Man and nature in Galdós' Halma71
«La aldea» -observes a character in Emilia Pardo Bazán's Los pazos de Ulloa (1886)- «cuando se cría uno en ella y no sale de ella jamás, envilece, empobrece y embrutece.»72 Eight years later José María Pereda describes in Peñas arriba (1894) the effect of country life upon the stalwart men of La Montaña: «En todas las caras, viejas y juveniles, se notaba la misma expresión de bondad, con cierto matiz de sobresalto, como si la continua visión de las grandes moles a cuya sombra viven aquellas gentes las tuviera amedrentadas y suspensas.»73 If Pardo Bazán appears to be following -albeit in a cautious committed Catholic way- in the footsteps of Emile Zola, Pereda seems nearer to William Wordsworth, believing that
|(The Tables Turned)|
An analysis of the depiction of the countryside in the Spanish novel of the second half of the nineteenth century would reveal a spectrum of varying attitudes. Despite the Episodios nacionales, and despite the early novels, it is not usual to find critics looking at Galdós as a writer who is concerned to depict country life. He appears, particularly in the major novelas contemporáneas, to be so firmly anchored in Madrid. Nevertheless, it is perhaps worth while to reflect on the extent to which the novels of Galdós can be said to offer a particular view of country life, and to consider whether there is to be found in them a contrast between life in the town and life in the country, such as we find in Pereda, for instance, at one and the same time a nineteenth-century version of the alabanza de aldea and, in its menosprecio de corte, also a political reaction on behalf of the sane and robust patria chica against the corrupt central authority of the capital.74
In the earlier novels of Galdós, the country-side is often symbolic. At the end of La Fontana de Oro, Lázaro and Clara (in one version75) find happiness only by leaving Madrid and taking refuge in the country:
Cómo se acomodó Lázaro en su pueblo, y qué medios de subsistencia pudo allegar, es cosa larga de contar. Baste decir que renunció por completo, inducido a ello por su mujer y por sus propios escarmientos, a los ruidosos éxitos de Madrid y a las lides políticas. Tuvo el raro talento de sofocar su naciente ambición y confinarse en su pueblo, buscando en una vida oscura, pacífica, laboriosa y honrada, la satisfacción de los más legítimos deseos del hombre. Ni él, ni su intachable esposa, se arrepintieron de esto en el transcurso de su larga vida.76
I have argued elsewhere that in Doña Perfecta the characters tend to view Orbajosa and its surrounding countryside in terms of their own prejudices. For don Inocencio, it is a Horatian haven of tranquillity; for Pepe Rey's father a Virgilian retreat. Pepe Rey himself finds a forceful contrast between the sentimental picture of Orbajosa painted for him by his mother, and the harsh reality which he finds about him as he rides on horseback from Villahorrenda to Orbajosa, and between the pleasant-souding country names and the sullen, bare landscape.77 In this particular patria chica a tough countryman like Caballuco is twisted and thwarted by his environment, and comes to be more like Pardo Bazán's Primitivo than Pereda's jolly rustics. In Gloria the countryside serves rather as a reflection of human emotions, and is itself partly humanised: «Espesísimo en el centro, [el pinar] se clarea en sus extremos, formando anchas calles, y algunos pinos se separan del grupo, corriendo hacia el arenal o hacia la montaña, cual si hubieran reñido con sus compañeros.»78 The scale of this study does not permit me to linger over these early novels, nor even the briefest glimpse of the wide panorama of Spain which Galdós displays in the first two series of the Episodios nacionales.
In La desheredada, Alejandro Miquis and Isidora Rufete visit the park of the Buen Retiro:
|(58; OC, IV, 987)79|
They sit on the grass, and Miquis begins to talk about autopsies, an obvious contrast with the notes of the nightingale (which is apparently in full song). But their afternoon is nevertheless an idyll in this rus in urbe, where they have created for themselves a new Eden: «Se cogían las manos; se sentaban de nuevo; charlaban, convidados de la hermosura del día y del lugar, donde todo parecía recién-criado, como en aquellos días primeros de la fabricación del mundo, en que Dios iba haciendo las cosas y las daba por buenas» (60; OC, IV, 988). Nature gives its example to the lovers, says Miquis in a caricature of a learned lecture:
|(64; OC, IV, 990)|
Despite the burlesque tone of this speech, genuine words of love intervene. They lunch in a tavern by the Campos Elíseos; however, their rustic table is not «bien abastecida de amable paz», for a comparison with the restaurants of Madrid inevitably comes to mind. They make their way back slowly to the Castellana, and Miquis speaks about his hopes for the future. He buys oranges, and Isidora tempts him, as did Eve with the apple. But when they arrive at the Castellana, —61→ it is the time of the paseo, and Isidora is carried away by the beauty and elegance of the spectacle. The contrast is evident enough. The two young people have a lively affection for each other, and this comes to life in the presence of Nature (a far cry, incidentally, from the effects of la terre on the peasants of Zola), even though this be the artificial countryside of a city park. But Isidora's ambitions are too strong, and as «la cabra tira al monte», she too is pulled back to society, and to her inevitable ruin, by her aspirations.
