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Juanita la Larga

a Novel

Juan Valera

Publication Year: 2011

Juanita la Larga (1896), the third of Juan Valera's eponymous novels with a female protagonist, unfolds in a small town in nineteenth-century Spain and tells the story of a young girl's romance with a wealthy widower many years her senior.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Translator’s Preface

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pp. ix-x

Juan Valera y Alcalá-Galiano (1824–1905), one of nineteenth-century Spain’s most respected authors, published his first novel in 1874 at the age of fifty and his last in 1899 at the age of seventy-five. In this span of twenty-five years he created four memorable heroines: Doña Blanca...

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pp. xi-xxiii

It is rare to find in the last works of old age the spirit of youthful glee, of sly merriment. Yet this is precisely the case with one of Juan Valera’s last novels, Juanita la Larga (1896), now graced with this lovely new translation. Its bucolic setting, gay Andalusian costumbrismo, and...

Title Page

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pp. 1

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Author’s Dedication

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pp. 3-6

I don’t know whether this book is a novel or not. I’ve written it with very little artistry, combining recollections of my adolescence and even of my childhood, which were spent in various parts of Córdoba. So as to have free rein for conceiving a story line, I do not specify the place or town...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 7-11

A certain friend of mine, a novice representative, whose name I do not record here because it is not relevant, was positively delighted with his district, and especially with the town where he enjoyed the most support, a town we will call Villalegre. This rich although small hamlet in Andalusia...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 12-16

A widower for more than twenty years, he had a twenty-eight-year-old daughter who had been the best-looking girl in the entire town, and who was then the most handsome, elegant, and haughty lady in it, shining from on high, like the sun at its zenith, because of her beauty and her...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 17-20

Nevertheless, in Villalegre there was another person who, on a smaller scale and with more limited aims, if she did not rival, then clearly approached Don Paco in merit because of her myriad skills and abilities and because of how industrious and clever she was...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 21-25

At the moment in which the action of this true tale begins, Juana had to be a good forty years old, although there were still traces of her former beauty, which had been remarkable when she was twenty. But as she was very poor then and had neither discovered nor demonstrated her tremendous...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 26-28

As has been said, thanks to her constant activity, good order, and thrift, in all of which her daughter helped her with intelligence and zeal, Juana la Larga had improved her lot in life as well as her finances. She had a very hardworking maid who swept and scrubbed, and who, under the...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 29-32

Absorbed as he was in his constant and various tasks, not only had Don Paco not thought about marrying a second time, but he had never had any love affairs, or at least if he had had some, they had been conducted with such marvelous circumspection that nobody in Villalegre had learned...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 33-36

That day Don Paco had been making an effort or, as it were, doing gymnastics with his will so as not to go to the tertulia and see Juanita. The struggle between his reasonable will and his inclination had lasted quite a while. In the end, though, the subjugated will, albeit late, led him toward the fountain...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 37-40

She had called him “grandfather,” but with an affable smile. We men, all of us, grandfathers and grandsons, usually have high hopes and are almost always inclined to lend the most favorable interpretation to whatever is said by the women we court...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 41-44

The proverb says that honor and gain do not fit in one container, but besides being honorable—and her honorableness bordered on austerity, so as to efface the bad impression of her youthful indiscretions—Juana la Larga was also a matron endowed with discretion and good sense...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 45-47

All the neighbors soon noticed Don Paco’s constant nocturnal visits and spread the news throughout the town, but since Antoñuelo usually went too, and between Don Paco and Juanita there was such a big disparity in age, gossipers explained everything by supposing that Antoñuelo was Juanita’s...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 48-52

Doña Inés López de Roldán was by no manner of means a common, ordinary village woman. She was, on the contrary, highly refined, and looking at her relative merits, that is, taking differences into account, we might characterize her as a Princess Lieven or a Madame Récamier at a provincial...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 53-56

The eve before the bishop’s arrival, which was the fifteenth of July, and also the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Juana la Larga had toiled long and hard, working her fingers to the bone to flavor the various dishes and delicacies, and even to prepare the splendid layout and lavish...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 57-62

Free now of so many additional household concerns, Doña Inés devoted herself with greater attention to the study of contemporary history, and in the end, with the aid of information supplied to her by Crispina and bringing her rare astuteness to bear, she realized that it was not the mother whom...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 63-69

He tried on the coat right there on the patio. Both women had him walk back and forth a number of times and agreed that Don Paco looked very smart in it, despite the fact that he had not come in his top hat, but in his derby, as usual, and a frock coat and a derby do not go well together...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 70-76

