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."