Generation of 1898 Short Fiction
Generation of 1898 Short Fiction
The Generation of 1898 refers to a group of Spanish short-story writers, novelists, poets, and essayists that was profoundly influenced by Spain's humiliating loss in the Spanish-American War (1898). As a result of their defeat by United States, Spain not only lost the valuable colonial lands of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam, it also was dealt a severe blow to its national pride. The collapse of the Spanish empire, which had survived for nearly 400 years, prompted an orgy of national reflection. Young writers and intellectuals were at the forefront of this self-examination, criticizing the apathetic response of the Spanish people as a spiritual malaise and attacking the old governing order as responsible for the defeat. The Generation of 1898 believed that literature could be utilized to regenerate their country through biting social and political criticism, a renewed interest in the Spanish landscape, and a new interpretation of Spain's artistic tradition. The short stories produced by Generation of 1898 during this time incorporated these defining characteristics.
Recent critics have found the Generation of 1898 to be a limiting and confusing category. They cite recurrent comparisons between the Generation of 1898 and another popular Spanish literary movement in the early years of the twentieth century, known as modernismo. To differentiate between the two movements, they argue that the Generation of 1898 writers produced fiction and essays preoccupied with Spanish nationalism and social commentary, and the modernistas were concerned with aestheticism and literary innovation. It has been noted that several Spanish authors from that time were influenced by both movements, and they have been at one time or another included in both categories. Confusion regarding the two groups has led commentators to assert that the concept of the Generation of 1898 has obscured a clear understanding of Spain's aesthetic and intellectual development at the beginning of the twentieth century. Although the term has become firmly entrenched in literary jargon, a growing number of voices are calling for its elimination from the vocabulary of modern literary historiography.
Azorín [pseudonym of José Martínez Ruiz]
Bohemia: Cuentos (short stories) 1897
Castilla (short stories, sketches, and essays) 1912
Cuentos (short stories) 1956
Emilia Pardo Bazán
Cuentos de Marineda (short stories) 1892
Cuentos nuevos (short stories) 1894
Cuentos de amor (short stories) 1898
Cuentos sacroprofanos (short stories) 1899
Un destripador de antaño y otros cuentos (short stories) 1900
Cuentos dramáticos (short stories) 1901
Cuentos de la patria (short stories) 1902
Cuentos del terruño (short stories) 1907
La sirena negra (novella) 1908
Cuentos de la tierra (short stories) 1923
Cuentos completos. 4 vols. (short stories) 1990
The White Horse and Other Stories [translated by Robert M. Fedorchek] (short stories) 1993
Torn Lace and Other Stories [translated by María Christina Urruela] (short stories) 1996
Vincente Blasco Ibáñez
Cuentos valencianos (short stories) 1896
Figuras de la passion del Señor. [Figures of the Passion of Our Lord] 2 vols. (sketches and stories) 1916-17
Miguel de Unamuno
El espejo de la muerte (short stories) 1913
Abel Sánchez [Abel Sánchez] (novella) 1917
Tres novelas ejemplares y un prólogo [Three...
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Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: Shaw, Donald L. “Origins and Definitions.” In The Generation of 1898 in Spain, pp. 1-16. London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1975.
[In the following essay, Shaw traces the origins of the Generation of 1898 and provides a definition of the literary movement.]
I. THE CUBAN QUESTION
The loss of Spain's colonial possessions in continental Latin America in the early nineteenth century was greeted in the mother country with comparative indifference; but the emergence of a liberation movement in Cuba aroused intransigent opposition. Cuba had come to be seen as virtually part of Spain. Its economic importance, especially for Catalonia, was considerable. Spain also realized that to lose Cuba would inevitably mean the loss of Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and with them the last shreds of her international prestige. Finally, since it was clear that the United States was actively supporting the Cuban rebels and, as early as 1848, had offered to buy Cuba for 15 million pesetas, any retreat on the part of Spain was regarded as a sell-out to North America.
War broke out between the separatists and Spain in Cuba in 1868 and dragged on until peace was patched up a decade later. A number of concessions were then made to Cuban autonomy. In 1893 a far-reaching bill of reforms aimed at solving the Cuban problem was presented to the Madrid parliament by the leading Conservative...
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SOURCE: Ramos-Gascón, Antonio. “Spanish Literature as a Historiographic Invention: The Case of the Generation of 1898.” In The Crisis of Institutionalized Literature in Spain, edited by Wlad Godzich and Nicholas Spadaccini, pp. 167-93. Minneapolis: The Prisma Institute, 1988.
