German origin [26].

As late as , German physical anthropologist Schwidetzky stated that the Canary Islands have been considered as a refuge for European races [28]. There is no agreement among the authors of these romance fiction books as to whether the Canarians are Spaniards or not.

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Consequently, they blend cultural elements of mainland Spain that are not common on the islands with powerful symbols of Canarian culture. On the other hand, the image of the noble savage, the Guanche, is very appealing as a means of differentiating the islands from the rest of the mainland. The presence of the Guanche, or at least the Guanche blood, reinforces the myth of paradise and the Garden of Eden. Isolated in the Atlantic Ocean near Africa, the lush Canary Islands are inhabited by humble, kind and pleasant people who descend from a noble race.

Culture is a complex term. For G. Literally it means tilling the soil: cultivation. Metaphorically the word is used for the training or refining of the mind: civilization. However, in the past decades a broader metaphorical meaning has become popular, derived from anthropology: collective ways of acting, thinking, and feeling. All human activity is educated, our behaviours are endowed with meaning and ideas about what is right and what is not, what is reasonable and nonsensical.

Culture is a means by which we perceive and value the human social relationships, and to a large extent it can be considered as a series of symbols that include acts, behaviours, objects we give meaning to and through which we communicate [31]. For the analysis of the cross-cultural encounters between the British protagonist and the Canarian characters in the texts offered below, Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory will be used.

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Hofstede stated that differences between cultures may be investigated from the perspective of four manifestations of culture: symbols, heroes, rituals, and values [32]. These symbols, such as slang expressions, dress code, status symbols, and hairstyles can be changed, imitated, and replaced with others.

The most readily discernible symbols are the easiest and the most common way to include some cultural aspects from the target country in these texts. Our customs, institutions and beliefs are interrelated, forming a symbolic system, because each symbol makes sense only in relation to the rest of the other symbols.

It is an open symbolic system, built over the centuries, creating and articulating a set of diverse traditions, providing them with a proper sense, recreating them through our history [35]. The dialectal Spanish from the islands, the traditional Canarian house, the typical costumes, the figure of the traditional peasant, Canarian songs and dances, the various religious pilgrimages to the churches of the patron saints of the different islands, El Teide volcanic mountain, the typical food and trees such as the juniper, the palm tree, the sacred tree Garoé and the dragon tree are the main symbols mentioned in these novels, mostly in a superficial way, with no real importance in the plot.

However, they are only brief allusions that contribute to create the setting of the novels and provide local atmosphere. Belonging to the so-called Atlantic or Southern Spanish, this language variety has many features in common with the Western Andalusian dialect and the Spanish spoken in Latin America. Their analogies, especially at both phonetic and grammatical levels, are explained by factors such as the geographical origin of the first settlers on the islands, and to the close relationship established between the Canary Islands and America, especially Venezuela and Cuba, through migration [41].