Emilia Pardo Bazán’s birthplace, La Coruña, in the Galician province, is in an area of conflicting cultures, in which modern, cosmopolitan influences blend or conflict with traditional, peasant ways of life. Similarly, her intellectual life was characterized by contradiction and ambivalence: Galician provincialism and traditionalism versus enthusiasm for the latest novelties of Madrid and Paris; social ambition and a desire for public attention versus a feminist emphasis on the importance of the individual in everyday life. A child of the rapidly changing times in which she lived—the age of positivism, scientific advance, and literary revolution—she was a person of somewhat conflicting beliefs. A vigorous, healthy, and ambitious woman, she was one of the most important and outspoken of Spain’s early feminists, shocking the literary world with her promulgation of a mitigated form of French naturalism, attempting to teach at the University of Madrid, and fighting throughout her later years for membership in the Royal Spanish Academy.
A devout Roman Catholic, Pardo Bazán struggled vainly to reconcile her liberal feelings with her innate religious conservatism, her support for the Carlist cause, a distrust of democracy, and an intolerance of other forms of spiritual belief. She was an ardent expert on many facets of nature, and her happiest times were spent at her country manor in Meiras, near La Coruña.
Born and reared as the only child of well-to-do parents, Pardo Bazán had few childhood friends and associated mostly with older family acquaintances. Her father received the pontifical title of count in 1871, which she inherited in 1890, subsequently “legitimated” in 1908 by King Alfonso XIII’s bequest of the comparable Spanish title of the realm.
As a child, Pardo Bazán was a voracious reader, a habit she continued when her family began to spend winters in Madrid in 1869, where she entered a French school. When she was eleven or twelve years old, her parents returned permanently to La Coruña, where she continued her education under private tutors. In 1868, she married a young lawyer named José Quiroga, and the...
(The entire section is 887 words.)