Bazán, Emilia Pardo
Emilia Pardo Bazán 1851-1921
Spanish short story writer, novelist, essayist, and historian.
Emilia Pardo Bazán achieved fame in her time for her unconventional views concerning art. She introduced Emile Zola's naturalism to Spanish letters, although she herself rejected many of naturalism's principles. A prolific author in many genres, Pardo Bazán published over five hundred short stories during her career, in addition to twenty novels and a significant amount of nonfiction. Her works are noted for their psychological insight and realism, although their innovative artistic tenets are what have made Pardo Bazán one of the most important woman authors of pre-twentieth-century Spain.
Pardo Bazán was born on September 16, 1851, in the province of Galicia, a region treated with great passion in her works. She was born in the village of La Coruna, a coastal town that reflected cosmopolitan as well as traditional influences. Her father was given the title of Count in 1871, and her family socialized with the aristocratic elite of society. Pardo Bazán married Jose Quiroga in 1868, and later traveled with him throughout Europe, meeting many of the leading intellectual and literary figures of the day, including Victor Hugo. She gave birth to a son, Jaime, in 1876, and a daughter, Blanca, in 1879, when she also published her first novel, Pascual López. Her literary productivity accelerated, and she began publishing many works, including the influential collection of essays, La cuestion palpitante in 1882. In the 1880s Pardo Bazán wrote most of her short stories, including the collections Cuentos de Marineda, Cuentos nuevos, and Cuentos de amor. King Alfonso XIII made Pardo Bazán a Countess in 1907, and she campaigned fiercely to be included in the academic establishment of the nation. In 1910, she became Advisor of the Ministry of Education and six years later a professor at Central University of Madrid. She died on May 12, 1921 in Madrid.
Major Works of Short Fiction
The majority of Pardo Bazán's short stories were written between 1879 and 1890. A devout Catholic, her short fiction is deeply moral. At the same time, she embraced many contemporary artistic theories, which prompted widespread controversy during her life. Also controversial was her frequent usage of a male narrator. Pardo Bazán's stories are generally divided into two categories; her early tales are lively and dramatic, while her later, more psychological and often pessimistic fiction is marked by "barrenness" and "spiritual isolation," according to Porfirio Sanchez. The majority of her works focus on characters rather than action. Most concern such broad themes as love and death, although some stories delve into such daring subjects as incest.
Many critics have sought to interpret Pardo Bazán's short fiction, usually drawing from her many essays and novels for support. Others have focused on how her fiction evolved over time. The majority of critics, however, have been most interested in Pardo Bazán the woman, her contribution to Spanish literature in general, and her role in world literature in particular. According to John W. Kronik, "An insatiable intellectual curiosity and all-encompassing cosmopolitan drive that sought out—for approval or for rejection—whatever was interesting and new beyond the Pyrenees were trademarks of the Countess for which she was both praised and attacked by her contemporaries and for which subsequent critics have bestowed recognition of her."
La dama joven 1885
Insolación [Midsummer Madness] 1889; expanded edition, 1923
Cuentos escogidos 1891
Cuentos de Marineda 1892
Cuentos nuevos 1894
Arco iris 1895
Novelas ejemplares 1895
Cuentos de amor 1898
Cuentos sacro-profanos 1899
Un destripador de antaño y otros cuentos 1900
En tranvía: Cuentos dramáticos 1901
Cuentos antiguas 1902
Cuentos de la patria 1902
Cuentos de Navidad y Reyes 1902
Cuentos del terruño 1907
El fondo de alma 1907
La sirena negra (novella) 1908
Sud exprés 1909
Belcebúi Novelas breves 1912
Cuentos trágicos 1913
Cuentos de la tierra 1923
Cuadros religiosas 1925
Short Stories 1935
Pardo Bazán 1945
Las setas y otros cuentos 1988
Cuentos completos. 4 vols. 1990
Other Major Works
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SOURCE: "Emilia Pardo Bazán and the Phenomenon of French Decadentism," in Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, Vol. 81, No. 5, October, 1966, pp. 418-27.
