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ArribaAbajo'Un cuadri enio galdosiano': an Omnibus Report of Books on Galdós Published Between the Years 1980 and 1983206

Peter A. Bly

In my first omnibus report207 I concluded that the triennium 1977-1979 had seen the publication of a substantial number of books on Galdós in whole or in part, but that perhaps their overall quality did not match their impressive number -twenty-four. The figure for the four subsequent years, of books now totally dedicated to Galdós' work (I have omitted partial studies) -thirty-five- is not only greater, but comprises studies covering a greater range of Galdós' opus. To what can we attribute this continuing success in Galdós studies? There is no doubt that like all growth industries galdosismo is propelled in part by the career ambitions of its manufacturers. Both in tenure and promotion cases, the fact that the candidate has published a book on Galdós inevitably carries considerable weight. Furthermore, at a time when a great number of academic presses around the world are experiencing severe financial difficulties, it is a matter of some wonderment that galdosistas seem to have no trouble in getting their manuscripts accepted for publication by reputable houses. But all commercial and professional interests aside, the continuing high number of published Galdós manuscripts must stand as visible proof that Galdós' oeuvre, because of its inherently high quality, still attracts the concentrated and increasingly analytical attention of a sizeable band of scholars in a great number of countries.

About fifteen years ago, John E. Varey drew up a heavy agenda for further research in Galdós studies:

We are still in the process of breaking down Galdós's work into its constituent elements, and some time must elapse before a full and considered study of the novelist, which takes into account the results of the new criticism, emerges. Before that is possible, much remains to be done. We need a more comprehensive and more sensitive biography. We need an edition of the novelist's correspondence, with letters and replies. We need a truly complete critical edition of the Obras completas, including all the journalistic writings as well as the novels, short stories, plays and criticism. We need a deeper study of the element of fantasy in Galdós's novels; a study of the evolution of his ideas on charity; a study of the emergence of nonrational philosophical attitudes; a full study of his attitude to Romanticism. Galdós's plays still await their critic. These needs spring to mind, and there are others which will no doubt readily occur to students of the nineteenth-century Spanish novel. There is indeed much to be done; and the most urgent task of all is the collection of biographical and bibliographical data and the preparation of reliable variant-reading editions.208

It is the measure of John Varey's percipience that this tall order is only gradually being met: some of the studies in our quadrennium address themselves to one or two of these areas, while others tackle topics Varey did not   —132→   itemize. A minority of out thirty-five studies represents reprintings of earlier separate studies, but even here some surprisingly fresh and original results have been obtained. It would be churlish not to expect some variance of quality in this four-year miscellany, and clearly not all the studies deserved publication in their totality. But in all every galdosista will find insights of value, even if they are morsels.

*  *  *

a) Bibliography

In such a growth industry, as Galdós studies, it is essential that researchers keep abreast of the latest studies by their colleagues, and that they have at their disposal the means to do this. Therefore, regular annotated bibliographical compilations are an important tool that galdosistas are demanding with increasing eagerness. Those provided by the Publication of the Modern Language Association of America and the Year's Work in Modern Language Studies, because of the imposed constraints of time and space, can only claim to be rapid inventories of names and titles with the odd brief content guide. In the early days of Anales galdosianos, Hernández Suárez would often provide a comprehensive list of all kinds of works on Galdós. In recent years these bibliographical section have not been missed as much as they might have been because of the publications of Hensley C. Woodbridge. His most recent catalogue, Benito Pérez Galdós: an Annotated Bibliography for 1975-1980, Watertown, Mass., General Microfilm, 1981, is a supplement to his earlier book, which it follows in general format and approach, with only minor modifications. Indispensable a research tool that this supplement is (and Woodbridge has shown an impressive single-mindedness in tracking down some entries), it possesses some shortcomings which need to be borne in mind. The volume is annotated, often at some length, but this does not necessarily mean that the compiler's words are always helpful, for he is prone to extracting the opening or closing comments of the work in question without offering his own survey of the contents. For the most part reluctant to go a step further and add his own critical comments, Woodbridge, when he does venture forth, offers evaluations that are of the most general and guarded nature. And to just say that such and such a work is the fullest or best treatment to date, without relating it more scientifically or fully to its predecessors, does not strike me as very helpful to the galdosista.

b) Biography

Sebastián de la Nuez, *Galdós (1843-1920), Las Palmas, 1983, Excelentísimo Cabildo Insular.

