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ArribaAbajo«Un trienio galdosiano»: A Critical Review of Books Published on Galdós, 1977-79208

Peter A. Bly

If in our examination of recent books on Galdós we were to follow the advice unsuccessfully proffered by Sofía Golfín to Teodoro in Marianela: «lee la estadística», we would have to conclude that the figure of twenty-four full -and part- length studies on Galdós in three years is highly impressive and solid proof, along with the ever-increasing number of articles in learned journals, of the insatiable interest in Galdós research. But welcome though such figures may be, the question of the quality and originality of the studies must remain of greater importance for the future health of the discipline. In the following comments, which are humbly meant to be both informative and constructively critical, we should like to propose that the three years in question have seen more than the usual mixture of the excellent, good and not-so-good, with perhaps the overall quality not quite matching the prolific rate of output.

A. Full-length studies


José Pérez Vidal's heavily-detailed Canarias en Galdós (Las Palmas: Excelentísimo Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, 1979), pp. 255, is basically a revision of his 1973 study. The expansions, reorganizations and additions («De Las Palmas a Doña Perfecta y Vergara», «La cultura marinera», «La comprensión de lo americano», «Benito Galdós, un liberal entre la guerra y el exilio») reinforce the central argument that Galdós' Canarian upbringing and heritage is always surfacing in his work, literary or artistic, in a number of ways: in the depiction of certain characters, his use of marine topics or themes, his interest in «lo americano» and above all else in the reproduction of Canarian dialectalisms. It is Vidal's comments on the last category that are the most engaging and, perforce, the most accurate as he unearths more and more examples from the Galdós texts. Otherwise he is reduced to citing large chunks of quotations and hypothesizing on the probable influences of experience, knowledge gained or acquaintances made during Galdós' Las Palmas days.

Of far greater importance is Benito Madariaga's Pérez Galdós. Biografía santanderina (Santander: Institución Cultural de Cantabria, Instituto de Literatura José María de Pereda, 1979), pp. 457, which in eighteen chapters attempts to give a chronological reconstruction of the years (1871-1917) that   —108→   Galdós spent in Santander. Though some well-known facts are unavoidably repeated, Madariaga is to be congratulated on providing quite a lot of new material culled from local newspaper articles and the correspondence of Galdós' friends. However, the exclusive Santander focus, as Madariaga feared, does produce some curious side-effects that take away slightly from the overall impact of the work. First, in spite of the occasional references to the months spent in Madrid or abroad each year, duly listed in a useful appendix, the reader is lulled into downplaying the significance of Galdós' activity outside Santander, Secondly, Galdós friends, especially Estrañi, Pereda and Menéndez y Pelayo, are allowed to take possibly more of the space than they should, for Madariaga is also anxious to bring out the intellectual vitality of this Santander group during the period and to show that, in spite of differences, they always remained respectful friends. Newspaper evidence reproduced would seem to indicate that the same degree of «convivencia» was not enjoyed outside this literary élite by partisans of the opposing ideological tendencies. Thirdly, there is a noticeable uneasiness about how to treat Galdós' literary work when it needs to be discussed at any length. A good case in point is the attention given Marianela. Madariaga correctly notes in Chapter I that this «novela de la primera época» was inspired by visits Galdós made to the two local mines of Mercadal and Reocín. But we have to wait another fourteen chapters until the occasion of another visit, in 1917, to the mines before getting any detailed discussion of the novel and then half-hearted, as if he were unsure of its relevance. Similar qualifications could be applied to his treatment of Gloria, Tristana and El caballero encantado. However, the great merit of the biography is the amount of information it contains about social and political life in Santander at the turn of the century, the construction and final controversial destiny of San Quintín, the local reception of Galdós' literary works, and (in a number of useful appendices) Galdós' unpublished political speeches in the region and some correspondence. Amongst the latter are some letters Galdós regularly sent from Santander to one of his last loves in Madrid, Teodosia Gandarias (the Casa-Museo in Las Palmas are in possession of many more). They are extremely pertinent to a proper understanding of Galdós' intentions in El caballero encantado and some of the later episodios which were composed at the same time. Blemishes, wrong directions, lack of balance there may well be in this partial biography, but all in all it remains a valuable and interesting account of Galdós' time in the city that he came to love as much as Madrid. Francisco Ayala's Galdós en su tiempo (Santander: Cabildo Insular de Las Palmas, 1978), pp. 42, is a brief, but wide-ranging, very readable review of the achievement of Galdós in creating his own reading public from amongst a bourgeois audience more accustomed to other types of novels. Galdós the bourgeois becomes the confessor of a lay society.


