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Galdos and the Art of the European Novel

Galdos and the Art of the European Novel: 1867-1887

Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 414
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  • Book Info
    Galdos and the Art of the European Novel
    Book Description:

    Benito Perez Galdos (1843-1920) was one of Spain's outstanding novelists and the author of two vast cycles of novels and a number of plays. In this critical study of Galdos in English, Stephen Gilman relates the writer and his work to the nineteenth century novel as a genre and traces his artistic growth during a twenty-year period, from his initial historical fable, La Fontana de Oro, to his masterpiece, Fortunata y Jacinta.

    Originally published in 1981.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5521-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)

    • CHAPTER I Galdós: “Life and Times”
      (pp. 3-28)

      In the “Preámbulo” to his first novel,La Fontaria de Oro, Galdós comments: “Long after this book was written (since only its last pages are posterior to the September revolution) it has seemed to me to have a certain relevance to the period we are now experiencing. Probably this is the result of a relationship that may be detected between many events referred to therein and what is now going on, a relationship that undoubtedly corresponds to the similarity of the present crisis to that of the memorable years from 1820 to 1823.”¹ (10) In so saying, the novelist defines...

    • CHAPTER II La Fontana de Oro
      (pp. 29-48)

      It is written, or rather it used to be, that Fernán Caballero was the pathfinder of the nineteenth-century novel in Spain, and in one important sense that oft-exploded commonplace of literary history is correct. As the late José F. Montesinos and a number of others have demonstrated, novels and novelists certainly were not lacking prior to the survey-course date of 1849. But the novels worth remembering (as my teacher, F. Courtney Tarr, used to insist in his classes), the imitations of Scott attempted by Espronceda, Larra, Enrique Gil, and other estimable Romantic writers, had been written in solitude or in...

    • CHAPTER III From Trafalgar to Doña Perfecta
      (pp. 49-83)

      Confronted with the pre-Socratic dilemma posed byLa Fontana de Oro, Galdós moved forward boldly in two opposed but complementary directions. After a second novel (El audaz, 1871) conceived of as a newspaper history of revolutionary fanaticism (another political fable for his time),¹ he began in 1873 the first series of “episodios nacionales” withTrafalgar. Only three years later, he launched his “novelas españolas contemporáneas” withDoña Perfecta. The advantages and indeed the necessity of this double undertaking should be evident to perceptive readers ofLa FontanaandEl audaz. In the “episodios” Galdós could follow the inevitable course of...

    • CHAPTER IV La desheredada
      (pp. 84-130)

      The bifurcation of narrative paths, one leading to the “episodios” and the other toDoña Perfectaand the “novelas contemporáneas,” which immediately followed it, was not a solution to the problem of the incompatibility of movement and meaning, which had handicappedLa Fontana de Oro. Rather in one sense it was an expression of helpless acquiescence. Galdós’ creative mastery of both the enigmatic time of history and the stark timelessness of provincial society is itself an illustration of the gravity of the problem. The dilemma was, in fact, so apparently insuperable thatLa desheredada’sunforeseen synthesis of representation with biography...


    • CHAPTER V From La desheredada to Lo prohibido
      (pp. 133-153)

      In addition to professors, beloved and unbeloved, four classmates accompany Juanito Santa Cruz in the opening paragraph ofFortunatay Jacinta:Jacinto María Villalonga, Joaquinito Pez, Alejandro Miquis, and Zalamero, whose surname sufficed for an author who was not fond of “flatterers” or teachers’ pets. For Galdós’ reading public they are old acquaintances, reappearing, young representatives of middle-class Madrid, perhaps comparable to the young Parisian dandies encountered by Lucien de Rubempré at the “bal de l’Opera.”¹ And if some members of that public felt hesitant to take the plunge into the ocean of the new, four-volume novel, they might well have...

