Selecciona una palabra y presiona la tecla d para obtener su definición.
Anterior Indice Siguiente


ArribaAbajo The Narrator/Reader Relationship in Torquemada, or How to Read a Galdosian Novel

Paula W. Shirley

Describing the relationship between reader and author in the eighteenth-century novel, Wolfgang Iser has said that the reader «must... be gently guided by indications in the text, though he must never have the feeling that the author wants to lead him by the nose. If he responds as the author wants him to, then he will play the part assigned to him, and in order to elicit the correct response, the author has certain strategems at his disposal»132. One of the stratagems most often observed in the novelas contemporáneas of Pérez Galdós is the ironic narrative voice. Implicit or explicit, it is a strategy designed to keep the reader from complacency, while educating him «not to be too self-assured, not to believe everything he reads, and not to give too much credence to his own powers of objectivity»133. No passive receptacle of narrative discourse, the astute reader of Galdós is aware of his role in the realist structure, which is actually a game whose goal is to undermine the literary «rules» by which it is played. The narrative voice not only directs the reading but also reveals social codes which exist outside the novel, thereby challenging the reader to question those codes and himself in the process.

In a Galdosian novel the narrator's presence is signaled by numerous linguistic devices: for example, free indirect style, metaphorical language, asides, and irony. Occasionally the narrator's presence takes an ontological turn, thereby making the novelistic fabric more dense: he asserts his existence. This existence may seem tenuous at times, with the narrator appearing now and then to remind us that he is still a concerned party in the discourse, or he may be a full-fledged character, telling us a story «from the inside». How the narrator manipulates the discourse -in other words, how he manipulates the reader- determines the nature of the work and our response to it134.

Extensive analysis of the narrator/character in the contemporary novels has contributed significantly to our understanding of the narrator/reader interplay, particularly with regard to irony as a dominant narrative attitude. But, as Engler points out in her discussion of reliable and unreliable narrators in Galdós:

Only two of Galdós' narrators (of the novelas contemporáneas) are, strictly speaking, «first-person» narrators: José María Bueno de Guzmán, the cynical aristocrat of Lo prohibido, and Máximo Manso, the timid professor of El amigo Manso. Both novels are written in the form of memoirs in which the narrator and the central character are the same. As such, they cannot possibly present the ample, rich and varied view of reality presented by the observer narrators of the other novels. But, on the other hand, they are ideally suited to a study of the whole problem of the relationship of the teller and the tale, the ways in which the narrator influences the reader's perception of reality, for the basic problem is greatly exaggerated by the narrator's very unreliability. It is no coincidence that Galdós chose these two novels narrated by «first-person» unreliable narrators to examine a question so basic to his craft135.


Engler's analysis is astute, but I would mitigate the emphasis she places on the use of the narrator/character, particularly regarding the narrator/reader relationship. Galdós employed many narrative means of examining his craft in addition to unreliable first-person narrators. Shifting narrative voices, so often encountered in the novelas contemporáneas, keep the reader alert to the game of fiction, causing him to question the «reality» which is presented to him. Intrusive narrators who are not principal characters also may invoke our participation in the discourse, challenging us with moral and social commentary, ironic character portrayal and language, as well as references to the storytelling activity itself136.

The Torquemada series presents the Galdós critic with a treasure trove of narrative devices137. An investigation into the effects of the narrator's intrusions in the Torquemada novels enriches our appreciation of the narrators' roles in the entire Serie contemporánea and particularly of the interrelationship between narrator and reader. More important, however, is that such an investigation reveals a narrative system which illuminates the entire structure of the series and the various codes which it invokes.