William H. Shoemaker has made many invaluable contributions to Galdós scholarship over the years. His latest compilation, La crítica literaria de Galdós   —109→   (Madrid: Insula, 1979), pp. 304, is no exception, although one would have wished that it did not possess some shortcomings. Clearly intended to be used as a ready reference source for all the criticism Galdós ever penned about particular novels, writers, themes, aspects or genres, the work would have benefitted from a tighter control of the wealth of material used. For example, his descriptive introductory chapter could have been given a better, more codified ordering of all the sources used without the accompanying capsules of contents that he later reproduces at greater length. The four remaining major chapters comprise a dense and seemingly unending catalogue of paraphrases and quotations of Galdós' words, arranged with inevitable overlapping under four general headings: «Temas de Galdós: teorías y críticas»; «crítica de autores y obras concretas»; «autocrítica»; «método y estilo de Galdós crítico». The most substantial sections or chapters are the first two, with «Temas de Galdós...» having a most labyrinthine and debatable structure:

1. De la literatura en general. a) Los grandes temas (imitación, imaginación, romanticismo, verosimilitud, inverosimilitud, verdad, realismo, regionalismo, naturalismo, creación, recreación, invención y admiración, el noventayochismo, lo general y lo particular, lo externo y lo interno). b) La literatura y sus consocios (la historia, la época y el carácter nacional, la sociedad (pueblo y público), la verdad, la filosofía, ideas, lo jocoserio, la vida (el lenguaje y el estilo), la literaturización de la vida), otras artes y la belleza, la moralidad). c) Elementos distintivos de la literatura, estilo y lenguaje, cualidades admiradas (traducciones, literaturas extranjeras, teoría de los géneros y algunas modalidades), eclecticismo, arte bucólico, géneros, moldes, fábula, composición de Almanaque, novela y teatro, acaso, simbolismo, sátira).

2. De la poesía.

3. Del drama (los géneros del arte dramático, métodos, procedimientos, técnicas).

4. De la novela (algunas definiciones preliminares y cualidades esenciales, teoría de la novela, novelas por entregas, novelas de varios tipos y épocas, elementos de la novela (variedad-unidad, plan, forma autobiográfica o de primera persona, forma dialogada, personajes, lenguaje)).

5. De otros géneros (cuento, periodismo, crítica literaria, crítica dramática o teatral, libros eruditos, historia, historiografía, biografía, memorias, prólogos, misceláneos).

The most persistent question that arises throughout the work concerns the advisability of including all the uneartbed information. For example, how important is it to know that Galdós rejected bucolic art from the outset of his career or what he thought of Borrás when all Shoemaker can produce is a one-liner? Do the two criticisms of Balzac voiced by fictional characters substantiate Galdós' universally acknowledged debt to his French mentor? Surely this is a case of where a positivist, empirical approach yields little and Galdós' silences are far more significant. A more serious methodological   —110→   error, especially in the first part of the study is the failure to fully consider the fictional context of many opinions extracted from the novelas and episodios. Occasionally Shoemaker will qualify his equation of protagonist and Galdós with the useful insertion of the word «parecer», but a lot more space would have been needed to elucidate the real meaning of such passages. Searching high and low through correspondence, prologues, speeches and literature, Shoemaker sometimes includes a reference because it contains the appropriate key-work: «novela, teatro, realismo» etc. when the quotation does not tell us anything about what Galdós really thought about the topic in question. Given the fact that Shoemaker published his collection of La Prensa articles six years previously it is somewhat surprising to find the inclusion of suitable extracts from these writings postponed to an appendix. Moreover, if this reference work is surely to be used with profit (no one is going to plough through all the entries, word for word) a more extensive bibliography and onomastic, subject indices should have been provided. Galdós, despite his own confessions, was undeniably interested in literary criticism and was an important literary critic as well as creator of his age (the two really can not be divorced). But this is not to say that everything he wrote was necessarily interesting or worth including. He could be deliberately, mischievously opaque at times, even disappointingly banal, especially in his correspondence. To Professor Shoemaker's credit he has captured these varying aspects of Galdós the critic. Future diggers will stand in awe of Professor Shoemaker's spadework.