In later novels, Galdós makes similar use of a passing contrast between happiness in a country setting, and the superficial life of fashionable Madrid. Angel Guerra's vain endeavour to set up his charitable foundation is located in the country, outside Toledo. And in Nazarín a large part of the novel takes place in the countryside to the south of Madrid. As he leaves the capital by way of the Puerta de Toledo, Nazarín feels that he can breathe again, and his first encounters are pleasant enough, at least on the surface: «Todo iba bien hasta entonces, y la humanidad que por aquellos andurriales encontraba, pareciole de naturaleza muy distinta de la que dejara en Madrid» (117; OC, V, 1710).80 However, the adventures of Nazarín outside Madrid are to some extent a parable, and an intentional ambiguity arises as to whether this part of the novel is «real» or invented by the narrator. And at the end of the novel Nazarín is taken back to Madrid, for the human being should endeavour to work out his personal salvation within society, and can not deny to society those duties which are incumbent upon him.
In Halma we see the way in which Nazarín's doctrines are received by fashionable Madrid society. The priest is much discussed, and opinions are divided: «Unos le tenían por santo, otros por un demente, en cuyo cerebro se habían reunido con extraordinaria densidad los corpúsculos insanos que flotan, por decirlo así, en la atmósfera intelectual de nuestro tiempo» (42; OC, V, 1782).81 Nazarín is not introduced into the action of the novel until the Tercera Parte, and when we see him his «sencillez hermosa... la serenidad de su espíritu, expresada con palabra fácil y concisa» (135; OC, V, 1809) forms an obvious contrast with the interested parties and the seekers after sensation who throng his rooms, «un público no menos numeroso que el que va a los teatros y a las carreras de caballos» (139; OC, V, 1810). Nazarín plays little part in the plot of this novel, and it is not -significantly enough- until he is translated to Pedralba that he intervenes in the action, his wise counsel revealing to Catalina the true course which she should follow.
Catalina, Condesa de Halma, in her earnest desire to found a charitable institution, suffers a martyrdom at the hands of Madrid society no less distressing than her painful odyssey described in the opening chapters of the novel. The death of her husband had occurred on the «día de la Natividad de Nuestra Señora» (10; OC, V, 1772), and the suffering which Catalina subsequently undergoes results in her spiritual re-birth. She suffers «la miseria, la efectiva horripilante miseria... Pero todo lo llevaba con paciencia, todo lo aceptaba por amor de Cristo, anhelando purificarse con el sufrimiento» (13-14; OC, V, 1773). When she arrives back in Madrid her appearance is so changed that her brother, the Marqués de Feramor, does not recognize her (a comment, also, on his concern for appearances). But Catalina has not lost, and never loses, her dignity. Restored to health, she nevertheless renounces social life and declares that she is thinking of joining a religious Order. When pressed by her brother as to what kind of Order she wishes to join, she replies: «Yo tengo mis ideas...» Feramor fears that these ideas «no son —62→ de una perfecta congruencia con la realidad.» Catalina replies that «pensamos, sentimos la vida de un modo muy distinto» (35; OC, V, 1779-1780), stressing thus the dichotomy between the rational and the intuitive approaches to life. Feramor has already revealed that he feels that the life of religious abnegation is not in consonance with modern life:
|(33-34; OC, V, 1779)|
He fears that she may be thinking of founding a new Order and argues that she lacks both the intellectual capacity and, due to the expenses occasioned by her husband's death, the financial wherewithal to carry out this project:
|(39; OC, V, 1781)|
Catalina replies that her capital is her faith, and relies upon the priest, don Manuel Flórez, to convince her brother. Flórez refuses to allow Feramor to deduct from Catalina's inheritance the expenses of her voyage, and persuades him to hand over her money in full and to offer her also the property of the castle of Pedralba, «un caserón viejo, con una torre, y no sé qué ruinas de un monasterio cisterciense» (87; OC, V, 1794). Very much against his will, Feramor agrees.