As an introduction to the study of the narrative voices in the Torquemada novels, Francisco Ayala's «Los narradores en las novelas de Torquemada» is helpful. However, it rarely goes below the surface to explore the full effects of the narrative strategies we observe in this series. Ayala sums up his view of Galdós' narrative technique by asserting that «Esa gran pluralidad de perspectivas que, según hemos comprobado, usa Galdós en su narración tiene por objeto proyectar sobre su asunto puntos de vista diversos, enriqueciendo poderosamente la ilusión de realidad, y muestra cuán fecundos han sido los frutos de la lección cervantina en la obra de su madurez de novelista»138. Earlier in the same article Ayala points out that one of the characteristics of the modern novel is its inclusion of diverse narrative perspectives, a diversity that, in imitation of what human life itself presents, generates ambiguity. In this regard Ayala grasps the effects of Galdós' novelistic genius when he indicates that the relationship between verisimilitude and reality is an artistic one which can be controlled to produce very «real» unsettling effects.

In the Torquemada quartet, narrative presentation changes often and in mid-stride, ranging from dramatized scenes with little or no commentary where the narrator is all but invisible to expositional passages with condensed information and generalizing commentary where the narrator's hand is clearly present. Narration vacillates between omniscient and limited first person, the first-person narrator often being an observer/character139. The functions of the intrusive narrator may be sketched as follows:

1. The narrator, dramatized by his use of «yo», functions as the organizer of the story, at times commenting on or simply signaling his expositional choices or purpose. For example, «De esto hablaré más adelante»140 and «Vamos a otra cosa» (I, 12). In this function it is the power of the narrator as titiritero that is clearly demonstrated. He indicates his dominion over the reader by making decisions he alone can make but nods in the reader's direction by including him in the expositional movement. This technique   —79→   appears to place the reader in a privileged position within the narrative enterprise.

2. At times the narrator is a character in the novel but always remains a mere observer who does not have any «measurable effect on the course of events»141. He may witness events, thereby providing an «I saw it with my own eyes» account, or he may serve as a conduit for knowledge he has gleaned from various sources, repeating information for the reader's benefit. This latter activity sometimes depends on other storytellers and further distances the reader from events. For example, in describing Torquemada's son Valentín, the narrator says: «Contáronme que en su casa daba muy poco que hacer» (I, 16).

3. The function of the narrator as interpreter, through his commentary, is one of his most interesting roles for its potentially ironic cadences. Comments range from criticisms of rhetorical style to moral judgments. The reader's role here is complex, with commentary forcing him to use his judgment to evaluate, while the commentary itself restricts the reader's evaluation and sets limits on what it provokes.

The beginning of Torquemada en la hoguera contains the first indications of the narrator's attitude toward his reader and of the irony which will largely determine the reality created in the reading of the text. The opening sentences invite the reader into the text with an ancient narrative convention, the exordium: «Voy a contar cómo...» (I, 7). The initial utterance announces the act of telling, the narrator's «I» (yo) implying the receiver's «you». The outcome of the story is not in question, since what we are going to be told is «cómo fue al quemadero el inhumano» (I, 7). Clearly, the text -if trust the announced intention of the narrator- will concern itself with a process, with how something came to pass. The primary focus of the narration, then, will be the narrating instance itself. The reader is confronted with a horror to which he would be expected to respond in a prescribed way: «Voy a contar cómo fue al quemadero el inhumano que tantas vidas infelices consumió en llamas; que a unos les traspasó los hígados con un hierro candente; a otros les puso en cazuela bien mechados, y a los demás los achicharró por partes, a fuego lento, con rebuscada y metódica saña» (I, 7). But an ambiguous dimension within the narrative undercuts this response: «Voy a contar cómo vino el fiero sayón a ser víctima; cómo los odios que provocó se le volvieron lástima, y las nubes de maldiciones arrojaron sobre él lluvia de piedad; caso patético, caso muy ejemplar, señores, digno de contarse para enseñanza de todos, aviso de condenados y escarmiento de inquisidores» (I, 7)142.