Another very distinguished Galdós scholar, Walter T. Pattison, Benito Pérez Galdós: etapas preliminares de «Gloria» (Barcelona: Puvill, 1979), pp. 379, places us all in his debt with his painstaking reconstruction of the various manuscript versions of Gloria. His labour of transcription was made possible by Galdós' customary use of the reverse sides of earlier versions for his final draft. Pattison is thus able to lay out practically all of the first, second and final manuscript versions of Part I. Part II did not require the same treatment as there was less revision by Galdós; so only the pages omitted in the final draft are reproduced. Prefacing each section of the reproduced versions are segmented revisions of Pattison's 1969 AG article (4, pp. 55-61) describing the various stages of the redaction. Thanks to Pattison's meticulous, well-annotated transcription (which also includes 'tachas' by Galdós) galdosistas can now appreciate for themselves the careful revisions Galdós kept making to the text of Gloria before he was satisfied that it was ready for publication: excising digressive action, removing caricaturesque elements from the description of the 'neo' characters and reducing the length of some descriptions. Given the paucity of Galdós manuscript material available, Pattison's work is extremely valuable. What makes it even more intriguing and valuable is that it offers incontrovertible evidence to refute Galdós' own well-publicized description of the novel's gestation and composition.


Kay Engler's revised Ph. D. thesis, The Structure of Realism: the Novelas contemporáneas of Benito Pérez Galdós, North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures, 184 (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina, 1977), pp. IX-193, differs from previous studies of the theme by Correa, Gullón and Ángel del Río in that her examination of Galdós' particular brand of realism is prefaced by a long examination of the major theories on 19th century Realism in the novel expounded by such scholars as Wellek, Watt, Kayser, Ortega and Lukács. This discussion allows Engler to approach her major area of interest: a determination of Realism's formula of art, the basis of which she sees as the establishment and elaboration by the narrator of the dialectic of perceiving consciousness and external reality. Her dense, zestful search for the structures of this dialectic, realism's style, in Galdós' novelas contemporáneas falls under the headings of: point of view, distance and the unreliable narrator. Engler's book is undoubtelly the most substantial examination of this theme to date and her conclusions that Galdós' realism conforms to the structures established by modern theorists are acceptable. Nonetheless, there are some weaknesses which need to be mentioned. Despite its title, the monograph only deals with the first half of the serie contemporánea, and in particular La desheredada, Miau and Fortunata y Jacinta, perhaps because the realism of the later novels is of a different nature with more complex structures. The main mode of treatment of Galdós' novels in the first two-thirds of the study is to cite passages from respective novels in support and illustration of a particular theoretical statement. This methodology changes in the last third when the author in a large number of pages devoted to El amigo Manso and Lo prohibido abandons this successful elucidation of the structures and resorts to what appears as simple plot summary. On other occasions, her awareness of the subtle structures of Galdós' realism momentarily breaks down as for instance, when she reckons that there is always one character in the Galdós novel whose words explicitly represent the point of view of the narrator or that most of the narrators of Galdós' novels are in fact reliable. Galdós is never so straight forward as all that. All in all though, Engler has paved the way for more exhaustive structuralist approaches to Galdós' realism.

Sara E. Schyfter's well-annotated monograph, The few in the Novels of Benito Pérez Galdós (London: Támesis, 1978), pp. 127, is really a revised expansion of three earlier studies («The Judaism of Galdós' Daniel Morton», Hispania, 59 (1976), 24-33; «Almudena and the Jewish Theme in Misericordia», Anales Galdosianos, 8 (1973), 51-61; and «Christians, Jews and Moors: Galdós' Search for Values in Aita Tettauen and Carolos VI, en la Rápita», Symposium, 29 (1975), 84-102), with the addition of two fresh and possibly more controversial studies: «Maxi Rubín as Schlemiel» and «Torquemada as Converso». All readers would agree that Galdós draws particular attention to the possibility of Maxi's Jewish origins at the beginning of Part II of Fortunata y Jacinta, that, in many ways, he does resemble the anti-hero fool of modern Jewish fiction, the schelmiel. But does Galdós really build on this suggestion and create in Maxi a character who is Jewish in an   —112→   abstract dimension, by default and against his awareness, as Schyfter maintains? The text beyond the first chapter of Part II does not seem to support such an interpretation which is further weakened by the Christ and Don Quixote comparisons.