After giving Catalina the good news, which he presents as an act of Christian charity on the part of Feramor, Flórez discusses the project with her: «Si no recuerdo mal, ya hemos hablado bastante. Convinimos en que usted fundaría, en pleno campo y lejos del bullicio, un instituto de caridad, con rentas propias...» He argues that «la caridad debe hacerse con método, apoyándose en el criterio de la Iglesia, y favoreciendo los planes de la misma. No vale dar limosna sin ton ni son. Falta saber a quién se da, y cómo se da.» Catalina answers that she does not understand, and when Flórez replies that he has already explained this on a previous occasion, she answers: «Pues lo he olvidado. Pero no hay que repetirlo. Ya lo comprenderé cuando tenga la cabeza más serena» (96-97; OC, V, 1797-1798). Once again it is clear that Catalina's reactions are intuitive, contrasting with Flórez's rational arguments based on the commonly accepted interpretations of Christian charity, as previously they had formed a contrast with Feramor's economic and financial viewpoint.
During the same discussion, the name of Vatalina's cousin, Pepe Antonio de Urrea, is mentioned. Urrea had previously been introduced in the novel as a ne'er-do-well, a sponger on his more wealthy relatives. By way of revenge for the pressures put upon him by Flórez, Feramor has suggested to Urrea that he apply to Catalina for the 1,000 pesetas that he is seeking to float a projected publication. The amount of the sum rapidly rises as Urrea is spurred on to ask for more by Feramor, and soon Urrea is thinking in terms of 25,000 pesetas. Now Catalina reveals that she intends to grant the request. It will be her revenge on Fate, which robbed her of her husband, and a revenge also on wealth:
|(99; OC, V, 1798)|
What is important is not the gift itself, nor the quantity of money involved, but the state of mind of the giver: «Lo que importa es la efusión del alma, la piedad, al desprendernos de una suma que tenemos y que otro nos pide» (101; OC, V, 1799).82 Her gift to Urrea is, however, to be wisely administered. She has already told him that his debts will be cleared, a house provided for him and a fund set up which will be administered jointly by Flórez and the Countess. The effect on Urrea of this is to make him burst into tears, and he tells Catalina: «Eres la Providencia misma... y realizas el sueño de mi vida; tú me salvas, tú me redimes, tú haces de mí otro hombre, y por ti, Halma, bien puedo decir que vuelvo a nacer» (103; OC, V, 1799). Catalina, already regenerated by her experiences, is apparently about to be the cause of her cousin's reform.
Flórez's reaction is ambiguous. At first he is stunned, then carried along by Catalina's enthusiasm. As he leaves the house, he mutters to himself: «Esta doña Catalina es el demonio... ¡qué barbaridad! Quiero decir que es un ángel, un ser extraordinario. Ya no me queda duda» (108; OC, V, 1801). But Madrid society shows itself less generous in its reactions, particularly when Catalina refuses to help Feramor's wife, María Ignacia Monterones and the Marquesa de San Salomó in their charitable works, pointing out that «cada cual debía entenderse a solas para practicar la caridad.» The three ladies react furiously, and the Marquesa de Feramor says to her husband: «Si no fuera ella quien es, y nosotros quien somos, creería yo que la residencia natural de tu hermana era un santo manicomio» (117; OC, V, 1803). As with Nazarín, society finds it difficult to judge whether Catalina's actions are those of a saint or of a madman.83
Not only does Madrid society doubt the sanity of Catalina in using her inheritance to found a charitable institution, but her relationship with Urrea also becomes the subject of much scandalous and vicious gossip. As Catalina says, gossip is «la forma civilizada del martirio, ahora que no tenemos Dioclesianos que persigan al Cristianismo, ni sectarios furibundos que corten cabezas de creyentes» (189; OC, V, 1825). Catalina is able to forgive: «No son malos, pero tampoco son buenos; viven en ese nivel medio moral a que se debe la vulgaridad y toda la insulsez de la sociedad presente» (316; OC, V, 1862). Gossip is, of course, by no means confined to the town, neither in Spanish literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, nor in life. But it arises in Madrid in part because of the inability of the madrileños to see the simple truth. Their world is one of externals. The theme of clothes as a sign of outward respectability, so prominent in earlier novels such as La de Bringas and Fortunata y Jacinta, appears again in this novel: «La ropa es como una segunda piel, en cuya composición y pátina tanta parte tiene lo de dentro como lo de fuera» (46; OC, V, 1783). The concern of the madrileños with clothes as an outward symbol contrasts with the simplicity of Catalina's dress, particularly when she takes possession of Pedralba. The religion of society, too, is largely concerned with externals, and religious enthusiasm has lately become fashionable: «Todos los señores prácticos, políticos y parlamentarios lo son [creyentes] por conveniencia, por decoro y exterioridad. Van con vela a las procesiones, y cuando se arrodillan ante el Santísimo y ven elevar la hostia, —64→ están pensando en que los cambios suben también, o bajan» (58; OC, V, 1786). Feramor in particular acts out the part he feels he should play in society, helped by «el histrionismo seco de la buena educación» (67; OC, V, 1789).84 Ironically, Amador and Laínez, later in the novel, claim that Urrea is an histrión (292; OC, V, 1855), whilst Catalina, on the other hand, despises affectation throughout: «No gusto de hacer papeles», she says (197; OC, V, 1827). Madrid is clearly corrupt; the values of society are false and superficial, and for that reason society is unable to appreciate the genuineness of Catalina or of Nazarín, and suspects that Urrea's conversion is feigned.