The vitriolic first sentence presents the nature of the protagonist as heartless, indeed sadistic («los achicharró por partes, a fuego lento, con rebuscada y metódica saña»). The second sentence, which begins by stating that the fierce protagonist will become a victim, proceeds to point out that the «fiero sayón» will encounter «lástima» and «piedad». A tension is immediately created here which will not be abandoned through the course of the four-part novel: the victimizer, by becoming a victim, will invoke our pity. This is the principal thematic tension and also the most humanizing function of Torquemada because it probes the reader's capacity for charity. Ironically, the pity   —80→   in question will be for the usurer, not his «victims». Underlying this irony is an even greater one which the reader will recognize only in retrospect, once he knows much more about Torquemada's world -Madrid society. The full force of the irony will not emerge until the end of the fourth part, when Torquemada becomes as much prey as predator, as much used as user.

Next, the narrative voice goes on to say: «Mis amigos conocen ya, de lo que se me antojó referirles, a don Francisco de Torquemada, a quien algunos historiadores inéditos de estos tiempos llaman Torquemada el Peor. ¡Ay de mis buenos lectores si conocen al implacable fogonero de vidas y haciendas por tratos de otra clase, no tan sin malicia, no tan desinteresados como estas inocentes relaciones entre narrador y lector!» (I, 7-8). The narrator has pointed out two, possibly three means by which the reader might know Torquemada: first, by what he has heard of the miser from the writer he is at present reading; second, by first-hand contact, as a client of the moneylender; third, by what other historiadores, although inéditos, have said about him. This web of relationships that the narrator describes has the immediate effect of making Torquemada sound like a real person, but the reader must be cautious of the teller of the tale. If the reader knows of Torquemada from the narrator's other works of fiction, then the acquaintance is a literary one and is simply being underlined. And if the reader knows Torquemada from personal dealings, then the reader must be a character in the novel we are reading, or in one where Torquemada has previously appeared, because the narrator has fictionalized him in this passage143. Again, the acquaintance is a literary one. And what of the unpublished historians who have given Torquemada a nickname? It seems as if the narrator wants to suggest that this story is the one worthy of being brought to light, the true one which deserves to be read. In all three cases, the relationships described are literary, writer/reader relationships. In this dazzling opening passage, among the most compelling in literature surely, the narrator has made every effort to suggest that his story is a true one, all the while making it clear that we are reading a fiction, a lie. He makes one further move, a highly ironic one, which is to describe the debtors (who may be reading the novel), who have fallen under Torquemada's sway: they are an assortment of scoundrels, social climbers, poor widows, unemployed civil servants and several other types who have not solved the «problema aritmético en que se funda la existencia social...» (I, 8). If the reader is one of Torquemada's clients, he has been ironized already.

Another salient feature of the introduction to the novel is the stated purpose of the telling: that the story will serve as a model and a warning: «caso muy ejemplar, señores, digno de contarse para enseñanza de todos, aviso de condenados y escarmiento de inquisidores». The exordium provides a moral context for the novel and the stage for a tale of wrongdoing and retribution, crime and punishment. The tale will teach the reader a lesson. But what lesson is to be taught? The suggestion of this passage is that the storyteller will communicate a moral which will be clear and helpful to the reader. But no such clear moral emerges from the discourse. The mock-epic tone of the exordium, followed by a description of the bourgeois social context of the novel, suggests that it may be a mistake to expect an unambiguous moral. As the story unfolds, the inhumano proves to be quite humano after all, and many of the individuals who   —81→   are apparently charitable and generous turn out not to be so. This parody of the exemplum is the first test by the narrative voice of the reader's perception. By linking the moral and social contexts in the beginning of the work, the narrator establishes a significant thematic bond between them and includes the fictionalized reader in this relationship. It is important for the reader to bear this liaison in mind throughout the reading experience. The literary process which is set in motion evokes the unwary reader's innocent confidence in the storyteller (remember «estas inocentes relaciones entre narrador y lector»?), while it evokes a cautious attitude in the more sophisticated reader. Diane Urey describes this process aptly:

The «inocentes relaciones» are not that at all; all statements, even individual words, are potentially misleading, especially the narrator's direct remarks to the reader. The reader may be deceived if he is not continually on guard for this ironic vraisemblance, These counterposed meanings appear at many levels of the text: in a word, in a symbolic allusion, in a sentence, in a portrait, in an historical account, and in all the literary and cultural codes which traverse the text. Finally, the traditional concept of moral exemplarity is manipulated. This novel has less to do with constructing a perfect moral exemplum than with identifying the conventions of reading which govern the texts of novel, society, and self144.

