The Tribune of the People

The Tribune of the People

The Tribune of the People

The Tribune of the People


This early novel of Emilia Pardo Bazan is her most Naturalistic work in the manner of the French movement, and is also her most outspoken statement of her feminist point of view.



IN ONE OF THE FEW BOOKS DEALING WITH THE LIFE OF SPANISH women during the latter part of the nineteenth century, María Laffitte, Countess of Campo Alange, writes, “there has never been anything in Spain that compared to the aggressive and heroic impulse of the British suffragists. Our feminism never came to form what may be called a movement and was always expressed with some sense of shame.” Although recent studies have found ample evidence of change in the twentieth century, especially during the years following the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, the sense of isolation and despair of an earlier era must impress us in any evaluation of the struggles and contributions of Emilia Pardo Bazán. “Resignation,” adds Laffitte, “was the dominant characteristic of our women. There were, of course, the likes of Concepción Arenal, Emilia Pardo Bazán…. But they seemed to be shouting in a desert.” A paper by this exceptional woman, Concepción Arenal, was read at a Pedagogical Convention in Madrid in 1892, in which she said:

It is a grave error, and one of the most prejudicial, to inculcate in a
woman that her only mission is that of a wife and mother…. The
first thing a woman needs is to affirm her personality, independent
of her status, and to persuade herself that single, married or wid
owed, she has duties to fulfill, rights to claim, dignity that does not
depend on anyone, a task to realize, and an idea that life is serious
and earnest, and that if she accepts it as a game, she will indefectibly
come to be a toy.

The past, to which Arenal and Pardo Bazán made reference during this and other conferences on women’s rights, was exemplified by ideas promulgated in such works as The Perfect Wife by the sixteenth-century Augustinian friar and mystic Luis de León . . .

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