When the action moves to Pedralba, the aldea is seen to be no better than the corte. Catalina settles into the old buildings, together with Nazarín who, having been judged by his ecclesiastical superiors, has been put into her care through the mediation of Flórez. With Nazarín goes Beatriz, and Catalina gives shelter to a poor family also. Spurred on by the reading of Saint Augustine, she has decided to found a City of God. Pedralba is significantly situated near a village called San Agustín; we see Catalina reading La ciudad de Dios (91; OC, V, 1796); and she refers to her institution as «nuestra pobre ínsula religiosa, esta ciudad, o más bien aldea de Dios» (319; OC, V, 1863). But if her intention is to found a City of God, others wish to turn it into an Isle of Barataria. «¡Pobre ínsula -says Catalina- tan sola, tan retirada, y ya te salen por todas partes Sanchos que quieren ser tus gobernadores!» (320; OC, V, 1864). Don Pascual Díaz Amador, half peasant and half gentleman, wishes to improve the estate, and sees himself as its administrator. Laínez wishes to turn it into an «instituto higiénico, hablando más propiamente, un sanatorio médico-quirúrgico, con vistas a la religión» (298; OC, V, 1857). The local priest, don Remigio, will sacrifice himself and become its director: «Y no es ambición, conste que no es ambición: en último caso sería sacrificio, y de los grandes; pero a ésas estamos» (297; OC, V, 1857). He evidently protests too much. Human passions, then are at work in Pedralba, just as much as in Madrid:
|(315; OC, V, 1862)|
Let us now turn to consider the role played in the novel by Catalina's cousin, Urrea. As we have seen, he is introduced as a parasite, «hombre inconstante, ligero, y de dudosa reputación» (69; OC, V, 1799), but also «más desgraciado que perverso» (70; OC, V, 1789). When Feramor suggests to him that he borrow money from Catalina, he calls her «una santa, una heroína cristiana» (75; OC, V, 1791), but this is only ironic, for a moment or two earlier he had called her loca. Nevertheless, it is also an unconscious prophecy of what will become later his genuine opinion of Catalina. Urrea also shows a lively interest in Nazarín at this point, and he it is who plants before the reader the enigma of what Nazarín represents. Urrea weeps, as we have seen, when Catalina tells him that she will give him the money he has asked for, although this is still an estafa. Catalina thinks of him as a child: «No puedo menos de considerarle, Sr. D. Manuel, como un niño mañoso a quien hay que educar. Le haremos todo el bien posible, sin escatimar —65→ los azotes. Porque eso sí, mucha caridad, pero mucho rigor» (104; OC, V, 1800). She has faith in him, and puts the blame on the ambiente. As children, they had enjoyed an innocent Eden in Zaportela, and when, in the later part of the novel, he goes to Pedralba, he finds it possible to recover this childhood innocence and the two happy children are reunited in a new Eden. But at this point in the story Urrea's reformation is far from sure. His way of telling Feramor about the loan shows that he still thinks in terms of feathering his own nest -«las bromas o pesadas o no darlas» (111; OC, V, 1802)- and he has in mind a further estafa, based on bringing back from Corfu the body of Catalina's late husband. It is possible to see him being influenced by the ambiente as he speaks to Feramor; the «upright» man tends to bring out the scoundrel in Urrea, just as, later on, he is influenced for the good when in the presence of Catalina. It is Urrea who refers to Catalina as Halma, thus throwing into relief the intentional symbolism of the title she had acquired on her marriage. Urrea now comes to despise Feramor -«egoistón, eterno inglés de la humanidad desvalida, usurero... Shylock disfrazado de aristócrata» (215; OC, V, 1803)- confesses to Catalina his intention to deceive her, and is forgiven. As the priest Flórez lies dying, Urrea tells Catalina that he is a new man: «Soy hechura tuya; soy un hombre nuevo, que has formado entre tus dedos, y luego me has dado vida y alma nuevas» (182; OC, V, 1823). However unlikely it may appear -and Galdós does not endeavour to make Urrea's conversion «realistic», since to do so would detract from the intuitive nature of the process- Urrea is on the way to a new life.