[In the following essay, Kronik describes Pardo Bazán's acceptance of some elements of Decadentism and rejection of others.]
The fourth volume in the series of studies that Emilia Pardo Bazán had entitled La literatura francesa moderna was to bear the caption of La decadencia. In the three previous volumes the Countess had followed the evolution of the French literary process of the nineteenth century from romanticism to naturalism, and in the last she planned to gather old notes and new ideas into an analysis of end-of-the-century trends. She never brought this project to fruition, but she did leave dispersed among her many other critical writings her ideas and interpretations touching on this phenomenon that she labeled variously "la decadencia" or "el decadentismo."
Pardo Bazán did not commit herself to a specific definition of decadentism anywhere in her writings. It is clear, however, that she gave the word a broad literary base. In terms of time, she limited the apogee of decadentism to the years approximately between 1880 and 1915. Within this period, she labeled all the general literary currents as decadent, without tracing subtle dividing lines among the sundry "isms" then extant. She...
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SOURCE: "How and Why Emilia Pardo Bazan Went from the Novel to the Short Story," in Romance Notes, Vol. 11, 1969, pp. 309-14.
[In the following essay, Sanchez describes Pardo Bazán's shift in artistic focus toward short fiction.]
Emilia Pardo Bazán published her first novel, Pascual López, autobiografía de un estudiante de medicina in 1879, and her last of twenty novels, Dulce dueño in 1911. Between 1879 and 1890 she published ten of her twenty novels and only nine of over five hundred short stories. In what here will be called her second period of writing, that is from 1900 to 1919, Pardo Bazán dedicated more and more of her time each year to the short story and less to the novel. During these last years she wrote close to three hundred short stories and only four novels. The last eight years of this period were dedicated solely to the short story.
It is obvious that Emilia Pardo Bazán did go from the novel to the short story in her creative development, as her own literary production indicates, but was this change something that happened haphazardly, or was it part of her artistic growth? This is what we shall try to demonstrate here.
Emilia Pardo Bazán's novelistic and short story production demonstrate two distinct procedures. Her early works, written from 1879 to approximately 1900, parallel the practice of Galdós and Pereda, as emphasis is...
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SOURCE: "The Child as Redeemer and Victim in Pardo Bazán's Short Fiction," in Revista de Estudios Hispanicos, Vol. 11, 1977, pp. 425-32.
[In the following essay, Feeny explores the symbolic significance of children in Pardo Bazán's short fiction.]
A study of the characters in Pardo Bazán's short fiction reveals the inordinate significance she attaches to the role of the child. Repeatedly she portrays him as redeemer of man or as victim, either of society or of destiny. In an attempt to shed light on the author's particular vision of the child, I shall consider several of her many works that cast him in the role of redeemer or victim.
Through his birth, his existence, and his death will the child prove to be man's savior. In the short novel La sirena negra Gaspar, a wealthy voluptuary disillusioned with an existence he finds inane, feeds on thoughts of death. But his grim obsession fades as the young boy, Rafaelín, comes into his life. Awakening Gaspar's latent paternal instinct, the boy obliges him to become less self-concerned, to draw nearer his fellow man. That Pardo Bazán holds foster parenthood in highest regard is clear from even a cursory study of this and other writings. She addresses the subject most directly, however, in "Allende la verdad," where she states: "todo eso de la 'voz de la sangre,' forma del instinto, es una baja leyenda fisiológica; que los...
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SOURCE: "Pardo Bazán's Pessimistic View of Love as Revealed in Cuentos de amor," in Hispanofila, Vol. 64, 1978, pp. 7-14.
[In the following essay, Feeny reviews the stories collected in Pardo Bazán's Cuentos de amor.]