c) Manuscripts and Editions

In the last year of out quadrennium there has been a veritable flood of editions of Galdós novels. Porrúa of Mexico City has published: *El amigo   —133→   Manso, edited by Joaquín Casalduero, *La desheredada, edited by José María Salaverría and *La Fontana de Oro. In Spain, Cátedra of Madrid have brought out *La de Bringas, edited by A. Blanco and C. Blanco Aguinaga, *Fortunata y Jacinta, edited by Francisco Caudet, and *Trafalgar, edited by Julio Rodríguez Puértolas. Rodolfo Cardona's edition of Doña Perfecta for the same publishers is particularly interesting for the many variant readings it appends, mostly the work of Galdós himself when he revised the work for the 1902 edition. As with Joaquín Casalduero's new edition of Marianela and Luciano García Lorenzo's new edition of Misericordia for the same publishing house in 1983, introductory sections of analysis are revisions of earlier studies. This plethora of new editions obviously underlines the marketability of Galdós for modern audiences, but despite the welcome critical apparatus, these editions, with the exception of Cardona's, do not set out to establish a definitive text for the work in question, or even to make comparisons with earlier editions or the original manuscript. Accessibility to the complete range of materials is, of course, the fundamental difficulty for aspiring editors. To this extent, then, the absence of reliable texts, identified by Varey above, continues to represent a serious obstacle to the definitive establishment of the Galdós corpus.

Nevertheless, there has been some important progress on this front. Alan Smith's Cátedra edition of Rosalía in 1983 is a major event in Galdós studies, since it is the first edition ever of a work which until very recently was unknown to Galdós scholars. Walter Pattison first discovered a part of this aborted manuscript on the back of some of the sheets of the manuscript of Gloria. Then in 1979, Smith came across a whole lot more (but not all) on the back of sheets for some of the second series episodios. The real merit of Smith's introduction or rather epilogue lies not so much in the highlighting of the work's major features (like the conflicting folletinesque and popular styles, the experimentation with multiple narrative voices, or the importance of the Madrid setting), as in the view he offers us of Galdós the creative artist at work at various stages on the manuscript of a not so successful novel, and above all his constant searching for a more expressive literary language.

This is precisely the conclusion reached by James Whiston in his study, The Early Stages of Composition of Galdós's 'Lo prohibido', Támesis, London, 1983, which is basically a reproduction of some of Galdós' three manuscript drafts of this later two-volume novel, with blocks of commentary and skilful collation of passages from the respective «borradores». In his constant expansion of material from one draft to another, Galdós was always striving for idiomatic naturalness and deepening the characterization (especially that of the narrator and Carrillo). The constant rewriting, especially of the first part of the novel, gives the lie to the old myth that novels flowed effortlessly from Galdós' pen.

Víctor Fuentes, Galdós demócrata y republicano (escritos y discursos 1907-1913), Tenerife, Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria and la Universidad de La Laguna, 1982, was not faced with these paleographic problems, but his book constitutes another important contribution to the establishment of the definitive corpus of Galdós' writings, for he reproduces some hitherto   —134→   unpublished political speeches and articles from the period of Galdós' greatest political activity. A few of the others have already been published by Antón del Olmet and García Carrafa as well as by Benito Madariaga. In his running summary of the background events Fuentes is well aware of the strongly rhetorical tone of these words from Galdós, but unlike Berkowitz, he is prepared to accept them as genuine sentiments of a Republican idealist who had a vision of a new Spain.

Galdós, periodista, Madrid, Banco de Crédito Industrial, 1982, is a handsome, de luxe edition that will look well in its owners' bookcase. But given the fact that in recent years all but and isolated few of these articles have been published by other people, the value of the collection is perhaps not as high as was hoped. Certainly the haphazard arrangement of the photographed articles (some of which are illegible) does not allow ready use by the researcher.

A far more welcome edition of Galdós' political articles is Brian J, Dendle's and Joseph Schraibman's Los artículos políticos en la Revista de España, 1871-1872, Lexington, Kentucky, 1982, hitherto only accessible in the individual numbers of the journal. A sensitive introduction charts Galdós' relationship with the publication and its editor, and his growing disillusionment with the contemporary political situation.

d) Reference

William H. Shoemaker, The Novelistic Art of Galdós, Valencia, Albatros/ Hispanófila, 1980-82, is a three-volume survey of Galdós' entire opus for the general English reader. With copious bibliographical notes, plot summaries and resumes of the critics, all mechanically arranged into a set pattern, Shoemaker attempts to catalogue the salient thematic and stylistic aspects. For galdosistas, if not for indolent undergraduates, the value of the compilation will be diminished by the almost complete absence of references to recent critical works, the lack of any penetrating criticism or sense of proportion about the relative importance of the miscellany of features reported.

e) Panoramic Surveys

In its attempt to cover the whole range of Galdós' work, Stephen Miller's El mundo de Galdós. Teoría, tradición y evolución creativa del pensamiento socio-literario galdosiano, Santander, Sociedad Menéndez Pelayo, 1983, is following, wittingly, in the footsteps of Joaquín Casalduero, especially in the chronological divisions. Nonetheless, Miller makes two original points of his own: first, he insists upon the significance of two important theoretical essays by Galdós (the 1870 «Observaciones» article and his 1897 Real Academia speech) for the changes in his narrative strategies. Secondly, he firmly believes that Galdós has to be fitted into the indigenous Spanish Realist tradition (as well as the European parent strand), as exemplified by such predecessors as Moratín, Ramón de la Cruz and, especially Ruiz de Aguilera.

