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  • Pardo Bazán's Literary Use of Three Uniquely Personal Nicknames:Gedeón, Suriña, Feíta
  • Vernon Chamberlin

Although the multifaceted use of nicknames has been studied in the novels of Galdós and in Leopoldo Alas's La Regenta,1 to date there has been no study of Pardo Bazán's artistry with nicknames. However, we may be very sure that Doña Emilia delighted in the creation and employment of sobriquets, because she not only did so in her letters to Galdós during the time of their intimacy,2 but she also has her narrator (Mauro Pareja) confirm in the novel Memorias de un solterón that "[E]n esta Marineda [La Coruña] tienen buena sombra para motes" (I, 85). Nicknames are continually present from the first of Doña Emilia's novels (Pascual López) onward. However, it is only later in her career—after her polemics with Pereda, a love affair with Galdós, and derogatory remarks about her personal appearance by critics—that she was motivated to employ uniquely personal nicknames from these experiences. The aim of the present study is to begin consideration of the various ways Pardo Bazán uses nicknames in her novels by focusing upon three of these uniquely personal, self-reflecting, nicknames which differentiate her artistry from that of Galdós and Leopold Alas.

Pardo Bazán was a major literary figure and as such engaged in so many related activities, that it is no surprise that she should become involved in literary polemics. Her introduction of Naturalism into Spain with the La cuestión palpitante and the utilization of Naturalist practices in such novels as La tribuna, Los pazos de Ulloa, and La madre naturaleza, not only caused a life-long separation from her husband,3 but it also offended many readers and fellow authors. Moreover, because she was also a literary critic, reviewing and passing judgment on the works of other writers, it is understandable that other authors should reciprocate. Although she was one of the leading novelists of the period, the fact that she was a woman working in a field dominated by men did not, to say the least, discourage attacks on her and her creative fiction. Doña Emilia's polemical exchanges were so important that they are generally included in books dealing with her life and works, as well as being included in her Obras completas; her adversaries included such notables as "Clarín" (Leopoldo Alas), "Fray Candil" (Emilio Bobadilla), Menéndez y Pelayo, Palacio Valdés, and Pereda.4 Of all the polemics, the long-running exchanges with Pereda—including her review of his Nubes de Estío (1891)—seem to have irritated Pardo Bazán the most—and her creation and utilization of the name "Gedeón" is first seen not long before that review.

This sobriquet is exactly the same as the given name of the main character in Pereda's El buey suelto, and evidence of Pardo Bazán's polemic with Pereda concerning his 1878 work is seen in three of her novels as she repeatedly references Pereda's protagonist. Thus in Insolación (1889) the female protagonist Asís gives to a male servant whose baptismal name is Perfecto, the nickname "'Imperfecto' por sus gedeonadas" (105; ch. 13). Then in Doña Milagros (1894) the eponymous protagonist has in her employ a young male servant, whom she "por sus torpezas apodaba Gedeón" (134; ch. 8). And Doña Milagros [End Page 35] (with her Andalusian manner of speaking) specifies some of the "gedeonadas":

Gedeón había servido en el mismo asafate el chocolate de ella y la botas embetunás de su marido, Gedeón había cepillado un traje de lana a pintitas, y persuadido de que cada pinta era una mancha, medio había deshecho la tela; Gedeón había colgado el cuadrito de San Antonio cabeza abajo, Gedeón, con las abrazaderas de la cortinas de la sala, había adornado la mesa. [. . .Y] hay que colar un caldo, y tengo miedo que ese Gedeón me lo cuele por un calsetín.

(134; ch. 8)



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