Generation of 1898 Short Fiction Essay - Critical Essays

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.

Representative Works

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

Gabriel Miró
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 Exemplary Novels and a Prologue] (novellas) 1920
La tía Tula (novella) 1921
Don Sandalio, jugador de ajedrez (novella) 1930
San Manuel Bueno, mártir, y tres historias más [Saint Emmanuel the Good, Martyr] (novellas) 1933

Ramon del Valle-Inclán
Femeninas (short stories) 1895
Epitalamio: Historia de amores (novella) 1897
Corte de amor: Florilegio de honestas y nobles damas (short stories) 1903
Jardín umbrío (short stories) 1903

Criticism: Overviews And General Studies

Donald L. Shaw (essay date 1975)

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.]


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...

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Antonio Ramos-Gascón (essay date 1988)

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...

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Maryellen Bieder (essay date 1995)

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...

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Criticism: Major Short Story Writers Of The Generation Of 1898

Mirella d'Ambrosio Servodidio (essay date April 1968)

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...

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Renée Sieburth (essay date spring 1979)

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,...

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Walter T. Pattison (essay date 1971)

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...

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Lou Charnon-Deutsch (essay date fall 1981)

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...

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Janet Pérez (essay date winter 1992-93)

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...

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Joyce Tolliver (essay date 1996)

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.]


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...

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Henry A. Linares (essay date August 2000)

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...

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Ian R. MacDonald (essay date January 1990)

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...

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José Ferrater Mora (essay date 1962)

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.]


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...

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Donald L. Shaw (essay date 1975)

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....

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Catherine Nickel (essay date summer 1987)

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...

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Martha LaFollette Miller (essay date February 1992)

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,...

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Catherine Davies (essay date 1994)

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...

(The entire section is 10632 words.)

Further Reading


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...

(The entire section is 730 words.)