Less ambitious in scope is Jacques Beyrie's verbose three-volume Galdós et son mythe, Université de Lille, III, 1980, which covers only the first   —135→   thirty-six years of Galdós' life and work. Considerable, often excessive, attention is accorded the well-known biographical details as well as the historical and cultural background; but this is not totally accidental for Beyrie's thesis is that Galdós' work has to be interpreted in the light of his life's experiences, particularly the most traumatic ones: his aborted relationship with Sisita, and later, the loss of his illusions in the aftermath of the 1868 Revolution. In the last analysis, though, speculation has to take over when the facts are not there to prove the thesis. Perhaps the value of Beyrie's mammoth work lies, like Shoemaker's, in its compilation of previous studies by other critics, but original perceptive observations occasionally peep through the welter of detail.

The period covered by Stephen Gilman's Galdós and the Art of the European Novel 1867-1887, Princeton University Press, 1981, extends to the major novels composed by Galdós. The study is essentially a collection of essays published over the last four decades, and yet at the same time, it is a new book, unquestionably the most thoughtful and fluent in English hitherto published, for Gilman has pieced together and deepened his previous work so as to explain the crowning achievement that is represented by Fortunata y Jacinta. All of Galdós' prior novels are seen as experiments in different narrative strategies: the reconciliation of the flow of history and its meaning for contemporary society achieved in La desheredada is now superseded by the ahistoricism of Fortunata. Essential to this final development was Galdós' cataclysmic reading-encounter with La regenta which triggered in Galdós' very retentive mind memories of other novelistic voices (mostly European).

María Pilar Aparici Llanas, *Las novelas de tesis de Benito Pérez Galdós, Barcelona, C.S.I.C., 1982.

f) Themes

After the pioneering general surveys by Eoff, Gullón and Casalduero, monographic studies on hitherto generally treated themes are now appearing with some regularity.

Alicia Andreu, Galdós y la literatura popular, Madrid, SGEL, 1982, places the figures of Isidora Rufete and Amparo Sánchez Emperador within the tradition of the Virtuous Woman, as presented by the popular consumer journals for women in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Clearly Galdós is parodying the pretensions of this stereotype folletín figure in his two protagonists. But then Andreu spoils her argument by saying that Galdós really joins hands with the hack journalists when he condemns both to a life of immorality for their cardinal sin of ambition.

The theme of history is especially prominent in Galdós' fiction, but, surprisingly, apart from isolated monographs, very little attention has been devoted to the theme in the serie contemporánea. This omission I have tried to rectify in my Galdós's Novel of the Historical Imagination: a Study of the Contemporary Novels, Francis Cairns, Liverpool, 1983. My basic point is that in these social novels Galdós interspersed relevant blocks of contemporary historical details which, when pieced together by the attentive reader, form a coherent layer of allegorical meaning. This is particularly true of the   —136→   novels between 1881 and 1887. After Miau this type of imaginative allegory is diluted, reverting in the final novels to the more traditional forms. This additional interpretative perspective depends considerably upon the subjective perception of the individual reader.

Robert Kirsner, Veinte años de matrimonio en la novela de Galdós, East Chester, New York, Eliseo Torres, 1983, has selected a theme of intriguing interest in Galdós' work, especially prominent in the novels up to Fortunata y Jacinta. His findings, somewhat predictable, are that Galdós' treatment of his topic was sensitive, if at times ambivalent.

Traditional themes are re-examined by José Luis Mora García, Hombre, sociedad y religión en la novelística galdosiana (1885-1905), Universidad de Salamanca and Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, 1981, particularly in relation to two of the later novels, Ángel Guerra and Misericordia. Extensive quotations from primary and secondary sources obscure the presentation of his thesis, which is that Galdós's fiction deals with Man's ultimately frustrated attempt at self-realization and perfection within a hostile society.

