Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Departures from Nuptial Bliss: Conflicting Mobilities of Modern Marriage in Pardo Bazán's Un Viaje De Novios

Academic journal article Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Departures from Nuptial Bliss: Conflicting Mobilities of Modern Marriage in Pardo Bazán's Un Viaje De Novios

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article examines Emilia Pardo Bazán's novel Un viaje de novios (1881) as a critical reflection on the adoption of 'modern' marriage practices and their disruption of the prevailing gendered organization of space in late nineteenth-century Spain. As a foreign custom, the wedding trip emerged in association with 'affective marriage', which conflicted with the frequent intervention of the family and strict control on women's mobility within Spanish society. Furthermore, with its displacement and its erosion of boundaries between private and public, the wedding trip represents a liminal period within the rite of marriage that transgresses the spatial divisions and the conventions of female mobility of Western bourgeois respectability. Un viaje de novios underscores the incongruity between modern rituals like the bridal tours and an obsolete gender normativity, a contradiction paradigmatic of the coexistence of discourses of traditionalism with practices - and desires - of modernization in Pardo Bazán's Spain.

Resumen

Este artículo examina la novela de Emilia Pardo Bazán Un viaje de novios (1881) como una reflexión crítica sobre la adopción de modernas practicas matrimoniales y su alteración de la organización sexual del espacio en la España de finales del siglo XIX. Como costumbre extranjera, el viaje de novios emergió asociado con la idea de 'matrimonio por amor', que discrepaba con la frecuente intervención familiar y el estricto control de la movilidad femenina en la sociedad española. Con su desplaza- miento y su erosión de los límites entre público y privado, el viaje de novios repre- senta además, un periodo liminal dentro del rito del matrimonio que transgrede las divisiones espaciales y las convenciones de movilidad femenina de la respetabi- lidad burguesa occidental. Un viaje de novios resalta la incongruencia entre rituales modernos como los tours nupciales con una obsoleta normatividad de género, una contradicción paradigmática de la coexistencia de discursos tradicionalistas con practicas -y deseos- de modernización en la España de Pardo Bazán.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the practice of the wedding trip gained rapid popularity in Spanish society, but in the final lines of Emilia Pardo Bazán's Un viaje de novios (1881) the provincial circles of León criticize this foreign custom and blame it as a principal cause behind the dissolution of marriages:

Lo que con más empeño criticó la gente, fue ese moderno requisito del 'viaje de novios', costumbre extranjeriza y vitanda, buena sólo para engendrar disturbios y horrores de todo linaje. Sospecho que con el triste ejemplo de Lucía, tradicional- mente conservado y repetido a las niñas casaderas, en lo que resta de siglo no habrá desposados leoneses, que osen apartarse de su hogar un negro de uña, al menos en los diez primeros años de matrimonio. (Pardo Bazán 2003: 276)

If at the beginning of the novel, the society of León admired this modern and luxurious convention, by the end they voiced fears that these modern rituals might destroy the foundations of the Spanish family. A product of the new society of consumption, the wedding trip was imported into Spain as a symbol of status and cosmopolitanism, but the practice also entailed a wider acceptance of female mobility that posed an intrinsic contradiction to the domestic ideals of bourgeois society.

While recent studies by Michie (2006) and Penner (2009) have provided a suggestive cultural history of bridal tours in Victorian Britain and nineteenth- century North America respectively, a parallel work that examines the social meaning and impact of these journeys in the Spanish context has not yet appeared. As stated in the prologue of Un viaje de novios, Pardo Bazán intended this work to be a 'moderna novela de costumbres' (2003: 55), and I suggest, the novel represents a crucial text for the analysis of the assimilation of 'moder- nity rituals' like the wedding trips in Spanish society. …

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