Similarly, in her chapter on Torquemada as a converso, lack of textual evidence or exaggeration of marginal echoes (like Torquemada's refusal to eat pork in the tavern scene toward the end of the series) make it hard to accept Schyfter's view that Galdós is considering the specifically Spanish experience with the Jew in the figure of the usurer and the converso. To warrant such an interpretation the text would have to contain more than faint humorous echoes of the character's Jewishness. Much of what Schyfter says about the general actions and personality of Torquemada and Maxi is essentially true. It is only when she tries to add the Jewish label that the mind balks. If only the Jewish references were stronger and more substantial to carry the fascinating cultural glosses and reflections that Schyfter generously and authoritatively provides, then her general conclusions would be valid for all five studies: Galdós certainly was interested in many facets of Jewish culture going to some lengths to document himself on them. He incorporated these aspects into certain of his novels with the specific intentions of putting into relief the weaknesses of contemporary Christian society in Spain, of recognizing the historical importance of the Jewish contribution to the Hispanic fabric, and (something Schyfter does not stress enough) of suggesting that the Hispanic «convivencia» of three different religions is far more preferable to religious bigotry.

Like Engler, but with much less success, Serafín Alemán, Juegos de vida y muerte: el suicidio en la novela galdosiana (Miami: Universal, 1978), pp. 133, prefaces his examination of the suicide theme in Galdós' work with appropriate extracts from modern psychological and sociological studies. However, these are mostly forgotten in subsequent discussion. With extensive plot summaries and quotations, Alemán first looks at the unsuccessful suicides in Celín, Marianela, Tormento and Fortunata y Jacinta. Despite the heavy documentation, Alemán fails to note that Nela's ultimate death is a form of suicide or that Galdós gently mocks Amparo's frustrated attempt. Separate chapters are devoted to the successful suicides in the novelas contemporáneas. His thesis, rather simply repeated, is that Viera, Rafael Águila and Villaamil are all driven to suicide by their own inner complexes (inferiority, Oedipean and affective, respectively) as well as by social factors.

Federico Sopeña Ibáñez's La religión 'mundana' según Galdós (Las Palmas: Excmo. Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, 1978), pp. 158, is a very mediocre work, composed for the most part of extensive textual quotations from both the novelas and the episodios to show how worldly or socialized religion takes the form of indifference in the male and of superstitious beatería in the female. Shallow, chatty connecting comments do little to prevent the conclusion that the theme is poorly developed. There is no evidence of any critical apparatus and a lack of critical judgment pervades the whole as his admiration for Guillermina Pacheco shows. The same criticisms also apply to the two other sections, unannounced in the book's title: «el comer, signo múltiple de vida en Galdós» (a listing of references to food and eating which,   —113→   according to Sopeña, reflect developments in contemporary political and social history) and «los perros en Galdós».

Individual Novels

The Critical Guides to Spanish Texts Series, edited by J. E. Varey and A. D. Deyermond (London: Támesis) offers an excellent format for closer, more in-depth analyses of the major points of individual novels that will appeal far beyond the intended student audience. Two well-established British Hispanists, Geoffrey Ribbans and Eamonn Rodgers, have now added a pair of brilliantly-written volumes on Galdós novels to the collection: Fortunata y Jacinta (1977,. pp. 121) and Miau (1978, pp. 74), respectively.

Ribbans packs a lot of information and insight into his six chapters on: overall structure; modes of presentation; depiction of society; portrayal of minor characters; the principal characters; confrontation and reconciliations (this last one pulling together the implications of the earlier ones). An attractive feature of his excellent study is the careful use that he makes of manuscript and galley-proof evidence, especially in his discussion of the characters. Stressing the importance of literary considerations over political or sociological interpretations, Ribbans' judgments are on the whole accurate and sensible; he brings out well the ambiguous tones of the narrator's voice; he rejects the Marxist notion of class-conflict in the novel; and he emphasizes, perhaps more than most previous critics, the complexities in the presentation of Guillermina, Jacinta, Mauricia la Dura and of course, Maxi. In his conclusion he constructs an interesting hierarchy of the characters according to their values as human beings. Only in the final summation of the novel's direction would there appear to be any room for disagreement as Ribbans leans towards an optimistic interpretation of the dénouement, with its emphasis on renewal and reconciliation.

