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Reappearing Characters in the Works of Pereda

From: Hispanófila
Volume 167, Enero 2013
pp. 23-37 | 10.1353/hsf.2013.0006

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

I. Introduction

An author's continuation of literary characters from one novel or story to successive works is a frequent and fruitful technique in nineteenth-century fiction. This return of familiar figures elicits a sense of recognition and acquaintance in the reader and widens the hermetic fictional space of the author to include multiple narratives. Honoré de Balzac was notable for such serialization in the French novel. In Spain, Benito Pérez Galdós and Emilia Pardo Bazán employed character reappearance extensively. José María de Pereda reintroduced his artistic creations as well, but in his own distinct way. An analysis of Pereda's use of recurring characters in comparison with the practices of Galdós and Pardo Bazán will illustrate this aspect of Pereda's literary style.

Benito Pérez Galdós was a master craftsman in the fashioning of literary characters. The tragic Fortunata, the saintly Benina, the hypocritical Doña Perfecta, and the meticulous Francisco Bringas are but some of his most memorable creations. Occasionally impressive characters make a single appearance, as do Fortunata and Plácido Estupiñá in Fortunata y Jacinta. Many other captivating figures return often. Federico Carlos Sáinz de Robles' "Ensayo de un censo de personajes galdosianos" (Pérez Galdós 6: 1699-2078) lists a multitude of fictional characters who appear in more than one work. The moneylender Francisco Torquemada is the central focus in the Torquemada series of four short narratives, but he also has lesser roles in four additional novels and one drama. Other personages, as well, are almost constants in Galdós' fictional world: Augusto Miquis appears in eight works, and Manuel Pez in ten. One Galdosian technique is the development of a minor figure of one novel into the protagonist of a later novel. Celepín Centeno first appears in Marianela and La familia de León Roch (both of 1878) and then assumes the title role in El doctor Centeno (1883). Conversely, a main character of one work sometimes plays a minor part in subsequent writings; such is the case of Máximo Manso of El amigo Manso (1882), who returns in La de Bringas (1884) and Ángel Guerra (1890-1891). Galdós was keenly attuned to the artistic possibilities for continuing use and further development of his characters. Some of them he traces through sufferings (e.g., Francisco Torquemada) and others he satirizes for their hollow speech and vile actions (e.g., Manuel Pez). In his series of "novelas españolas contemporáneas" he constructs a novelistic neighborhood in which established figures migrate from one work to another and become familiar companions for the reader.

The voluminous writings of Emilia Pardo Bazán contain clusters of works linked by characters, setting, and theme. One series is composed of four novels and two short stories written between 1884 and 1891 that depict the struggle between civilization and the barbarism of the Galician countryside. The centerpieces of this cluster are Los pazos de Ulloa, of 1886, and La madre Naturaleza, of 1887, where the sequel novel traces the consequences that result from the corrupt living and violence of the earlier work. In La madre Naturaleza Pardo Bazán is explicit in presenting the marquis Don Pedro Moscoso as a victim of the dissolute life he had led in Los pazos: "Para los cincuenta y pico en que debía frisar, parecíale [a Gabriel] muy atropellado y desfigurado el marqués. . . . El abandono de la persona, las incesantes fatigas de la caza, la absorción de humedad, de sol, de viento frío, la nutrición excesiva, la bebida destemplada, el sueño a pierna suelta, el exceso, en suma, de vida animal habían arruinado rápidamente la torre de aquella un tiempo robustísima y arrogante persona" (Pardo Bazán 1: 329).

Los pazos de Ulloa and La madre Naturaleza form the core of a larger cohesive unit of Pardo Bazán's novels and short stories. This group also includes Bucólica, El cisne de Vilamorta, "Nieto del Cid," and "Viernes Santo." All these works share a common setting near the fictitious town of Cebre as well as a gallery of reappearing characters...

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