On examining Emilia Pardo Bazán's collection of short stories intitled Cuentos de amor, the reader might well wonder at the exceedingly grim view of love the author reveals in these tales. For although the theme of love is touched upon in nearly all of the forty-three stories, it will almost never be that of joyous or blissful love. Rather, Pardo Bazán chooses to write about love unfulfilled ("El viajero," "Más allá"); or love betrayed ("La perla rosa," "Así y todo . . . ," "Sor Aparición," "¿Justicia?"). She prefers the themes of unrequited love, treated in some depth in "El dominó verde," or aberrant love that inflicts pain and death ("A secreto agravio," "Los buenos tiempos," "Delincuente honrado"). Though there are starry-eyed lovers, they appear singly, never in pairs. Men and women are, for varying reasons, unable to make each other happy. One cannot, in fact, easily say which sex fares worse in these tales. For while Pardo displays a penchant for etching weak male characters, resounding failures in matters of the heart, she also fancies scheming women who employ their sexual allure solely for personal gain.
Despite her contention that...
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SOURCE: "Illusion and the Don Juan Theme in Pardo Bazán's Cuentos de amor," in Hispanic Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1980, pp. 67-71.
[In the essay below, Feeny explores the use of a Don Juan figure who does not take advantage of his prey in three of Pardo Bazán's short stories.]
Within Pardo Bazán's collection of short stories, Cuentos de amor, we find three very brief tales with essentially the same theme: the failure of a Don Juan figure to take advantage of possible prey. Despite this similarity of theme, in her handling of this material the author projects two rather different images of herself. Here and elsewhere in her fiction, Pardo Bazán appears torn between the tendency to approach her characters' trials and grief sentimentally and her penchant to treat them with utmost detachment and even irony. Possibly both attitudes, despite their differences, are genuine facets of her nature. In this study we shall examine and compare Pardo Bazán's varying treatments of the Don Juan in Cuentos de amor and consider how they relate to her belief in man's vital need for hope and illusion, a contention paramount to each tale.
In the first story, "La última ilusión de don Juan," sentimentality abounds. The author states in her opening paragraph that although superficial people usually insist Don Juan has no true sentiment, no sincere emotions, poets like herself...
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SOURCE: "Naturalism in the Short Fiction of Emilia Pardo Bazan," in Hispanic Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, Fall, 1981, pp. 73-85.
[In the following excerpt, Charnon-Deutsch explores the influence of Emile Zola on Pardo Bazán's short fiction.]
Naturalism was debated in Spain even before translation of Zola's works appeared, but it was not until Emilia Pardo Bazán published her controversial La cuestión palpitante (1882-83) that critics began lining up in earnest on either side of the issue which bore so many sociological and ethical overtones. The series of articles that make up La cuestión failed to convince the Spanish readership that the experimentation being carried on by Zola and his followers was of any aesthetic or moral value. What irritated Spanish readers of Zola (and a great deal of non-readers who gathered their secondhand information from periodicals) was the attitude towards determinism which the new school accepted as a cornerstone of its doctrine. Equally distasteful to the Spanish public was the use of vulgar language and accounts of brutality and sexual immorality. The more enlightened prose writers, such as Emilia Pardo Bazán and Leopoldo Alas, succeeded in eliminating what was truly unacceptable for the Spaniard and adopting the style and themes of Zola and his contemporaries while never wholly embracing their ideology. . . .
The countess Pardo Bazán was...
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SOURCE: "Subversion in Two Short Stories by Emilia Pardo Bazán, in Letras Peninsulares, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring, 1989, pp. 55-64.
[In the following excerpt, Durham discusses Pardo Bazán's use of the grotesque to explain the status of women in society.]
Although Emilia Pardo Bazán was admired by her contemporaries for the ability to write "like a man," she often used her work to address the concerns of women. Her ability to synthesize diverse ideas and literary currents characterizes her work from the time of her rise to prominence as the author of La cuestión palpitante. Her reputation as a pacesetter was further confirmed when she assimilated the structure of the grotesque into her short stories. The grotesque especially suited works dealing with the status of women. Two stories, "Posesión" and "Los pendientes" are typical of the literature produced by women writers in the nineteenth century.
