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Galdós: The Mature Thought

Brian J. Dendle
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The sheer volume of prolific Spanish novelist and playwright Benito Pérez Galdós's literary production has rendered overall assessment of his body of work all but impossible. The later volumes in his ambitious and popularEpisodios nacionalesseries, in particular, have suffered from scholarly indifference.

    In this acclaimed study, Brian J. Dendle closely considers the twenty-six novels in this series written between 1898 and 1912. Theseepisodios, Dendle contests, are artistically superior to the earlier volumes and offer a unique opportunity to establish the ideological profile of the mature Galdós.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6277-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    Despite the marked increase in interest in Galdós’s novels over the last fifteen years, the study of his works nevertheless remains in its infancy. Basic research materials are scattered or unavailable. The preparation of a scholarly edition of the complete literary works of Galdós is still to be undertaken; important textual variants are revealed by chance discoveries; the listing of editions of Galdós’s works has tempted no bibliographer; significant biographical information (for example, details of Galdós’s relations with women) is only now being brought to light, and this piecemeal. Many of Galdós’s journalistic articles, such as his political commentaries in...

  5. Chapter One The Historical Background, 1868-1900
    (pp. 6-32)

    In early 1898 Benito Perez Galdós (1843-1920) resumed composition of theepisodios nacionales,a task that he had abandoned, supposedly forever, some twenty years previously. Galdós was, of course, still concerned with popularizing in theepisodiosselected aspects of Spanish history; he also, however, in theepisodioswritten in 1898 and subsequent years, used the past as example to comment on the problems of his own day and to afford his contemporaries instruction in which national modes of conduct are best avoided. Galdós returned to theepisodios nacionalesat a time of national crisis: the long-expected war with the United...

  6. Chapter Two The Third Series of Episodios Nacionales, 1898-1900
    (pp. 33-78)

    In December 1879, in the concluding paragraph ofUn faccioso más y unos frailes menos,Galdós announced his abandonment of the “género histórico.” While the tedium of composing some three historical novels a year must surely have played no small part in his decision, Galóds cited as reason for his renunciation the lack of historical perspective, the closeness of the years following 1834 to his own day: “Los años que siguen al 34 estám demasiado cerca, nos tocan, nos codean, se familiarizan con nosotros. Los hombres de ellos casi se confunden con nuestros hombres. Son años a quienes nose puede...

  7. Chapter Three The Fourth Series of Episodios Nacionales, 1902-1907
    (pp. 79-144)

    Galdós completedBodas realesin October 1900. It was not until a year and a half later, in March 1902, that Galdós began composition of a fourth series ofepisodios,treating Spanish history between 1848 and the September Revolution of 1868. The newepisodiosreveal a slackening of Galdós’s interest: the novelistic intrigues are less complex and well knit; the teaching repeats in large measure that of the third series; the novels were written at a much slower pace, the final novel of the series being completed only in May 1907. Save for the last two novels of the series...

  8. Chapter Four The Fifth Series of Episodios Nacionales, 1907-1912
    (pp. 145-181)

    Antonio Maura, originally a dissident from Sagasta’s Liberals and now unchallenged leader of the Conservative party, headed the Spanish government in January 1907. The reforms he promised were ambitious: the destruction ofcaciquismo(by the fundamental overhaul of local government), the reconstruction of the Spanish navy, and the resolution of the Catalan problem.

    Maura had only partial success in carrying out his program. The ambitious project for the reform of municipal administration, introduced in the Cortes in October 1907, failed to become law. Not only did it affect the interests ofcaciquesbut it also, with its provisions for corporative...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 182-186)

    Galdós’s message in the third, fourth, and fifth series ofepisodios nacionaleshas already been summarized. The following remarks address certain biases in Galdós’s approach to the past, not the content of his teaching.

    In part, Galdós uses theepisodiosto comment directly on the concerns of his own day. The mark of 1898 is apparent in his warnings against fraternal strife, his disgust with rhetoric,¹ and his hostility to Spanish involvement in foreign adventures. He for a while flirts with Costa’s authoritarian solutions to Spain’s problems. By early 1900, however, he openly satirizes the fatuous arrogance of self-appointed regenerators....

  10. Notes
    (pp. 187-200)
  11. Galdós’s Characters
    (pp. 201-203)
  12. Index
    (pp. 204-207)