Emilia Pardo Bazán Biography


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

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.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Emilia Pardo Bazán was born into a prominent, but not aristocratic, family. Her father was active in politics and something of an intellectual, and it was he who encouraged his daughter to extend her education and to develop ambitions beyond the conventional limits accepted by young girls of that era. In spite of her liberal upbringing, however, Emilia found herself party to an arranged marriage before she had quite turned seventeen, and she eventually had three children, so that all the conventional obligations and ties stood in her way when she began to feel the stirrings of literary ambition as she neared her thirtieth birthday. By the time she was thirty-five, she had made a name for herself with several novels and some polemical literary criticism, and she had separated from her husband.

After the publication of Los Pazos de Ulloa (1886; The Son of a Bondwoman, 1908), generally regarded as her best novel, Pardo Bazán became a dominant and active figure in the literary world, not only in Madrid but also abroad, particularly in Paris, where she had made several visits and met the major writers of the day. She was well read in French literature and knew Italian and English as well, enabling her to bring into Spain many new literary ideas imported from the rest of Europe. She was perhaps the most cosmopolitan literary presence in Spain during the final decades of the nineteenth century. Her literary activism consisted not only of...

(The entire section is 473 words.)