Rodgers' Critical Guide on Miau, written in a more leisurely if equally convincing style, carefully avoids taking sides in the polemic generated by Miau in the 70's and aims, instead, at underlining Galdós' careful and subtle employment of an ironic style that seeks to expose the lack of human values or otherwise behind the rhetoric of cliché language used by both narrator and characters. After an introduction to the world of M-I-A-U, the three main chapters on Villaamil, Abelarda and Victor, and Lusito, demonstrate with judicious examples the degree to which this universal use of cliché language is often unconscious and inevitable in the given circumstances of this particular society. The one danger of over-emphasizing Galdós' use of irony and analogy is that the often-commented tragic aspects of Miau are thereby downplayed or even put into question, though, as Rodgers acutely observes, the contrastive role played by Argüelles acts as an effective control in this regard.

Vernon A. Chamberlin's many studies on Galdós have been notable for their meticulously researched information and interesting insights. His Galdós and Beethoven «Fortunata y Jacinta»: A Symphonic Novel (London: Támesis, 1977), pp. 123, is in the same style, but more controversial than its predecessors because of Chamberlin's bold and determined attempt to see the   —114→   structures of the novel as an imitation of the four movements of Beethoven's Eroica symphony. But despite the marshalling of statements to show Galdós' life-long interest in music and Beethoven, the numerous allusions to the art in Galdós' work and especially in Fortunata y Jacinta, Chamberlin's argument is unconvincing, more so when, as the major plank in his case, he starts equating the «masculine» and «femenine» themes of musicology with the major theme of the novel: the triumph of female maternalism over male egotism. Chamberlin's hypothesis, if it were true, would make Galdós one of the originators of the modern symphonic novel. Surely Galdós with his sharp sense of his own creative originality would not have let this literary son wallow in anonymity.

The first part of Pedro Ortiz Armengol's Relojes y tiempo en «Fortunata y Jacinta»: Cronología de una novela de Galdós (Las Palmas: Excmo. Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, 1978), pp. 89, is a rather uninspiring collection of references to clocks, watches and time expressions in Galdós' masterpiece. The second half is more interesting as the chronological structure is plotted against the external evidence supplied by contemporary newspapers and calendars. Not surprisingly, Galdós proves to be not as accurate as Ortiz Armengol would have liked. The latter's mechanical treatment of his important device in the novel fails to take into account the subtle artistic effect Galdós deliberately sought with his varied manipulations.

Ricardo Gullón is his usual thought-provoking, fluently-readable self in his latest study, Psicologías del autor y lógicas del personaje (Madrid: Taurus, 1979), pp. 180, where his re-statement of the well-known structures of the literary process (author, narrator, text, context, reader, characters, conflict, plot, space, time, rhythm) sandwich his illustrations taken from the Torquemada series. He particularly stresses the idea that once the text is initiated the author loses his previous absolute freedom and now becomes a benfvolent creator, subject to the internal demands of the text as determined by the logical dynamics of the characters on stage. Gullón correctly argues that the context of the novel's composition has to be taken into consideration in any evaluation of the text. However, the best parts of this study are surely his accurate aperçus concerning various features of the Torquemada novels, judgments which, in retrospect, seem remarkably detachable from the surrounding theoretical exposition as the discussion of the Prometheus picture in the Gravelinas Palace, or of the changing relationship between Fidela and Rafael well illustrate.

Collections of Articles

Carlos Blanco Aguinaga's La historia y el texto literario. Tres novelas de Galdós (Madrid: Nuestra Cultura, 1978), pp. 124, contains two previously published studies: «El amigo Manso: la educación pequeño-burguesa y el ciclo céntrico de la sociedad», Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica, 24 (1975), 419-37; «Historia, reflejo literario y estructura de la novela: el ejemplo de Torquemada», Ideologies and Literatures, No. 2 (1977), pp. 23-39. The sole original study «Entrar por el aro: restauración del 'orden' y educación   —115→   de Fortunata» is the revision of a stimulating paper delivered to the MLA Session on Galdós in Chicago in 1977 when the author and his contestant, John Kronik, gave sharply opposed, but mutually enriching interpretations of a single chapter in Fortunata y Jacinta, Part III, Chapter IV (the period of Fortunata's tutelage under Feijóo). Blanco ranges over other sections of the novel to substantiate his historicist interpretation of the text: the many carefully placed references to contemporary political developments oblige the reader to consider the importance of the external reality so incorporated.