[In the following essay, Ramos-Gascón contends that “the myth of the Generation of '98 has done nothing but cloud our understanding of the aesthetic and intellectual development of the end of the last century and the beginning of the present one” and argues that the literary movement should be viewed within the scope of Spanish literature.]
In his 1968 essay “Second Thoughts on Currents and Periods,” Claudio Guillén wrote: “To explore the idea of what constitutes ‘literary history’ could very well be the most important theoretical challenge that the student of literature faces today.” Almost at the same time, Américo Castro published his work Los españoles: cómo llegaron a serlo, in which he once again defended his fertile and recurrent thesis about the historical and ideological character of the Spanish historiographic contexture, and attacked the still firmly rooted idea of our eternal españolidad, or Spanishness.
Since then, more than a little rain has fallen on the literary-historiological field: a brief incursion through the contents of publications on theory from both...
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SOURCE: Bieder, Maryellen. “Gender and Language: The Womanly Woman and Manly Writing.” In Culture and Gender in Nineteenth-Century Spain, edited by Lou Charnon-Deutsch and Jo Labanyi, pp. 98-119. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.
[In the following essay, Bieder examines the ways in which women writers in late nineteenth-century Spain maneuver and reposition their writing within gender boundaries.]
In the nineteenth century, male and female literary figures move in separate spheres, and the labels used to designate their activities meld the author's gender with the written product. The most common gendered pairs of words in the Spanish language to identify authors are poeta/poetisa [poet/poetess], literato/literata [man of letters/literary woman], and, less frequently, escritor/escritora [writer/woman writer]. This binary division displays the gender of the writer but also implicates writing itself. Since masculine cultural forms constitute the norm, the work of a female literata or poetisa represents that-which-is-not-the-norm, the otherness of non-male writing. In short, the perceived inseparability of biology and language: writing ‘like a woman’. Catharine Stimpson states the case cogently: ‘Scholars have shown that Western culture has propagated an ideology of creativity that says men produce art, women children; that literary texts both reflect and reinforce...
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Criticism: Major Short Story Writers Of The Generation Of 1898
SOURCE: Servodidio, Mirella d'Ambrosio. “Azorín and the Modern Short Story.” The Romanic Review 59, no. 2 (April 1968): 88-92.
[In the following essay, Servodidio contends “the modern short story was to prove an ideal vehicle of expression for Azorín.”]
A careful appraisal of Azorín's work indicates that the short story genre is singularly suited to his talents. As suggested by Salvador de Madariaga,1 Azorín suffers from a natural shortness of breath which prevents him from attempting long literary excursions. Although he does write sixteen novels, they are held in check and are reduced in scope and dimension. Yet, despite this deliberate adjustment of proportion to artistic conception, Azorín's novels are weakened by an inability to give an integrated picture of life, or to coordinate the variety of characters, impressions and nuances which they accumulate. They are merely a series of pictures, vivid and disconnected, and at most linked by a vague plot. Within the smaller framework of the story, Azorín does not encounter these stumbling blocks.
By his own admission, Azorín has written more than four hundred short stories,2 and he has been signaled out by responsible critics as an “exceptional cultivator”3 of the story, a “consumate master of the genre,”4 and “the best short story writer of the twentieth...
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SOURCE: Sieburth, Renée. “Commentary on Azorín's ‘La casa cerrada’.” Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos 3, no. 3 (spring 1979): 291-96.
[In the following essay, Sieburth provides a reading of “La casa cerrada” in order to gain insight into Azorín's central thematic concerns.]
Azorín's Castilla (Madrid, 1912) is a collection of short texts in which the particular concerns of the author find consummate expression. Both subtlety and intensity of emotion inform its pages as story after story tells of the fleeting quality of time, indulges in the sentimental evocation of the past, and even proposes the idea that time may well be cyclical, carrying with it sparks, as it were, of great moments long past. These are then fused with the author's nostalgia for the spirit of Spain's Golden Age. In a prefatory note to the book, Azorín tells us that “… una preocupación por el poder del tiempo compone el cuadro espiritual de estos cuadros. La sensación de la corriente perdurable e inexorable de las cosas, cree el autor haberla experimentado al escribir algunas de las presentes páginas.” To illustrate Azorín's themes and methods, we might choose “Una ciudad y un balcón.” The device of a telescope is used and the reader is invited to look through the instrument. The narrator is present throughout and includes the reader in his impressions by speaking in the first person...