A multitude of people, both from Villalegre and from a number of nearby towns, milled about, either moving in the direction of the square where the fair continued as it did the night before, or clustering along the route the procession was to take upon exiting the parish church of Saint Dominic...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 77-84

At ten o’clock a high Mass was said with organ accompaniment, because they have a very good organ in Villalegre, which is not the case in Tocina1 and in other parts of Lower Andalusia, where it is said that for lack of an organ a guitar is played in church. We cannot confirm...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 85-90

Juanita, exhausted, plopped into an armchair. Juana strode back and forth in their small parlor, like a lioness in her cage. “Have you ever seen such nerve!” she exclaimed. “The gossipy . . . hypocritical . . . old bags! So if the ban on silk still existed, which of them would wear it without smuggled...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 91-98

Bewildered by the events of that day and still more by the expulsion of which he had just been the object, Don Paco did not know what direction to take or what to think, and automatically headed for his house to reflect and do an examination of conscience. The first thing he noted was that...

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Chapter 19

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pp. 99-104

Don Policarpo, Villalegre’s druggist, did the honors admirably and almost all the town’s male notables gathered there, in spite of the women, who were devout and detested the druggist, because, far from being in the odor of sanctity, he had the not very enviable notoriety of being an unbeliever...

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Chapter 20

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pp. 105-108

As she was not very reflective or foresighted, Juana did not think about the difficulties raised by Don Paco’s proposal, she thought only about the triumph that, in her opinion, she and her daughter had achieved. So she went to the downstairs room where Juanita was sewing and joyfully informed...

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Chapter 21

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pp. 109-113

If she had accepted him as a husband, Don Paco’s contentment would have been great, but his estimation of Juanita’s worth less than what it was then on being jilted. Perhaps a vague suspicion that Juanita was seizing her opportunity would have spoiled the contentment of seeing that she was accepting...

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Chapter 22

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pp. 114-118

She neither could nor wanted to turn the clock back and talk once more, and renew friendships, with the girls that she had known all her life, girls who, having been offended, might have rebuffed her one after the other. Still less could she associate, even if she wished to, with girls of blue blood and...

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Chapter 23

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pp. 119-123

The misfortune of the Juanas’ life of isolation was compounded by another that was no less of one and more absolute. At first there was such a widespread notion that Juana had carried her immoral indulgence to the extreme of acting as her daughter’s go-between, that she was less...

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Chapter 24

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pp. 124-130

The glorious servitude into which Juanita had managed to inject herself, if not useful, was bothersome in the extreme, because Doña Inés’s friendship could not have been more demanding nor more imperious. And the more she brimmed with enthusiasm and affection, the more she...

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Chapter 25

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pp. 131-136

Fortunately Doña Inés did not hurry to bring into effect the plan for Juanita’s nunhood, thus giving her seamstress companion time to prepare for the rebellion with sufficient strength to throw off the yoke while not undermining her interests and schemes. Although Doña Inés felt and admitted...

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Chapter 26

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pp. 137-141

Doña Inés’s tertulia was more animated and well attended than ever, especially on Thursdays, the big reception day. In the parlor there was a beautiful canopy fireplace, above which glittered, as did another above the door of the house, the family coat of arms. In the salient hearth not embedded...

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Chapter 27

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pp. 142-147

Nevertheless, she still excused Don Paco, remembering that she had dismissed him and that he did not have to be faithful to her. She thought that maybe he was observing a prudent pretense similar to the one she was observing, and so she resigned herself to forgiving him for not rebelling against...

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Chapter 28

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pp. 148-152

Don Paco did not show up at the town hall or at the mayor’s house or at the clerk’s office, places where he made rounds every day to perform his various duties. They went to his home to make inquiries and he wasn’t there. The bailiff and his wife, who served and looked after him, did not know...

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Chapter 29

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pp. 153-158

Our hero had, in effect, suffered the most cruel disappointment, first on seeing Juanita, accompanied by Don Andrés, crossing streets in the dark, chatting and laughing, and then on witnessing the last part of the conversation in the anteroom and the extremely energetic finale to the embraces...

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Chapter 30

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pp. 159-165

He expected that, as he had not asked permission of anyone, and as his unusual disappearance lacked a reason acknowledged by him, all his fellow Villalegrans would struggle to come up with one and would end up considering it an act of desperation or of despair. Nobody would stop bemoaning...

