Realism as Resistance: Romanticism and Authorship in Galdós, Clarín, and Baroja

Realism as Resistance: Romanticism and Authorship in Galdós, Clarín, and Baroja

Realism as Resistance: Romanticism and Authorship in Galdós, Clarín, and Baroja

Realism as Resistance: Romanticism and Authorship in Galdós, Clarín, and Baroja

Synopsis

This book explores the fluid boundaries between realism and romanticism, while considering this oscillation between discourses as the legacy of the Quijote to the nineteenth-century Spanish novel. Furthermore, there are studies of characters who act as authors in Benito Perez Galdos's first series of Episodios Nacionales, Pio Baroja's La lucha por la vida, and Leopoldo Alas (Clarin)'s La Regenta. For many realists, romanticism has negative associations: quixotism, exaggeration, impracticality, and femininity or effeminacy.

Excerpt

It is as difficult … to trace the dividing-line between the real and the
romantic as to plant a milestone between north and south.

—Henry James, Preface to The American, 283

Madame Bovary, c’est moi.

—Gustave Flaubert, Letter to Amélie Bosquet

In this study of benito PÊREZ GALDÓS’S first series of episodios nacionales, Leopoldo Alas (Clarín)’s La Regenta, and Pío Baroja’s La lucha por la vida, I examine realistic novels that portray periods important to Spain’s self-definition. the novels engage the debates of their day, giving particular attention to the questions of realism vs. romantic idealism, and rationality vs. irrationality (or “quixotism”). Rather than returning to the contentions of Lovejoy and Wellek about the validity of the term “romanticism,” in this study I take my definition of romanticism from the realists, who believed that it was, simply, all that realism was not. For example, M. H. Abrams articulated the realist’s point of view in the following way: “Realistic fiction is often opposed to romantic fiction: the romance is said to present life as we would have it be, more picturesque, more adventurous, more heroic than the actual; realism, to present an accurate imitation of life as it is.” According to Walter Kaufmann, romanticism may be dismissed as “flight from the present, yearning for deliverance from the cross of the here and now, an escape into the past, preferably medieval, or the future, into drugs or other worlds, either night or twilight,” since romanticism “can face anything except the facts.” Finally, F. W. J. Hemmings detailed the stereotypes of both schools, listing generalizations relevant to the study of realism as a confrontation with romanticism:

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