All the articles in Alfredo Rodríguez's collection, Estudios sobre la novela de Galdós (Madrid: Porrúa Turanzas, 1978), pp. 157, are previously unpublished. Shorter than Blanco's, but covering overall a wider area, they are well footnoted and obviously are the results of much hard work. Even so, the general level rarely goes beyond the middling, undoubtedly because of the narrow focus of the subject matter of each individual paper. In «Cervantes, Lord Byron y Galdós», it is claimed that Lord Gray is presented as a caricature of Lord Byron, Galdós' revenge on the English Romantic for slandering the good name of Cervantes. «Génesis de un personaje de Doña Perfecta» establishes three sources for the figure of Cayetano: the pedantic nephew in Don Quixote, a Santander pro-Pereda paper of the period, and Menéndez y Pelayo. Some of the examples illustrating the symbolic or representational role of the stars in «La estética de un leitmotif galdosiano: el firmamento estrellado en La familia de León Roch» are interesting, others more trivial. Rodríguez curiously sees Miau in «Hacia una interpretación de Miau» as a bridge novel between the earlier optimistic social novels and the later pessimistic spiritual novels of the serie contemporánea. He then proceeds to enumerate various examples of the irrational, dehumanization, dramatization, religious debunking, which prove that this novel's reality is «peculiarmente desarticulada». In «Sobre el realismo milagroso de Misericordia» Rodríguez exhibits examples of this theme in what is still basically a realist novel for him. A goodish survey is made in «Ido del Sagrario: notas sobre el otro novelista en Galdós» where Ido emerges as the ironic Romantic counterpart to Galdós' other alter ego, Alejandro Miquis. «Una norma estilística de Galdós: la triade femenina» looks at the nature of this common grouping in various novels. «Para un índice onomástico de la creación galdosiana» represents a lot of hard work, but does the list of Christian names really have more than a momentary interest for us? «Montesinos sobre Galdós» is a frank and accurate assessment of the weaknesses and merits of the great critics's last study.

B. Individual articles in books

Mario Parajón's chapter on Galdós («Galdós y el Madrid de la Restauración») in his Cinco escritores y su Madrid: Galdós, Azorín, Baroja, Rubén Darío y Ramón (Madrid: Prensa Española, 1978), pp. 175 (at pp. 9-40) has little to recommend it. The chapter is divided into three sections: «La familia», «Lo prohibido» and «Fortunata y Jacinta». The first, containing a number of fictionalized scenes and dialogues, is a breezy, unoriginal account of   —116→   Galdós' life with an emphasis on the Las Palmas period. The other two sections just take an uncritical look at a few of the characters and scenes from the respective novels.

Far more successful is C. P. Snow's chapter on Galdós in The Realists: Eight Portraits (New York: Scribner's 1978) pp. 336 (at. pp. 217-55). Writing for an international, non-Hispanist audience, the respected English novelist and civil servant, who confesses to a recent and enthusiastic discovery of Galdós, presents in a racy, clipped style an impressionistic but accurate outline of Galdós' career. The tone is always one of high admiration, especially for Fortunata y Jacinta which he considers one of the finest novels ever written. In view of the attention he lavishes on it, and to a lesser extent on La desheredada, Snow gives the impression of not being aware of the full detailed corpus of Galdós' work. A curious imprecision of hard facts and a lack of reference to critical studies reinforce this impression. But this is to quibble at the service Snow is performing for galdosismo with an Englishonly reading public. In what is essentially a biographical study, galdosistas are well reminded that Galdós may have been a shy person throughout his life, but he was never modest.