The narrator's function as puppeteer draws attention to the storytelling itself, while at the same time it appears to privilege the reader who is being informed of expositional choices and decisions. The narrator casts himself as a well-organized storyteller who moves his story along in the only possible way: logically. He opens the third section of Torquemada en la hoguera by expressing a discursive urgency:

Basta de matemáticas, digo yo ahora, pues me urge apuntar que Torquemada vivía en la misma casa de la calle de Tudescos donde le conocimos cuando fue a verle la de Bringas para pedirle no recuerdo qué favor, allá por el 68, y tengo prisa por presentar a cierto sujeto que conozco hace tiempo y que hasta ahora nunca menté para nada: un don José Bailón, que iba todas las noches a la casa de nuestro don Francisco a jugar con él la partida de damas o de mus, y cuya intervención en mi cuento es necesaria ya para que se desarrolle con lógica.

(1, 20)                

Beginning with a hint that he might bore the reader if he continues the discussion of Valentín which precedes this passage, the narrator presents two pieces of information that separately would interest us but which are endowed with considerably more significance because of their juxtaposition: that Torquemada still lives in the house where la de Bringas went to visit him in order to ask some favor and that it is now necessary to introduce another character, Bailón, in order that this story might develop logically. Why the urgency to point out that Torquemada still lives in the house where another fictional character visited him? And why is it necessary to present Bailón right now? What the narrator accomplishes here is to prompt the reader to make an independent inference from apparently unrelated information. It does not really matter what house Torquemada is living in, but it does indeed matter that the narrator chooses to remind us of other fictional characters we may have met before in other novels. The reader is forced to remember that he is still in a world created by the voice that is speaking to him, the voice which has the power to give life to characters, to bring them back from other works and   —82→   let them live again, or to forget them, thereby consigning them to death. And the expositional urgency is another kind of reminder that the narrative voice is in control and that it creates the logic of a work. After all, there is no special logic to introducing Bailón now instead of before or later on. Commenting on a similar passage from Diderot's self-conscious work, Jacques le fataliste, Tzvetan Todorov explains that

The narrative's freedom is limited by the internal requirements of the book itself, in other words by its participation in a genre. If the work belonged to another genre, the requirements would have been different. At the same time, even as he openly asserts that the narrative obeys its own economy, its own function, Diderot feels the need to add: what I write is the truth; if I choose this development rather than some other, it is because the events I am relating actually occurred in this way. He must disguise freedom as necessity, the relation to writing as a relation to reality made all the more ambiguous (but also more convincing) by the preceding declaration145.

Following Diderot's and Todorov's lead, we may conclude that the verisimilitude of Galdós' presentation does not reside in its relation to reality -that Torquemada is a real person and that the events described really happened- but in its consistency with the rules of a literary genre. In the novel a narrator may claim that his story is true and he may pretend that his readers might know the protagonist he is creating for them.

Protesting the truth of the story adds to the many ironies that we expect from the puppeteer, who often feels compelled to declare his integrity and his sincerity as well as the veracity of his tale. He says, for example: «no se crea que hay la más mínima exageración» (I, 16), and again: «Aquí que no peco» (III, 378). As readers of Galdós are aware, affirmations of sincerity may appear in ironic contexts and cause even deeper ambiguity. What can we believe? The narrator's presence advances the ambiguous nature of the narrative and all we can be sure of is that the novel is fiction.