This new life finds its full development in the country retreat of Pedralba. Despite Catalina's warnings, Urrea cannot stay alone in Madrid, which he now sees as a «soledad cortesana» (211; OC, V, 1831). Society is for him now a series of farces put on by fantachonas (212; OC, V, 1832). He leaves for Pedralba, and confesses to don Remigio and Nazarín that he now sees Catalina as «una diosa, un ángel femenino... lo femenino santo, glorioso y paradisíaco» (236; OC, V, 1839). Catalina sends him back to Madrid, but he returns, is perdoned and set to work with the plough. He stands up well to his tasks, and makes friends with the simple Borrego brothers. New ideas take root in his mind. Nazarín, however, still has to teach him to suppress his anger, and eventually he succeeds in doing this,85 despite the calumnies from Madrid concerning his relationship with Catalina, motivated by Feramor and reported by Laínez and don Remigio. He weeps like a child, and pardons his transgressor. When the situation is finally resolved through Urrea's marriage with Catalina, a solution proposed by Nazarín, the priest counsels him: «Con ese surco escribes en la tierra tu gratitud» (346; OC, V, 1872). He is counselled, then, to eschew passionate declarations, and to show his love by practical and productive work. Again, a clear contrast is intended with the first husband of Catalina, a romantic dreamer governed by emotion, rather than by reason or intuition.
Urrea's reformation is first hinted at in his curiosity concerning Nazarín, but its full development is due to his experiences in Pedralba, and in contact with Nature. Pedralba is situated to the north of Madrid, between Colmenar Viejo and Torrelaguna. Well supplied with water, the property is run down and consists largely of monte. As he first sets out from Madrid, Urrea is entranced by «el grandioso panorama de la sierra. El corazón se le ensanchaba, el aire asoleado y puro llenábale de vida los pulmones. Desde su infancia no se había visto tan contento, —66→ ni gozado de una tan feliz y espléndida mañana. Se sentía niño...» (215; OC, V, 1832). When he is set to work at Pedralba, he feels himself free from the shackles of society. «Porque la vida de ciudad, durante los años que a veces sin razón se llaman floridos, de los veinte a los treinta, ¿qué había sido más que suplicio sin término, humillación, ansiedad, y cuanto mal existe? ¡Bendito salvajismo, bendita barbarie, que le permitía lo más elemental, vivir!» (281; OC, V, 1852). He becomes aware of Nature as he had never been before:
|(283; OC, V, 1852-1853)|
Despite this contact with Nature, and the act of recreación, Urrea is still concerned about the gossiping of Madrid, and believes that Feramor is endeavouring to bring about his expulsion from Pedralba. This he appreciates intuitively. As he says to Nazarín: «No puede haber equivocación en esto; el vivir en medio de la Naturaleza, rodeado de soledad, le hace a uno adivino» (309; OC, V, 1860). Required by Nazarín to pardon those who have transgressed against him, Urrea feels the need to «saltar, respirar el aire, ver las estrellas», and, throwing open the window, he contemplates the majesty of the night sky (313; OC, V, 1861). He gives himself up to God's will, counselled by Nazarín, and the priest and Urrea talk the night away until, «al concluir, ya palidecían las estrellas, y se difundía por el cielo la purísima luz del alba» (314; OC, V, 1862). Nazarín's counsel has proved fruitful, and the old Urrea is finally vanquished. When Nazarín brings him the news of the marriage which is to take place, Urrea is ploughing. The earth teaches patience. «Ama la tierra -counsels Nazarín- que a todos nos da sustento, y nos enseña tantas cosas, entre ellas una muy difícil de aprender. ¿A que no sabes lo que es? Esperar, hijo, esperar. La tierra guarda la sazón de las cosas, y nos la da... cuando debe dárnosla» (346; OC, V, 1872). His new-found patience has had its reward, and man's logic is finally disproved: «La suma ciencia parece locura; la verdad de Dios... sinrazón de los hombres» (345; OC, V, 1871).
