Critical Evaluation

José María de Pereda never left his ancestral country home in mountainous northern Spain, except for one stint as a Carlist artillery officer; he loved his hilly native countryside and its old folkways, and like Marcelo at the end of his novel PENAS ARRIBA, he could hardly bear to leave it even for short trips. He appreciated open air, honest toil, and healthy country people devoted to God and was disgusted by large cities, with their corrupt politicians and their affectation of foreign manners. His writings reflect his respect for peasants and his admiration of patriarchal, rural society based on the contributions of individual talent and the code of noblesse oblige.

After 1876, Pereda became a champion of conservatism and the literary flag bearer of defeated Carlism; for a time, he was considered Spain’s best modern novelist of the Realist school. His works can be classified in two groups: those set in his beloved mountains and the coastal zone near Santander, which glorify regional beauty, and those set in Madrid, which attack city life, materialism, and alien-inspired radicalism. PENAS ARRIBA belongs to the first group; this novel of his native north sings the grandeur of the majestic mountains whose presence dominates the story. The snow episodes and descriptions are particularly memorable and are symbolically important; they are crucial to the theme of a novel which is in many ways a polemic on the superiority of country people...

(The entire section is 549 words.)