Many of Pardo Bazán's ideas concerning women markedly diverged from what was commonly expected of the women of her time. As a feminist she shocked many people when she advocated increased economic and educational opportunities for women. It is understandable, therefore, that she hesitated to openly express some of her more radical ideas, evidently fearful of how such a challenge would be met by patriarchal Spanish society.
Instead she chose to present these ideas...
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SOURCE: "Murderous Impulses and Moral Ambiguity: Emilia Pardo Bazán's Crime Stories," in Romance Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 2, May, 1992, pp. 205-10.
[In the following essay, Cate-Arries examines Pardo Bazán's frequent use of crime in her short fiction.]
In an article published in La Ilustración Artística in 1909, Emilia Pardo Bazán writes somewhat wistfully of her secret desire to join the ranks of professional crime solvers: "Todos llevamos dentro algo de instinto policíaco; cuando leo en la prensa el relato de un crimen, experimento deseos de verlo todo, los sitios, los muebles, suponiendo que, de poder hacerlo así, averiguaría mucho y encontraría la pista del criminal verdadero." It is well known that the Condesa confined her restless powers of detection to her armchair; indeed, criminals and their victims fill a wide range of her short stories and novelettes. In this essay I propose to examine the implications of Pardo Bazán's recurring appropriation of crime as anecdote in her short fiction.
The most logical place to start the investigation is with Pardo Bazán's best-known crime story, the novelette La gota de sangre, published in 1911. So begin other critics who have tracked the Galician novelist's incursion into the realm of murder and mystery. Paredes highlights the short novel in his study of doña Emilia's detective fiction [Los cuentos de Emilia...
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SOURCE: "Of Spinning Wheels and Witches: Pardo Bazán's 'Afra' and La bruja" in Letras Femeninas, Vol. 18, Nos. 1-2, 1992, pp. 108-18.
[In the essay below, Ashworth details similarities between one of Pardo Bazán's short stories and the drama La bruja, shedding insight on Pardo Bazán's narrative technique.]
Pardo Bazán's short story "Afra" begins in a theater where the narrator and his friend are watching a performance of La bruja, a zarzuela whose initial image is that of women spinning at their wheels and singing about their work while the men drink and play cards:
el copo suave
y dando vueltas
el huso baile.
This self-reflective image of the zarzuela as a tale spun and sung works its metaphorical magic on the village priest who calls for an end to the playing and spinning and for one of the women to tell a story. A woman named Rosalía volunteers, and her story, told in romances, the narrative form par excellence in Spanish poetry, is the first of many told in this musico-drama that is itself a narrative ball of yarns, a tall tale in the zarzuela tradition, set at the end of the 17th century and dealing with witches, love and the Inquisition. Rosalia's story, even further removed in time to the days when there was a...
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SOURCE: "'La que entrega la mirada, lo entrega todo': The Sexual Economy of the Gaze in Pardo Bazan's 'La Mirada'," in Romance Languages Annual, Vol. 4, 1992, pp. 620-26.
[In the following essay, Tolliver discusses the sexual meaning of the lover's gaze in Pardo Bazán's short story "La Mirada."]
In Pardo Bazán's 1908 story, "La mirada," a character identified only as a "señorito" makes the following pronouncement: "la que entrega la mirada, lo entrega todo." This comment encapsulates the complex dynamic of the gaze between men and women, for it clearly associates sexuality with the gaze, and both of these with notions of trade, surrender, power and control. "La mirada" explores this dynamic both on the level of story and in the structure of the narrative discourse.
"La mirada" employs a male autodiegetic narrator. From his room at the inn in the town of "M . . .", where he frequently travels on business, the unnamed narrator/protagonist makes a practice of spying on the young married woman across the street, whose bedroom window faces his. One day, he overhears a group of businessmen comment that although Tilde, the young woman, takes pleasure in perfecting her appearance, she does so for the gratification she receives from the envy of other women, and not in order to attract other men. In fact, she would not so much as look at another man. This pleasure is constrained, however, by...