The Romantic image of the wind stripping away the dead leaves or petals has thus been converted from an image of the death of illusion into one of rebirth. The wind had played an important part in the purgatory of Catalina at the beginning of the novel, and she too had found a new life through its agency. But, spurned by society, she had been forced into exile like another Charles V at Yuste: «La empujaban hacia el ascetismo, hacia el destierro y la soledad» (235; OC, V, 1838). The wind is also used to refer to the new religious enthusiasms of the day: «Esas rachas de ideas que vienen del extranjero, lo mismo que las modas del vestir, del comer y del andar en coche. Te cogió -says Catalina to Urrea- la ventolera religiosa, que suele soplar de cuando en cuando, lanzada por las tempestades que recorren furiosas el mundo» (275; OC, V, 1850). At the beginning of the Segunda Parte Galdós had developed the image to suggest the impact of new ideas on a closed and conservative society:—67→
|(65-66; OC, V, 1788)|
Galdós continues to extend the image, showing how fashion can affect religion: «Las señoras, naturalmente, aventaban más y más la racha con el aire de sus abanicos y con el aliento de su apasionada fraseología, hasta conseguir que se hinchara como tromba. Ignoraban que cuando se apaciguaran aquellos vientos, vendrían otros con nuevas ideas y pasiones nuevas» (67; OC, V, 1789). But these are only superficial changes in society and, whereas the aire of the sierra works a genuine reformation in Urrea, society's highs and lows are passing meteorological phenomena, and as changeable as atmospheric conditions themselves.
The image of the wind is most fully worked out in relation to the character of the priest, don Manuel Flórez y del Campo, who, unlike the lilies of the field, is very much concerned with his appearance. «Era un sacerdote muy simpático» (44; OC, V, 1782), the adjective first used to describe him being used again ironically at his death. Flórez is a society priest, lacking ambition, he has the don de gentes and «el alma flexible y escurridiza» (45; OC, V, 1783). He shows too much concern for externals: «Vestía con pulcritud y hasta con cierta elegancia dentro de la severidad del traje eclesiástico» (46; OC, V, 1784), a concern symbolised by the silver buckles on his shoes. Very much the busy cleric, he is constantly embroiled in affairs: «A las once he de ver al señor Vicario; y a las doce me esperan en Gracia y Justicia para ir a la Nunciatura» (87; OC, V, 1795). However, his growing acquaintance with Nazarín makes this «buen presbítero social» (135; OC, V, 1809) very confused in his ideas. Like the reporter in Nazarín, he feels that the cleric of La Mancha is out of his period: «Cada tiempo trae su forma y estilos de santidad» (153; OC, V, 1814). Under the influence of this new experience Flórez loses his appetite, appears suddenly older. «Sin duda Flórez empezó a conocer que se había tasado en algo más de lo que realmente valía» (155; OC, V, 1815). When he assists Catalina in her plans to found an institution, it is noteworthy that he grasps her meaning intuitively. But his overwhelming reaction is one of a profound sadness. Irrational ideas overcome the rational basis on which all his life has hitherto been built. He answers Feramor's objections to Catalina's plans by calling the Marqués un necio (172; OC, V, 1820), and this rejection of his previous life and its values causes a kind of stroke, symbolised by «estos aires... son aires muy malos» (175; OC, V, 1821). A central speech shows that he realises that previously his life had lacked love and true compassion. God -or his conscience- tells him:
|(176; OC, V, 1821)|
The aire is, then, the symbol of his realisation of his own inadequacy, just as the hebillas de plata are the symbol of the way in which previously he had come to terms with society. He had been the «niño mimoso y predilecto de la sociedad» (178; OC, V, 1822), and had never suffered or struggled. He is simpático and no more; he will leave no trace behind him at his death. His ama and sobrina, like those of Don Quixote, do not comprehend him: «Buena era la humildad; pero no tanto, Señor...» (181; OC, V, 1823). As Flórez lies dying, he humbles himself and, just as Urrea becomes child-like as he regains his lost innocence, so Flórez: «Su alma es toda candor. Piensa y habla como un niño» (188; OC, V, 1825). He has finally come to realise that his great defect was his self-love, and that he had been no more than a «santo de salón» (205; OC, V, 1830). Significantly, he quotes from Saint Augustine: «Tarde os conocí, lumbre verdadera, tarde os conocí, porque tenía delante de los ojos de mi vanidad una gran nube obscura y tenebrosa, que no me dejaba ver el sol de justicia, y la lumbre de la verdad» (206-207; OC, V, 1830). As his mind wanders, the symbols sum up his whole career:
|(208-209; OC, V, 1831)|
Nazarín gives the final judgement on Flórez:
|(337; OC, V, 1869)|
And, as we have seen, it was the initial contact with Nazarín which brought Flórez to a sense of his own inadequacy.
