The Lion and the Eagle: Interdisciplinary Essays on German-Spanish Relations over the Centuries

By Conrad Kent; Thomas K. Wolber et al. | Go to book overview

11
CLARÍN'S KRAUSISM

Nelson R. Orringer

In memory of my teacher, Juan López-Morillas

L eopoldo Alas ( 1852-1901), the author of arguably the greatest nineteenth-century novel,1 owes much of his achievement to the post-Kantian philosopher from Saxony, Carl Christian Friedrich Krause ( 1781-1832). Yet Alas's debt has received, at most, sporadic attention. In a typical treatment, Eduard Gramberg distinguishes three epochs in Alas's own fiction: a vaguely spiritualistic period dominated by Krausism ( 1873-80); a decade in which he heatedly defends and practices literary naturalism ( 1880-90); and a return to spiritualism, but of a deeper kind than in the first period ( 1890- 1901).2 Alas's most universal work, the long novel titled La Regenta ( The Regent's Wife, 1884-85), would fall into the second period, affected as it is by Émile Zola's naturalism. But this tripartite division of Alas's writing into idealism, materialism, and a return to idealism is simplistic, involving monolithic appreciations of Krausist idealism and naturalistic materialism, as if they were mutually exclusive. Since 1985, historians of Krausism like Antonio Jiménez García have shown that in Spain that philosophy, after its importation by Julián Sanz del RíFo in 1860, evolved toward the various forms of positivism emerging from France and England in the 1870s. In the present essay, I wish to apply this new research on the history of Krausism to the aesthetics of Alas, popularly known as "Clarín." In doing so, this essay will be the first, I believe, to label Alas a Krauso-positivist. Initially, I shall examine his youthful espousal of Krausism at a time when it was merging with five

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