And why does the narrator profess ignorance on select occasions when most of the time he knows everyone's history, innermost thoughts, and what they had for breakfast: «tampoco sé el número...» (II, 75); «Pausa que duró... sabe Dios cuánto» (II, 236)? The narrator chooses obscurity over certainty on occasion to suggest that the story is as real as any story we might hear: in other words, that it might have a few holes in it. The narrator's ignorance, as much as his knowledge, creates believability and is therefore another item in the narrative bag of tricks. Philosophically, a narrative choice of obscurity over certainty suggests the difficulty of apprehending truth. The narrative is not ambiguous for any frivolous reason, or even simply for the purpose of presenting the multi-faceted nature of experience, but for the disturbing reason that it is difficult, if not impossible, to know the truth146. This dichotomy between appearance and reality is not only the hallmark of the society Galdós seeks to portray, but is also the basis of the novelistic tradition begun by the master of the genre, Cervantes. By their structure the reader is reminded that works of fiction are not mirrors that can reflect truth in its entirety, but instead reflect insights and perceptions. The reader is taught that the entire truth eludes everyone, even the narrator.

Also in the Cervantine tradition, references to other historians and chroniclers largely serve a parodic function in Torquemada. The opening section   —83→   of Torquemada en la hoguera, with its mock heroic style and mention of historiadores inéditos, establishes the fictional game the reader will see played out and in which he will be called to participate. By naming the fiction crónica, the narrative voice calls into question the convention of reading history with its assumption of impartiality and truthfulness. The narrator also keeps the reader guessing as to the believability of these crónicas and historias: «y si bien es cierto, como lo acredita la Historia...» (I, 13); «si bien consta también en las crónicas de la vecindad...» (I, 13); «(sobre este punto no hay desavenencia en las historias)...» (II, 75); «Y aquel mismo día, si no mienten las crónicas» (II, 207). Again, the search for truth is elusive and fraught with danger. The effect is not only to create doubt in the reader's mind about the omniscience of the narrator, but, more important, to force the reader to make narrative decisions. The narrator calls attention to the reader's expectations, subtly subverting the conventions of realism as the narrative mode which most closely approximates truth.

Like so many of the novelas contemporáneas, Torquemada presents stories within stories, narrative Chinese boxes which strain the reader's ability to keep them arranged «properly» within the narrative framework. In the third volume of the series, Torquemada en el purgatorio, the narrative voice delights us with a parody of social historians who are fascinated by the same characters whose lives he is describing to us. This humorously ironic treatment of Madrid's social chroniclers satirizes those who interest themselves in the social activities of the bourgeois aristocracy and at the same time impugns their reliability: «Cuenta el licenciado Juan de Madrid, cronista tan diligente como malicioso de los Dichos y hechos de don Francisco Torquemada» (III, 255); «Disiente de esta opinión otro cronista no menos grave, el Arcipreste Florián, autor de la Selva de comilonas y laberinto de tertulias» (III, 255). The only important chronicler not mentioned is the one we are reading! References to and descriptions of Madrid's cronistas might be considered self-parody, since what we are reading is in fact a narrative depicting the social rise of a usurer and his role in reestablishing the former grandeur of the Aguila family. Has the narrator actually subverted his own honesty here? I would say that he has asked the reader to judge for himself the reliability of the discourse by contrasting it with other more sensational, although fictional, works dealing with the same subject. This action suggests that the narrator is asking the reader to contrast the «primary» fiction with a «secondary» fiction, using the primary as a model. As we will see, the narrator has subtly suggested such a judgment before.