The aire, then, is a symbol of the self-scrutiny which arises in those who come into contact with Nazarín. In this novel the priest from La Mancha acts as a catalyst, provoking in those who are willing to heed him a re-examination of the fundamentals on which their life is based. Not only is Flórez changed by coming into contact with Nazarín but, as we have seen, the priest is instrumental in pointing out to Catalina and Urrea that they love each other and should marry. If Urrea's interest in Catalina is at first motivated principally by his pecuniary necessities, it is he who first calls her Halma. Catalina's interest in him is from the outset keener than was to have been expected: «Me ha conmovido» -she says- «contándome sus apuros para ganarse la vida con un rudo trabajo» (97; OC, V, 1798). As we have seen, she speaks of him as though he were a child in need of correction, calling him «el pobrecillo» (103; OC, V, 1799), «pobrecillo de mi alma» (104; OC, V, 1800). Urrea confesses to her as though she were his mother: «Soy y quiero ser un niño, y como niño, a ti, que eres como mi madre, te confieso mis horribles pecados» (125; OC, V, 1806). But that this is more than «afecto filial» (130; OC, V, 1807) is suggested by the «atracción invencible» which he feels drawing him towards Halma «en cuerpo y alma» (124; OC, V, 1805-1806), and is further revealed when Urrea cannot bear to be parted from Catalina, and leaves Madrid twice to be near her side. That Catalina's interest in Urrea is more than maternal is also gradually —69→ revealed, until she comes to realise her true path. Her appreciation is intuitive, not a rational decision: «Creyó escuchar una voz de muy lejos venida» (333; OC, V, 1868). In disguising her love from herself as maternal solicitude, she too has been, despite her disavowal, «haciendo un papel». But it needs Nazarín to bring her to an intuitive grasp of this truth.
The wind, then, is a symbol of the stripping away of false pretensions. It is also used to symbolise the impact of Nature on the receptive mind. Evidently, there are those who are blind to both influences: Feramor and his like feel only idle curiosity when confronted with Nazarín, and don Remigio's only concern is to leave the country and return to his beloved Madrid. But the sensitive are aware of Nazarín's impact upon them, and the example of Nature is there for all who have eyes to see.
Evidently, the use of Nature can be seen as a nineteenth-century variant of the alabanza de aldea. The symbolism of the starry night, followed by the dawn which chases away the shadows of the darkness, finds an echo in Luis de León, for instance. The krausistas had taught the necessity for closer contact with Nature, and their ideas must have had an impact on Galdós. But another possible influence must also be considered. In Chapter X of What I Believe, Tolstoy examines the difficulty of living according to the doctrine of Jesus:
One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be severed, that is, that he shall be able to see the sky above him, and that he shall be able to enjoy the sunshine, the pure air, the fields with their verdure, their multitudinous life...
Another inevitable condition of happiness is work: first, the intellectual labour that one is free to choose and loves; secondly, the exercise of physical power that brings a good appetite and tranquil and profound sleep...
The third undoubted condition of happiness is the family. But the more men are enslaved by worldly success, the more certainly are they cut off from domestic pleasures...
The fourth condition of happiness is sympathetic and unrestricted intercourse will all classes of men...