V. S. Pritchett is another famous English critic and writer who has done good international service for the cause of galdosismo. His chapter «Galdós. A Spanish Balzac» (at pp. 152-57) in his latest collection of essays, The Myth Makers. Essays on European, Russian and South American Novelists (London: Chatto and Windus, 1979), pp. 190, is a reprint of his 1975 Anales Galdosianos (10, pp. 131-34) article «Spanish Voices» which is very laudatory and perceptive about the merits of Galdós and Fortunata y Jacinta in particular, including its language, characters and unforgettable scenes.

J. J. Macklin's brilliantly fluent «B. Pérez Galdós: Fortunata y Jacinta (1886-87)» in D. A. Williams ed. The Monster in the Mirror. Studies in Nineteenth Century Realism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 300 (at pp. 179-203), is a revision of a conference paper for another type of general non-Hispanist audience: fellow academics interested in themes and topics common to all literatures, here 19th Century Realism in the Novel. As a result of this target area, Macklin has to go over ground well known to galdosistas: the development of Spanish realism in reaction to costumbrismo, Galdós' 1870 manifesto and his earlier exercises in realism-cum-naturalism. When Macklin approaches the spiritual realism of Fortunata y Jacinta, he follows the same track taken by Engler and Ribbans (see above), but without reliance on the theorists: he explores the techniques of narration (point of view, irony, analogy, unreliable narrator) used in the fictional reproduction of the contemporary social reality. It is the dialectic between this reproduced social reality and the characters with their illusions and weaknesses, which constitutes (according to Macklin) the fundamental pattern of Galdosian realism and Nineteenth Century Realism in general. His assessment of the novel's dénouement as a balancing of a broadly optimistic account of human development and achievement with a recognition of life's more unpleasant possibilities captures theright balance, more so possibly than Ribban's monograph (see above).


Lacking any critical apparatus and written in a chatty, staccato style Georges Haldas' Trois écrivains de la relation fondamentale: Pérez Galdós, Giovanni Verga, C. F. Ramuz (Lausanne: L'Age d'Homme, 1978), pp. 109 (at pp. 25-29), does not claim to be a specialist study. His oft-repeated idea is that Nazarín is a modern anti-hero who, opposed to contemporary society, fills the void of his life and that of others with Christian faith. Haldas does relate Nazarín to earlier and later works, noting that its preoccupation with a universal destiny (in his words words «la relation fondamentale») constitutes a new development in Galdós' work, away' from the earlier social novels. This opinion ignores earlier signals of a similar concern and is really too generous to Nazarín the character. Nonetheless, again a non-galdosista has done galdosismo a good service by emphasizing Don Benito's ability to appeal to the most universal aspirations of modern man.

Ricardo Navas Ruiz's Imágenes liberales: Rivas, Larra, Galdós (Salamanca: Almar, 1979), pp. 197 (at pp. 13-28), is rather a deceptive title as it contains only a short chapter on Galdós «Zaragoza: problemas de estructura» which had already been published in Hispania, 55 (1972), 247-55.

Julian Palley reproduces in his El laberinto y la esfera. Estudios sobre la novela moderna (Madrid: Ínsula, 1978), pp. 197, two previously published essays on Galdós: «Aspectos de La de Bringas», pp. 151-63 (Kentucky Romance Quarterly, 16 (1969), 339-48) and «Nazarín y El idiota», pp. 165-74 (Ínsula, 258 (May 1968), p. 3).

Guillermo Díaz Plaja's Literatura y contorno vital (Valencia: Bello, 1978), pp. 230 (at pp. 9-16), has a brief unoriginal section on «Galdós y su contorno madrileño» that refers to Galdós' painter's eyes and the attacks his literary style received at the hands of the Generation of 1898.

In conclusion, our «trienio» has seen a great number of books published on Galdós. They vary: in length (from long monographic studies to isolated articles in collections or reprints of earlier works); in focus (from overall biographical summaries, through manuscript reproductions and works of reference, to in-depth analyses of individual novels, especially Fortunata y Jacinta, or short themes); in quality (from the impressively detailed studies of Madariaga, Pattison and Shoemaker, and the brilliantly fluent analyses of Ribbans, Rodgers and Macklin, to the rather pedestrian collections of data); and in audience appeal (from the specialist galdosistas to those interested in the Nineteenth Century Novel in general or in the spiritual condition of modern man). Few of the studies are epoch-making, but all reveal an intense interest in Galdós and his work that, with possibly a stricter control on its published manifestations, bodes well for the future health and prosperity of Galdós studies.

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