Saturday, January 05, 2013

Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós: Bonus Fortunata and Jacinta quote and comments

Tristana: Buñuel’s Film and Galdós’ Novel: A Case Study in the Relation Between Literature and Film by Colin Partridge (New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995)

In reading though Colin Partridge’s essay on the novel Tristana I found a quote from Fortunata and Jacinta that I had marked as important when I read it but somehow excluded it in the many posts on that novel. I'm fixing that now. Lucky you. But it’s an important insight into the philosophy in Galdós’novels, contained in what looks like a throwaway line or one easy to miss in a massive novel. From near the end of Volume Three / Chapter 5 (Another Restoration), pages 543-544 in my version with translation by Agnes Moncy Gullón:
Forunata saw Sr. Feijóo very infrequently now; he came to pay ceremonious visits and stayed for about an hour, talking more with Señora Járegui than with Señora Rubín. The pleasant old man appeared to be happy, but his health was failing; by April he never left home without a servant. On one of his visits he was alone with his friend [Fortunata] and spoke to her in such a fatherly way that she almost burst into tears. Everything was going quite well and he presumed that “his chulita” had had time to appreciate his lessons and advice. Feijóo’s friendship displeased Maxi, although he couldn’t have said exactly why. But the strangest part was that after a month or so of this new life, even Fortunata began to enjoy Don Evaristo’s visits less. She continued to feel the same gratitude and affection for him, but she couldn’t help considering the presence of her former protector in that house a monstrosity. “Could it really be,” she wondered, “like what he said—that life is full of these unbelievable horrors! Just think—this is what it’s like! There’s the world you see and then there’s another one, hidden underneath…and the inside is making the outside the way it is. Well, I guess it makes sense after all, it’s not the face of the clock that runs, but what’s inside—what you can’t see.” [emphasis mine]

As Partridge puts it in his essay about Galdós’ writing, “At least two forces are always in conflict, shaping individual consciousness and making each person a part of the world he or she perceives.” There’s nothing earth-shattering in Galdós’ approach but he’s consistent in its application, which makes for plenty of fun reading.

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