In addition to two major novels, Leopoldo Alas (AHL-ahs) published more than eighty short stories or novelettes, including “Pipá,” “Doña Berta” (English translation), “El sombreto del señor cura,” “¡Adiós, Cordera!” (English translation), “Dos sabios,” and “Zurrita.” Many of these pieces have been collected and republished under such titles as Cuentos morales (1896, 1973),¡Adiós, Cordera! y otros cuentos (1944), Cuentos de Clarín (1954), and Cuentos escogidos (1964). Alas’s collections of literary and political essays include El derecho y la moralidad (doctoral thesis, 1878), Solos de Clarín (1881, 1971), La literatura en 1881 (1882; with Armando Palacio Valdés), Nueva campaña, 1885-1886(1887), Mezclilla (1889), Ensayos y revistas (1892), Palique (1893, 1973), and Galdós (1912). His only attempt at theater is the play Teresa (pr., pb. 1895). An important general compilation of Alas’s work is that of Juan Antonio Cabezas, Obras selectas (1947, 1966), which includes both of the major novels, twenty-five short stories, and thirty-seven articles.
Leopoldo Alas, frequently known by his pseudonym Clarín, is considered one of the four or five most important figures of nineteenth century Spanish realism, along with Benito Pérez Galdós, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Juan Valera, and José María de Pereda. While Alas was recognized early in his literary career for the excellence of his short stories and for the biting criticism of his essays, he was, like Stendhal, generally misunderstood by his own generation. His fame now rests primarily on his two major and lengthy works, particularly La regenta, considered by many critics as the second greatest novel in the Spanish language, after Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, 1615). Since the centennial celebration of Alas’s birth in 1952, studies of his best short stories and of His Only Son have finally brought about a relatively balanced view of his artistic achievements.
Alas was one of the most prolific and certainly one of the most feared of all literary critics in Spain during the second half of the nineteenth century. By the end of his life, he could lash out mercilessly at a mistake in grammar by some aspiring writer or politician and, by a single stroke of the pen, destroy that person’s career. With respect to literary ideology, his essays call, above all, for a realism based on exactness of observation and psychological depth, within a moral framework. Alas also was one of the few to insist that his contemporaries inform themselves of literary developments taking place north of the Pyrenees.
DuPont, Denise. Realism as Resistance: Romanticism and Authorship in Galdós, Clarín, and Baroja. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 2006. Explores the boundaries between realism and Romanticism in novels by three Spanish authors: Alas’s La regenta, Benito Pérez Galdós’s first series of Episodios nacionales, and Pío Baroja’s The Struggle for Life. All three novels feature quixotic characters who act as authors, a theme DuPont traces to the influence of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes.
Franz, Thomas R. Valera in Dialogue = In Dialogue with Valera: A Novelist’s Work in Conversation with That of His Contemporaries and Successors. New York: Peter Lang, 2000. Chronicles the debate among Alas and his contemporaries Juan Valera and Benito Pérez Galdós over the aesthetics of Spanish realist fiction, and how this debate influenced Alas’s successors, namely Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo and Ramón María del Valle-Inclán.
Gilfoil, Anne W. “Disease as a Dis/Organizing Principle in Nineteenth-Century Spain: Benito Pérez Galdós, Leopoldo Alas, and Emilia Pardo Bazán.” In Science, Literature, and Film in the Hispanic World, edited by Jerry Hoeg and Kevin S. Larsen. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Gilfoil’s essay and the others in this book chart the relationship between literature and...
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