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SOURCE: "Translator's Foreward," in The White Horse and Other Stories, Associated University Presses, 1993, pp. 9-13.
[In the following excerpt, Fedorchek places Pardo Bazán in the context of some of her contemporaries.]
An admired novelist and a respected critic, Emilia Pardo Bazán is also considered, by virtually all scholars and students of Spanish literature, one of nineteenth-century Spain's foremost short story writers. Others (Leopoldo Alas) can be more profound and some (Pedro Antonio de Alarcón and Armando Palacio Valdés) are considerably more gifted with a sense of humor, but few of her Spanish contemporaries have her range and none her volume. The critic Juan Paredes Núñez [in Los cuentos de Emilia Pardo Bazán, 1979] has been able to locate the staggering number of 580 stories, and states that even this figure is not definitive inasmuch as Pardo Bazán published not only in Spain, but also in numerous foreign newspapers and magazines.
If Nathaniel Hawthorne is an American short story writer who best depicts New England, and Guy de Maupassant a French short story writer who best depicts Normandy, then Doña Emilia Pardo Bazán is to be seen as a Spanish short story writer who best depicts her home region of Galicia. Situated in the northwestern corner of Spain, Galicia saw itself in the nineteenth century as remote, isolated from the central government, and cut...
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SOURCE: "Subversion of Victorian Values and Idea Types: Pardo Bazán and the Ángel del hogar," in Hispanofila, Vol. 113, 1995, pp. 31-44.
[In the following essay, Pérez examines several of the stories collected in Pardo Bazán's Cuentos de Marineda, which she considers "ironic or otherwise subversive reactions to the Victorian ideal."]
The mention of the word "Victorian" evokes a world unto itself, a closed world based largely on authority: God, the church, parents, elders, the upper classes. And Emilia Pardo Bazán was—among other things—a Victorian writer, born and raised during the long reign of Victoria Regina (1837-1901), who wrote her most celebrated works in the Victorian era. The canon has heretofore privileged those aspects of Pardo Bazán which might be deemed least Victorian, i.e., those classed as Naturalistic, yet she was something more—and something less—than a Naturalist, as recent studies have begun to elucidate.
Maurice Hemingway has termed Naturalism a "red herring" turning attention away from multiple and diverse facets of Pardo Bazán's work [Emilia Pardo Bazán: The Making of a Novelist, 1983]. Similarly, Darío Villanueva remarks that the tendency to view Pardo Bazán as representing a particular literary movement—i.e., as the principal disseminator of Naturalism in Spain—has worked to the detriment of broader and deeper...
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Bieder, Maryellen. "Emilia Pardo Bazán and Literary Women: Women Reading Women's Writing in Late 19th-century Spain." Revista Hispanica Moderna XLVI, No. 1 (June 1993): 19-33.
Discusses Pardo Bazán's distancing herself from other women writers, as well as her refusal to play the self-effacing role expected of women writers.
Brown, Donald Fowler. "Conflicting Voices," in The Catholic Naturalism of Pardo Bazán. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1957, pp. 145-55.
Summarizes widely varying critical assessments of Pardo Bazán.
Giles, Mary E. "Impressionist Techniques in Descriptions by Emilia Pardo Bazán." Hispanic Review XXX (October 1962): 304-16.
Discusses Pardo Bazán's use of stylistic devices derived from Impressionist paintings in her descriptions of both landscapes and characters.
Davis, Gifford. "Pardo Bazán, Juan Valent, and Literary Fashion." Romance Notes XI (1969): 315-21.
Details a literary exchange between Pardo Bazán and Juan Valera, who disliked Naturalism and defended art for art's sake.
——. "Literary Relations of Clarín and Emilia Pardo Bazán." Hispanic Review XXXIX (October 1971):...
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