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SOURCE: Pattison, Walter T. “Short Stories and Criticism.” In Emilia Pardo Bazán, pp. 92-7. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1971.
[In the following essay, Pattison offers an overview of Pardo Bazán's short fiction, asserting that “it was she who acclimated the short story and made it an important part of the Spanish literary scene.”]
Pardo Bazán is the outstanding short story writer of Spain in the nineteenth century. Before her, only Pedro de Alarcón attained mastery over the genre; during her prime only Clarín had some of her competence, and in her later years Blasco Ibáñez was her only rival. Yet none of these competitors produced with the abundance and high quality as did the Countess. It was she who acclimated the short story and made it an important part of the Spanish literary scene.
The short story, as created by Edgar Allen Poe and Maupassant, had not existed before the nineteenth century. The spread of literacy created a wider reading public and the rapid increase in the number of periodical publications brought inexpensive reading matter to the new public. In Spain both newspapers and magazines had a marked literary character. Even papers primarily devoted to the factual reporting of the news often printed stories; some of the most famous had weekly literary supplements. There was, then, a definite demand for short fiction....
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SOURCE: Charnon-Deutsch, Lou. “Naturalism in the Short Fiction of Emilia Pardo Bazán.” Hispanic Journal 3, no. 1 (fall 1981): 73-85.
[In the following essay, Charnon-Deutsch explores the naturalistic tendency found in several of Pardo Bazán's short stories.]
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.1 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.2 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....
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SOURCE: Pérez, Janet. “Winners, Losers and Casualities in Pardo Bazán's Battle of the Sexes.” Letras Peninsulares 5, no. 3 (winter 1992-93): 347-56.
[In the following essay, Pérez elucidates the male-female relationships—especially courtship and matrimony—in Pardo Bazán's short fiction.]
In the 1990 four-volume edition of Pardo Bazán's complete tales by Juan Paredes Núñez, more than 400 short stories originally published in collections by the author appear in association with almost 200 more, previously published only in periodicals. The vast majority of these are unstudied, and given the cannonical view of the short story as a minor genre, critical neglect may not be surprising, despite the writer's importance. Strangely, however, scholarly neglect extends to a majority of her long novels as well, with attention concentrated on only a fraction of Pardo Bazán's production. Perusal of the secondary bibliography reveals insistent re-examination of her Naturalism, her relationship to Zola and its peculiar shadings—a logical emphasis given her pioneering role in introducing the movement into Spain and the attendant polemics. The second largest nucleus of studies falls under the rubric of Galician regionalism, and this—like Naturalism—is a subdivision of the hierarchical genre and movement canon. However logical the emphasis on these aspects, their importance hardly justifies critical...
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SOURCE: Tolliver, Joyce. Introduction to Torn Lace and Other Stories, by Emilia Pardo Bazán, Translated by María Christina Urruela, pp. ix-xxiv. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1996.
[In the following essay, Tolliver provides a biographical sketch of Pardo Bazán and a thematic and stylistic analysis of her short stories.]
PARDO BAZáN, WRITER AND INTELLECTUAL
Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921) is one of the most important literary figures of nineteenth-century Spain. She is without doubt the most influential Spanish woman writer of that century, instrumental in promoting an awareness of French naturalism and Russian spiritual realism in the Spanish reading public. Pardo Bazán single-handedly authored and published an important journal, Nuevo teatro crítico, which appeared every month in 1891 and 1892. It served as a forum for her feminist ideas and included essays on philosophical, scientific, literary, and historical topics. Pardo Bazán also wrote an original story for practically every monthly issue. In addition to her novels, plays, poetry, and almost six hundred short stories, she wrote innumerable essays of social and literary criticism, which were published in the leading intellectual journals of her day.
She was born in La Coruña, Galicia, a province of northwestern Spain known for its mild, rainy climate and its Celtic...
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SOURCE: Linares, Henry A. “Individual Status Versus Community Interest in ‘La cencerrada’ by Vincente Blasco Ibáñez.” Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 20, nos. 3-4 (August 2000): 203-05.
[In the following essay, Linares finds Ibáñez's “La cencerrada” to be an example of naturalism.]
“La cencerrada” written by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (known in the United States as the author of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse)1 is a short story which can be classified as a product of the literary movement known as Naturalism which flourished in Europe near the end of the 19th century. One of the principal tenants of this movement was to demonstrate that the environment exerted a major influence on the behavior of the characters. Environmental factors were described as forces that controlled and determined the actions of characters who would not be able to escape a pre-determined destiny through personal efforts. However, this type of explanation addresses only the results of certain influential forces, describes only the symptoms of an underlying cause, and does not reveal the true sources of a character's emotions that could influence his/her conduct. A better understanding of a literary piece such as “La cencerrada” can be achieved if one would extend the analysis of the work to include such factors as high male status, pair-bonding, sexual asymmetry, and...