Finally the fifth condition of happiness is bodily health.86
In view of the acquaintance of Galdós with this work,87 it does not appear fanciful to see in this chapter the nucleus of many of the ideas contained in Halma. Urrea has to leave Madrid and come into contact with Nature before he can attain happiness, and physical labour, chopping wood and ploughing the fields, through which he regains his bodily health, helps him to achieve this end. The house at Pedralba symbolises the free and uninhibited mingling of the classes. Beatriz addresses the Countess in the second person, they dress similarly, and the furniture itself symbolises the mingling of the classes:
|(251-252; OC, V, 1843)|
And the solution finally propounded by Nazarín is that Catalina should emancipate herself from the restrictions of society, and base her charity on family life. «Dentro —70→ de las fronteras de su casa libre» -he argues- «podrá usted amparar a los pobres que quiera, sentarles a su mesa, y proceder como le inspiren su espíritu de caridad y su amor del bien» (336; OC, V, 368). And thus Catalina finally decides that «sea mi ínsula una casa, una familia» (341; OC, V, 1870).
Any suggestion that Galdós is echoing the ideas of Tolstoy must bear in mind that Nazarín himself in the novel denies that influence. Zárate believes that the nazarista ideas are closely allied to those of Russia: «No me voy sin interrogarle sobre las concomitancias que veo entre el ideal nazarista... y el misticismo ruso... Yo veo un parentesco estrecho, una filiación directa entre aquellas y estas florescencias espiritualistas, que no son más que una manifestación más de la soberbia humana» (142; OC, V, 1811). But, he reports:
|(142-143; OC, V, 1811)|
These ideas, then, are universal, and there is no need to import mysticism into the country of Santa Teresa. Before we are convinced, however, we should recall that these words are put into the mouth of a fictional character, and that they are evidently not applicable to Galdós himself, who clearly had a deeper acquaintance with Tolstoy than is suggested by the phrase de oídas. And perhaps it is also worth noting that the argument that human feelings are not delimited by national boundaries and the attack on patriotism are themselves Tolstoyan ideas.88 These discussions must be read in the same way as the other comments upon the novel Nazarín, bearing in mind the evident intention on the part of Galdós to echo the situation which arises in Part II of Don Quixote, when the Knight comes upon Part I of his own adventures and discusses the book with other characters. To read into these speeches a definite refutation by Galdós of any Tolstoyan influence is simplistic. The reader must always be wary of Galdós's penchant for irony.
Whatever the immediate source of the contrast between the effects of Nature and of society on the individual, the main lesson of the novel is clear. However, no firm distinction is drawn between the shallow, vicious corte and the happy, innocent aldea. Catalina, at first, finds no pleasure in the country:
|(319-320; OC, V, 1863-1864)|
The problem arises, not from the town as such, but from human society: «Para conservarme en la compañía de mis hermanos, de mis hijos -continues Catalina-, tengo que transigir con las rutinas de fuera, venidas de allá, del enemigo, del mundo» (319; OC, V, 1864). The solution is, as we have seen, offered by Nazarín. —71→ The family replaces the institution, and Catalina is thus freed from the constraints of society. As Urrea puts it:
Esto no es ya un instituto religioso ni benéfico, ni aquí hay ordenanzas ni reglamentos, ni más ley que la de una familia cristiana, que vive en su propiedad. Nosotros nos gobernamos solos, y gobernamos nuestra cara ínsula.
|(353; OC, V, 1874)|
Any human institution is bound to be corrupted to a lesser or to a greater degree by the weaknesses of its founders. Ángel Guerra's asilo is an expression of his love for Leré; doña Guillermina's institution, of her desire to dominate others. In Halma, as we have seen, Catalina's desire to found an institution immediately engenders a variety of hopes in the breasts of other hopes which differ from each other in outward form, but which are all the manifestations of a deep self-love. The final answer given in the novel to the problem of those who wish to found such an institution is that charity begins, not with a Home, but at home.
Finally, let us look again at Pereda and Pardo Bazán. Galdós clearly eschews the Zolaesque belief that Nature is a corrupting influence; for those who open their eyes and try to see clearly, it can point to higher things. But a rural society as such is not necessarily better than an urban way of life. Madrid may be the epitome of what is wrong with society, a construction of metaphors, like Lorca's New York, as well as a realistic representation of the nineteenth-century capital, but in this novel Galdós draws no contrasting picture of a patriarchal don Celso, surrounded by admiring and acquiescent peasants, healthy, honest and pious. To find himself man must escape, but escape from his own prejudices and hope to arrive at an intuitive understanding of and relationship with his fellow men. He must become not only a Bobby Burns, singing happily at the plough-handle and conscious of the lessons which Nature can teach to Man, he must also return again to his childhood innocence, to that lost Eden which is somewhere deep down within us all.
Westfield College London