In Torquemada en la hoguera don Francisco's mentor is a defrocked priest named Bailón whose history is, to say the least, suspicious. He has pursued many lines of work, one of which was to write religious pamphlets. The narrator facetiously refers to these writings as folletos babilónicos, which are lacking in logic and, more important, leave the reader confused: «Otras veces empezaba diciendo aquello de "Joven soldado, ¿adónde vas?" Y por fin, después de mucho marear, quedábase el lector sin saber adónde iba el soldadito, como no fueran todos, autor y público, a Leganés» (I, 23). The succeeding comment, that «todo esto le parecía de perlas a don Francisco, hombre de escasa lectura» (I, 23), tests the reader's capacity to judge the very text he is   —84→   reading. The reader is provided with a model of poor writing and a model of a gullible reader, which, in the light of many other remarks about the narrative process in the text being read, suggests that the reader must beware of authors who would dupe him. When, in the highly ironic description of Madrid's cronistas, the narrator provides a sample of what they choose to write about the Aguila family and Torquemada, the reader is led to compare the works of the various writers mentioned. Again, the narrative voice provides ludicrous models of narratives, thereby suggesting that the reader compare the «primary» text's presentation of Torquemada with those of the other chroniclers.

Another narrative ploy Galdós' narrator makes use of both to guide and test the reader is commentary, a convention of the realist novel, which can be a useful interpretive instrument in producing meaning in the text as long as the need to regard it as part of the text is understood. The sophisticated reader confronting a highly ironic narrative will have to evaluate commentary carefully, but this process may help to translate an ambiguous structure. Ross Chambers has said that «what is true of commentary in general is that it is a function of the social role of literature and therefore of the existence of agreement between people (agreement about meanings and values) 'outside', of the text»147. If we regard overt commentary in the Torquemada novels as a function of social agreements, then we have a means, provided by the author, of apprehending the social values inherent in the work. Thus, when the narrator of Torquemada en la hoguera claims that social existence is founded on the arithmetic problem of money, he invites the reader to test this idea against the narrative structure as well as against his own perception of society's functioning. Occasionally the narrator speaks for himself and the reader in the first person plural, thereby underlining the agreement between the two about values «outside» the text: «Reconozcamos que en nuestra época de uniformidades y de nivelación física y moral se han desgastado los tipos genéricos y van desapareciendo, en el lento ocaso del mundo antiguo, aquellos caracteres que representaban porciones grandísimas de la familia humana, clases, grupos, categorías morales» (III, 304). The narrator posits this generalization about the society that he and his contemporary reader supposedly know, and in a tone that appears to assume agreement from said reader. The personal tone, or «buttonholing effect», involves the reader in the text, requiring him to consider whether or not he does agree with what the narrator has claimed about the world outside the text and forcing the reader to interpret the succeeding passage in light of this assertion. With this kind of portrayal of character that draws on a reality beyond the narrative and seeks confirmation inside the text, the reader becomes a social critic, testing the norms of the novel against norms external to the novel. Similarly, when Torquemada is initially presented, the narrator involves the reader in judging the effect of the protagonist's personality: «porque la adusta cara, el carácter férreo del propietario, no concordaban con la idea que tenemos del día de fiesta, del día del Señor, todo descanso y alegría» (I, 9). Iser makes the following remarks about the narrator's position: «This almost overwhelming superiority of the narrator over his characters also puts the reader in a privileged position, though with the unspoken but ever-present condition that he should draw   —85→   his own conclusions from the extra knowledge imparted to him by the narrator»148.

Throughout Torquemada the narrative voice has woven a tapestry that includes the reader in the pattern. But what shape does the narrative voice give to the novel? And how can we best characterize this relationship between narrator and reader? An observation often made about the narrative presence in the serie contemporánea is that it diminishes as the work progresses. Using the Torquemada novels as a textual basis, and regarding them as an organic whole rather than separate and only superficially connected, we discover a narrative system which explains this diminution of the narrative presence. An examination of the intrusive narrator's appearances discloses the following outline.