The theme treated by Diane F. Urey, Galdós and the Irony of Language, Cambridge University Press, 1982, is extremely rich since it is central to the whole of Galdós' mode of narration. Wisely, she limits discussion and examples: there is the irony of portraiture (Rosalía Bringas and Isidora Rufete), the irony of introductions (a particularly well-done section) (in La de Bringas, Torquemada en la hoguera, Nazarín and Misericordia) and the irony of the novelistic voice (in El amigo Manso, La de Bringas, Lo prohibido and La incógnita). The ultimate irony, of course, is the illusory nature of narrative language itself, which, essentially, forces the reader to question accepted views of reality. Urey's dense, word-by-word analyses of the selected passages do not allow her to cover all the territory which she readily leaves to others after her. Odd references to the creed of semiotics appear more like fancy trimmings than anything else.

g) Collected articles

Gilman's collection of former articles (see above) was atypical in its agglutination and revision. More usual in this field is the example offered by Ignacio Elizalde, Pérez Galdós y su novelística, Universidad de Deusto, 1981, where new articles jostle alongside others published before. The danger inherent in such a miscellany is that very often there is little connection between the topics or works treated in the individual articles. The index of Elizalde's volume makes this very clear: the theme of priests and jesuits is followed by studies of individual novels, blocks of biographical commentary, discussion of Galdós theory of the novel and the question of European influences, all of which are topics that have surfaced in works by other critics.

Variety, if now moderated, is the hallmark of Thomas R. Franz's Remaking Reality in Galdós: a Writer's Interactions With His Context, Athens, Ohio, Strathmore Press, 1982, which, after some initial waffling on structuralism, contains four unconnected studies. The first, on the interacting cycles of fantasy and matter in Misericordia, is followed by a far more original and intriguing study of the possible real live sources for Nazarín and   —137→   Belmonte (Rousseau and Tolstoy, respectively). Further detective work is evident in his study of the source of Niebla's Paparrigópulos (Cayetano in Doña Perfecta). Franz's final study is a collation of parallels between La incógnita and Pepita Jiménez.

h) Individual Novels

From the wide panoramic sweep of general or collected studies, we move to the opposite extreme of the densely detailed monographs on individual works. The format of Grant and Cutler's Critical Guides series is ideal in this regard. In Pérez Galdós: La de Bringas, 1981, I attempted to arrange my assessment of the salient aspects of the novel, along with previous critical opinion, in a pattern of gradual revelation, for this novel is a kind of Chinesse-box of ever-deepening meaning, with the iconographical description of chapter I serving as a symbol of the text's meaning and mode. Thus there is a progression from my introductory observations on La de Bringas' critical reception, the problem perspective, to such aspects as the setting, characters, uses of language and finally, narrative voices.

Pedro Ortiz Armengol, *De cómo llegó a Inglaterra y a quién y a dónde el primer ejemplar de Fortunata y Jacinta enviado por el autor, London, 1981.

Ángel Tarrio, *Lectura semiológica de Fortunata y Jacinta, Las Palmas, Excmo. Cabildo Insular, 1982.

i) The «Episodios nacionales»

By and large, the episodios of the last three series have not received as much individualized attention as those of the first two. Brian J. Dendle's Galdós: The Mature Thought, Lexington, University of Kentucky Press, 1980, goes a long way to redress the imbalance, with detailed analyses of each episodio. But the arresting feature of the study is Dendle's correlation of the history chronicled in these novels with the real historical events that were happening as Galdós wrote. In fact, the latter dictate the choice of the former, so that the third series can be seen as an allegorical commentary on the Desastre on 1898. The final series also has to be interpreted in the light of Galdós' militant republicanism of the period. The fourth series is the only series not capable of this parallelism. But throughout all twenty-six episodios Galdós relentlessly attacks the spiritual and moral defects of his compatriots, as Dendle never tires of reminding us. The real highlight of the study is, however, the conclusion with its thought-provoking examination, certainly the best to date, of Galdós' position as a historical novelist.

J. A. Ferrer Benimeli, *La masonería en los episodios nacionales de Pérez Galdós, Madrid, 1982.

j) Theatre

Despite the number of plays he wrote and his constant participation in Spanish theatrical life from 1890 to 1920, Galdós the dramatist has not   —138→   received the attention he merits. Stanley Finkenthal's El teatro de Galdós, Madrid, Fundamentos, 1980, represents an initial attempt to fill this gap. Using Lukács' «The Sociology of the Modern Drama» as a starting point, Finkenthal sets out to interpret Galdós' plays first as reflections of the contemporary social scene, and then as attempts to revolutionize the Spanish stage, according to the criteria Galdós held as a theatre critic. Perhaps the two most interesting aspects of the book are the discussion of some of the manuscripts, and the determination of the pivotal role that Electra played in the reception of his drama.

*Theodore H. Sackett, Galdós y las máscaras: historia, teatro y bibliografía anotados, Verona, Padua University, 1982.


Galdós studies continue to flourish. Ineluctably, there is some repetition of earlier work, and some false, even trivial, directions are taken. But for the most part these thirty-five books, all entirely devoted to Galdós' work, are the result of sensitive readings of the primary texts, and certainly demarcate new areas of critical attention for galdosistas.

Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

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