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SOURCE: MacDonald, Ian R. “The Gospels as Fiction: Gabriel Miró's Figuras and Biblical Scholarship.” Forum for Modern Language Studies 26, no. 1 (January 1990): 49-61.
[In the following essay, MacDonald outlines the critical controversy surrounding Miró's revision of Gospel texts, Figuras de la Pasión del Señor, and views the sketches in the volume as radical.]
Ah! si, dans la fraîcheur de sa beauté, avant les souillures du mariage et la désillusion de l'adultère, elle avait pu placer sa vie sur quelque grand coeur solide, alors la vertu, la tendresse, les voluptés et le devoir se confondant, jamais elle ne serait descendue d'une félicité si haute.1
These are words from Madame Bovary quoted in shocked tones by the prosecutor at the trial of Flaubert's novel. Flaubert might, he suggested, have had the decency to write of the disappointments of marriage and the defilements of adultery, rather than the other way round. Flaubert had, we can see, broken the rules of a section of French society, committing, in Dominick LaCapra's phrase, an “ideological crime”. But what is especially interesting in this example is that the offence depends on a misunderstanding of Flaubert's technique of free indirect style. What the prosecution treats as the words of the author, authoritative words, are actually a representation...
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SOURCE: Mora, José Ferrater. “Unamuno and His Generation.” In Unamuno: A Philosophy of Tragedy, translated by Philip Silver, pp. 1-24. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962.
[In the following essay, Mora underscores Unamuno's relationship with the Generation of 1898 and lists the defining characteristics of the literary movement.]
1. THE GENERATION OF 1898
Miguel de Unamuno was born in Bilbao, the spiritual and industrial capital of the Spanish Basque country, on September 29, 1864. He spent his childhood and a part of his youth there, and it left an indelible mark on the whole of his life. Unamuno was always profoundly aware of his “Basqueness,” even throughout his struggle against the political nationalism prevailing in that region. Far from believing that being Basque and Spanish at the same time were incompatible, he often urged that the Basques become the substance and, as it were, the salt of Spain. By so doing, he ranged himself with a large group of modern Spanish writers who, though born in the peripheral provinces of Spain, have done their best to revive the seemingly lethargic center—Castile.
Unamuno passionately adopted this center, but instead of quietly surrendering to its charm, he tried desperately to rekindle its fire. Whereas for Unamuno the Basque land was “the land of his love,” Castile must be called “the land of...
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SOURCE: Shaw, Donald L. “Unamuno: The Giant of the Generation.” In The Generation of 1898 in Spain, pp. 41-74. London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1975.
[In the following essay, Shaw examines Unamuno's vital role in the Generation of 1898 and provides an overview of his fiction and poetry.]
J. Herrero states categorically that Ganivet was ‘el primero entre los hombres de su generación en adoptar una actitud que caracterizará a los componentes de lo que llamamos la Generación del 98’.1 This is in one way strictly true. The key-year for Ganivet was 1888, the year of España filosófica contemporánea, from which so much of the rest of his work stems. But this thesis was not published. Apart from one minor item, Ganivet did not break his silence until October 1895 when he began to send articles home from Antwerp. He only emerged as a national figure in 1897 with the publication of La conquista … (April) and the Idearium (August). By this time Unamuno had already published, with much else, his earliest short stories (‘Ver con los ojos’, 1886; ‘Solitaña’, 1889) and the articles later collected as Recuerdos de niñez y mocedad. More especially he had brought out En torno al casticismo (February-June 1895) and had completed in 1896 his first novel, Paz en la Guerra, published like La conquista … in 1897. Unamuno bitterly resented the fact...
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SOURCE: Nickel, Catherine. “Recasting the Image of the Fallen Woman in Valle-Inclán's ‘Eulalia’.” Studies in Short Fiction 24, no. 3 (summer 1987): 289-94.
[In the following essay, Nickel considers the image of the fallen woman in Valle-Inclán's “Eulalia.”]