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Chapter 31

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pp. 166-171

Making no noise, Don Paco reached the hut and saw that the door was locked with an inside latch. The light came out through an ugly little window on which, instead of panes, a dirty rag had been stretched as protection against rain and cold. With the obstruction of the rag...

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Chapter 32

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pp. 172-174

Don Paco brought the mule around, had its owner mount it, and, lifting Antoñuelo, who could hardly move, and carrying him with some difficulty, slung him over the animal’s hind quarters. He then picked up the blunderbuss and the knife, trophies of his victory, and, leading the mule with...

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Chapter 33

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pp. 175-177

After wandering in the wilderness for two days, and after so many hardships, emotions, and adventures, Don Paco longed to pour out his heart and confide in someone completely. And in whom better than the schoolteacher, a good man who was such a discreet and excellent and generous...

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Chapter 34

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pp. 178-182

“Don’t be upset with me,” said Juanita, using the familiar, or , address with him for the first time. “I was jealous of Doña Agustina and angry at you with as little reason as you are now. I wanted to gall you. I’m being honest, and I confess my guilt and regret it. Forgive me. He kissed me by surprise, but...

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Chapter 35

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pp. 183-187

In the midst of her joy at having become reconciled with Don Paco, at being sure of his love and determined to marry him even if Doña Inés and the cacique were opposed and she, her future husband, and her mother had to be victims of the wrath of such powerful personages, Juanita felt...

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Chapter 36

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pp. 188-194

Carried away as I have been because of the current of events, because of the importance that I attribute to them, and because of the rapidity with which I want to narrate them, I’ve neglected chronology. It’s vague and confusing, and I should fix it a little...

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Chapter 37

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pp. 195-198

Everything was in turmoil that day on the ground floor of the cacique’s house. The entire household worked at various tasks in order to prepare for a big celebration that would take place the following day, Wednesday. The procession, which was a preamble to the others, and would be in the...

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Chapter 38

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pp. 199-205

In the midst of the hustle and bustle in his house, Don Andrés was calm and did not concern himself with any of the preparations. His employees and servants, with the ever industrious Juana at their head, looked after everything and vied with one another to ensure that it come off in spectacular...

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Chapter 39

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pp. 206-209

After having declared her love for Don Paco and after being assured that Antoñuelo would not be prosecuted, Juanita became so pleased and calmed down to such an extent that she desisted from any intention of revenge on Doña Inés, in spite of how much Doña Inés had harassed her. She also regretted...

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Chapter 40

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pp. 210-214

Doña Inés López de Roldán was a person of such a complicated and complex character that I often regret having brought her into play as one of the two heroines of this story, because I find it difficult to describe her well and convey to my readers a concept equal to the one that I have formed...

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Chapter 41

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pp. 215-221

What Doña Inés did was go to extremes in a show of affection for Juanita. She called herself the shepherdess and labeled Juanita the innocent lamb, giving her to understand, on the verge of tears and with intermittent sighs, how justifiably fearful and distressed she was to see Juanita in the clutches of the...

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Chapter 42

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pp. 222-229

“Listen, Rafaela, I’ve changed my mind. Your arguments have convinced me. I’ll receive Señor Don Andrés tonight. He’s already been told, and I don’t think he’ll fail to come. Be on the lookout and open up for him, before he knocks if it’s possible, and tell him to go to the upstairs room, where...

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Chapter 43

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pp. 230-236

After having reflected on what she had done, Juanita never regretted it, but if her will was strong and even obstinate, her mind vacillated and changed often, because she saw—successively, when not simultaneously—the pros and cons of everything...

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Chapter 44

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pp. 237-242

At that moment of peril Juanita recalled all her old skill at wrestling, when she used to fight hand-to-hand with boys and knock them down in the middle of the brook. So she also locked her arms around Don Andrés, sank her chin in his chest, simultaneously pushed against his shoulders with her...

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Chapter 45

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pp. 243-246

She had taken care to freshen and alter it in keeping with the latest style. With material left over from the cutting of it, and which she had saved, she had made herself another bodice with a modest décolletage, suitable for receptions and tertulias. She put this dress on, examined herself in the mirror...

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pp. 247-255

It’s possible, for as much as it might grieve me, that the main personages who figure in this story don’t interest anyone, but, since I’ve had to deal with them and describe their characters, I’ve taken quite a liking to them, and their present situation and condition awaken a curious interest in my...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 257-259

Publication Information

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pp. 261

E-ISBN-13: 9780813216645
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813214351

Page Count: 286
Publication Year: 2011