    • CHAPTER VI A Colloquium of Novelists
      (pp. 154-186)

      The metamorphosis in Galdós’ art of the novel that is predicted in the sincerely rueful closing paragraph ofLo prohibidoand concealed by the deceptively casual opening gambit that we encounter upon first looking intoFortunata y Jacinta(“Las noticias más remotas que tengo ...”) cannot be fully explained either by the proposition that the new heroine was intended to be the antithesis of Isidora or by the broad hint that she was to continue the therapy offered by the example of Camila’s healthy consciousness. Both derivations are true, I believe, but to approach the change only in terms of...

    • CHAPTER VII The Novelist as Reader
      (pp. 187-226)

      The notion just presented of the novel as a form of dialogue is again true but insufficient. As in the case of our previous hypothesis that the prospect ofFortunata y Jacintawas “dialectically” contingent upon Galdós’ critical dissatisfaction, first, withLa desheredadaand, second (and more immediately and acutely), withLo prohibido, the metaphor of corrective inter-novel “dialogue” is also limited to what the critic believes to be at least the semiconscious intention of the novelist. In effect, the gestation of the novel-to-be in terms of its author’s intimate conversation withLa Regenta and Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes,...


    • CHAPTER VIII The Challenge of Historical Time
      (pp. 229-247)

      Since both Marxism and the so-called rise of the novel are manifestations of nineteenth-century historicism, it is natural that Marxist critics should be preoccupied with Sir Walter Scott, Balzac, and their successors. And it is equally natural that Spanish Marxist critics should be preoccupied with the “episodios” and, among the “novelas contemporáneas,” withFortunata y Jacinta.¹ This is all to the good, for their approach poses directly a fundamental problem, which from other points of view is often overlooked: how did novelists in that century transform raw material that is largely social and historical, and therefore by definition transitory, into...

    • CHAPTER IX The Art of Listening
      (pp. 248-290)

      When Dorio de Gádex, the brash and effete young poet inLuces de Bohemia, refers superciliously to Galdós as “don Benito el Garbancero,” the epithet is clearly a critique of his style, which that still-beardless generation found to be irretrievably vulgar: that is, as vulgar in a literary narrative as “garbanzos” (the chick peas that were Torquemada’s favorite vegetable) on a restaurant menu. Twenty-six years before, in 1898, Valle-Inclán had written a glowing review ofAngel Guerra, remarking only at the end that “a producir con menos facilidad, Galdós sería no más novelista, pero sí más literato.”¹ But now, perhaps...

    • CHAPTER X The Art of Genesis
      (pp. 291-319)

      In his 1897 address to the Royal Academy Galdós went out of his way to refute a notion of realism that might well be described today as “socialist”: “el arte se avalora sólo con dar a los seres imaginarios vida más humana que social.”¹ Nevertheless, as we have seen, his public had been nourished by a creative diet of contextuality and, as a result, believed unquestioningly that “to give human life to imaginary beings” required their prior situation in a social and historical milieu. And now they were going to get more than they needed or ever had been given...

    • CHAPTER XI The Art of Consciousness
      (pp. 320-355)

      For passionate readers and rereaders ofFortunata y Jacinta, Fortunata is the woman who, among all women, is the most profoundly known. We know her from within, and we know her at length, from spiritual birth to physical death and believed-in resurrection. We know her in a way we can never know women of flesh and blood—our mothers, our sisters, and our wives. Yet it would not be easy to explain to a reader of, say,Madame Bovarywhat itisthat we know about Fortunata, to explain to him, as he could explain to us about Emma, just...

    • CHAPTER XII Retrospect
      (pp. 356-377)

      During the decade of the 1920s three major critics proposed a revolutionary definition for an upstart genre, which had in the course of the preceeding century captured the citadel of Western literature—the novel. Writing in different languages and, as far as I know, unaware of each other’s existence, all three were initially surprised by the peculiarly “formless” quality of fictional experience. The first of the trio was Georg Lukacs, who, stimulated by Wilhelm Dilthey’sDas Erlebnis und die Dichtung,¹ observed in 1920: “So erscheint der Roman im Gegensatz zu dem in der fertigen Form ruhenden Sein anderer Gattungen, als...

  7. APPENDIX. Classical References in Doña Perfecta
    (pp. 378-394)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 395-413)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 414-414)