Torquemada en la hoguera displays the greatest number of narrative intrusions within the series; and within this volume the overwhelming majority is evident in the first half of the text. A distant omniscient narrator dramatizes the action in the second half. Then in Torquemada en la cruz the personal presence of the narrator is dispersed through the text with the comments overwhelmingly carrying an expositional function. The narrator frequently reminds the reader that he is ignorant of events or details, thereby underscoring his ironic telling of the story. In this novel we are mindful that there is a narrator -he sticks his head up occasionally to remind us- but he has withdrawn considerably since Torquemada en la hoguera.

With Torquemada en el purgatorio the overt narrative presence is again infrequent. The reader is aware of the narrative voice from time to time, but its presence is forceful only during one of the few long commentaries and in the satires of Madrid's social historians. And in most of these cases the personal «I» is implied but not used. Torquemada's rise in society is rapid and garners a great deal of narrative attention; thus, commentary of a social nature is quite in order, since the narrator must either establish or reenforce agreements about values «outside» the text with the reader. The reader's participation as a skeptical interpreter of changes within bourgeois society is called for. Failure to participate can result in the ironization of the reader, as we observe early in the novel. By the time we reach the fourth volume, Torquemada y San Pedro, the overt narrator has all but disappeared. Occasionally he refers to incomplete information; at other times he explains an expositional choice; but the presence which so dominated the first half of Torquemada en la hoguera is no longer with us. And since the first volume of the series, the narrator has never again appeared as a character.

What sort of narrative system is suggested by this diminishing narrative presence? I propose that the intention of this system is to teach the reader how to read the novel. In an ironic mode, skeptical, active reading is essential, and the intrusive narrator is present in Torquemada long enough to establish the literary norms by which we should judge the novel and participate in its realization. The narrative voice refuses to present an unwavering vision of reality, and this in itself contributes to the verisimilitude of Galdós' novelistic world; but the narrative voice can and does train the reader to a certain point of view vis-à-vis the text: that it is difficult, if not impossible, to know the truth and that fiction can only pursue it, not capture it.


The final trick in our narrator's bag is played at the very end of the novel when the narrator appears once more. This famous last scene, which has been the source of much debate among critics as to whether or not Torquemada has truly been saved, reenforces the concept of the narrator's presence as teaching the narrative system to the reader. As the witnesses to the usurer's demise try to decide if Torquemada was referring to the national debt or the conversion of his soul when he uttered the final word conversión, the narrator, who has been conspicuously absent, steps in and, referring to himself in the third person, «settles» the doubt this way:

El profano, deteniéndose medroso ante el velo impenetrable que oculta el más temido y al propio tiempo el más hermoso misterio de la existencia humana, se abstiene de expresar un fallo que sería irrespetuoso, y se limita a decir:

-Bien pudo Torquemada salvarse.

-Bien pudo condenarse.

Pero no afirma ni una cosa ni otra... ¡cuidado!

(IV, 651)                

A highly ironic ending reasserts the importance of guarding against being ironized in the reading process, as the narrator humorously refers to himself in the third person and playfully tweaks the reader's nose with the reminder that there is no final truth or reality. The importance of this passage is not ultimately the question of Torquemada's salvation, but of the reader's. This strategy serves to remind the reader that he is the final arbiter of Torquemada's spiritual fate, since he must make this determination from what he has been told and from all he has inferred.

In his discussion of another great novel of the nineteenth century, Vanity Fair, Wolfgang Iser describes Thackeray's technique: «The predominant aim is no longer to create the illusion of an objective outside reality, and the novelist is no longer concerned with projecting his own unambiguous view of the world onto his reader. Instead, his technique is to diversify his vision, in order to compel the reader to view things for himself and discover his own reality»149. Galdós forces this process largely through an ironic narrator who, much like the Manager of the Performance in Vanity Fair, guides the reader through the labyrinth of society presented in the novel, all the while teaching the literary norms that will help the reader recognize and evaluate the confusing social behavior to which he is witness. If he fully perceives the norms of the text, he will be able to create the reality suggested by the novel150.

Columbia College

Anterior Indice Siguiente