Auroras Anlaß [Aurora’s Motive] (Erich Hackl)

Aurora’s Anlaß is the first novel by Erich Hackl. It was translated as Aurora’s Motive and is based on the actual lives of Aurora Rodríguez and her daughter Hildegart Rodríguez.
Finished on: 28.8.2016.

One day, Aurora Rodríguez gets up in the morning, takes a gun and shoots her teenaged daughter Hildegart with whom she has always been close. Then she goes to the police to confess. Aurora brought up Hildegart on her own, and she worked extremely hard to groom her into a feminist, critical thinker and political leader – and Hildegart was a highly gifted girl who showed every promise to fufill her mother’s dream. So what could have possibly led her to do what she did?

With Auroras Anlaß, Hackl combines historical research with literary writing and a dash of journalism, telling a fascinating (true) story in an extremely intriguing way.


Earlier this year I became aware of the documentary Project: Superwoman, which I unfortunately missed so far (I will catch up with that at some point). This documentary is the first time I heard about the case of the Rodríguez women and I was immediately intrigued. A short while later, I heard about Hackl’s book (which is almost 30 years old) and figured, since I had to miss the documentary, I could at least read the book. [It’s interesting though that two Austrians worked so intensely on the story of two Spanish women.]

At the center of the book is Aurora, not Hildegart, as you might think. It starts with her killing Hildegart and then tries to grasp Aurora’s life and her ideas for Hildegart. She is convinced that the oppression of the poor and women is intricately linked and that the world needs a feminist-socialist leader. For a woman to rise to that position, though, she will need to get started early on her path, basically from the point of her birth, or the chance is too high that she will stay entangled too much in the patriarchal structures as they are.

It’s a fasincating set-up, and of course, a deeply problematic one. It doesn’t really surprise that things don’t end that well, although – if the book hadn’t started with the ending – I probably would have thought that it would end badly in quite that way.

Hackl obviously spent a lot of time researching the case, giving a lot of facts and some careful fiction. As somebody who doesn’t know more about the story, it’s not clear where the line between the two is to be drawn, but I don’t think it’s all that important either. It’s a realistic version that I feel gives a good overview over both the general political situation in Spain at the time and the political experiment in the form of the Rodríguez women, but also doesn’t shy away from the personal tragedy underlying all of it.

Summarizing: I really liked reading it, and if you find the story as interesting as I did, you’ll love the book, I’m sure.


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