In 1864 William Gayer Starbuck wrote that “When a woman falls from her purity there is no return for her as well may one attempt to wash the stain from the sullied snow. Men sin and are forgiven; but the memory of a woman's guilt cannot be removed on earth.”1 The ideological assumptions underlying these assertions remained popular for many years and late nineteenth-century fiction is filled with fallen women who complete their social and moral descent by throwing themselves into a river, lake or other body of water. Though not every adulteress ended up in the river, this particular image held such a powerful attraction that it eventually became a literary cliché. It owed its popularity in part to the combination of two compelling notions: that of transgression and transcendence, and the concomitant condemnation and admiration this act elicited. Through this symbolic gesture the fallen woman laid claim to both pity and wonder.
The disgraced woman's suicide represented not only punishment for past sins but also a form of liberation, a transfiguring experience. Nina Auerbach observes that “Death does not...
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SOURCE: Miller, Martha LaFollette. “The Feminization and Emasculation of Galicia in Valle-Inclán's Jardín umbrío.” Romance Quarterly 39, no. 1 (February 1992): 87-92.
[In the following essay, Miller discusses the liminal status and feminization of the Galicia region of Spain as depicted in Valle-Inclán's “Juan Quinto” and “Mi bisabuelo,” two stories that stand out particularly for their portrayals of emasculation and impotence.”]
A feature of the literary text that has attracted increasing interest in recent years is liminality. Gustavo Pérez Firmat, recalling the etymological connections between liminality and such words as limit, limb, limbo, lintel, and others, prefers the term over the related “marginality.”1 Liminality, which has sometimes been applied to the condition of women, must also be viewed as a threshhold state, a being between two things at once, a wavering or hesitation between two circumstances. Turn of the century Galicia for many reasons suggests such a liminality. Between two centuries, between two languages, at the margins of Spain, Galicia was a doorway to the coming and going of immigration to Castile and the New World. Widespread emigration from Galicia contributed to liminality in various ways. Galician immigrants in Castile suffered social marginalization, as Rosalía de Castro indicates in her poetry and others confirm. The displacement...
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SOURCE: Davies, Catherine. “‘Venus impera’? Women and Power in Femeninas and Epitalamio.” In Ramón María del Valle-Inclán: Questions of Gender, edited by Carol Maier and Roberta L. Salper, pp. 129-53. Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 1994.
[In the following essay, Davies contends that Valle-Inclán's Femeninas and Epitalamio subvert the modernist aesthetic through their depiction of female sexuality.]
This essay explores how Valle-Inclán's early narrative subverts the modernist aesthetic through its representation of female sexuality. In this context, Rubén Darío's Prosas profanas [Profane hymns] provides a useful contrast because, despite obvious thematic and stylistic resemblances between these early texts, the subversive strategy employed by Valle-Inclán's is quite distinct. Indeed, as we shall see, Epitalamio [Epithalamium] engages with Prosas profanas itself, undermining its claim to seriousness by means of a counterrepresentation of the female figure.
Valle-Inclán's first book (Femeninas [Feminine portraits], Pontevedra, 1895) contains six stories dated between April 1892 (“La Generala” [“The General's Wife”]) and April 1984 (“Rosarito”); it was followed by the novela Epitalamio (Madrid, 1897). In the intervening year, 1896, Darío, one year younger than Valle-Inclán,...
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Ashworth, Peter P. “Of Spinning Wheels and Witches: Pardo Bazán's ‘Afra’ and La bruja.” Letras Femeninas 18, no. nos. 1-2 (1992): 108-18.
Considers the connection between Pardo Bazán's short story “Afra” and the La bruja.
Durham, Carolyn Richardson. “Subversion in Two Short Stories by Emilia Pardo Bazán.” Letras Peninsulares 2, no. 1 (spring 1989): 55-64.
Elucidates feminist themes in Pardo Bazán's short stories “Posesión” and Los pendientes.”
Hoffman, Joan M. “Torn Lace and Other Transformations: Rewriting the Bride's Script in Selected Stories by Emilia Pardo Bazán.” Hispania 92, no. 2 (May 1999): 238-45.
Demonstrates Pardo Bazán's subversive treatment of the traditional feminine ideal in several of her stories focused on marriage.
Jurkevich, Gayana. “A Poetics of Time and Space: Ekphrasis and the Modern Vision in Azorín and Velázquez.” Modern Language Notes 110, no. 2 (March 1995): 284-301.
Judges the influence of the Spanish painter Velázquez on the fictional work of Azorín.
Lepeley, Cynthia. “Domestic Angel, Avenging Angel: Blurring Gender Lines in Pardo Bazán's ‘La Mayorazga de Bouzas’.” Romance Languages Annual 10, no. 2 (1998): 668-73.
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