Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cross-references in Galdós novels: I think I hit the jackpot

One of the many remarkable qualities of Galdós is his use of characters across many of his novels. I’ve mentioned one of these repeating characters before, the Madrid doctor Alejandro Miquis. I’m reading Angel Guerra (Pérez, Galdós Benito. A Translation of "Angel Guerra" by Benito Pérez Galdós. Lewiston [N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1990.), translated by Karen O. Austin, and Dr. Miquis appears yet again, this time tending to Angel’s sick mother Doña Sales. Ms. Austin provides a footnote on this character’s recurring nature and his basis on a real-life friend of Galdós but I’m going to point to this article on Manuel Tolosa Latour, “famous pediatrician, author of scientific and literary works, and long-time friend of the novelist.” Galdós would send letters to Tolosa Latour addressed to Miquis and, likewise, Tolosa Latour would sign some of his letters to Galdós as “Miquis.”

We hit the jackpot of recurring characters on pages 66-7 of the translated Angel Guearra, when a servant in Doña Sales’ house tells Angel who was visiting earlier in the evening:
The Santa Cruz and Medina ladies were around earlier, and the Marchioness of Taramundi. And Canon León is staying in the house while he’s here; but at night, after he’s eaten, he usually goes on over to visit Mr. and Mrs. Bringas.”

Santa Cruz refers to either Jacinta or her mother-in-law (Doña Barbarita Arnáiz) or possibly/probably both (Austin assumes both but I’m not completely sold given the ambiguity of the structure of the sentence. Maybe it’s clearer in the original.) Something didn’t feel right about their inclusion but I double-checked the dates of the referenced novel (which ends in the spring of 1876) and it’s conceivable that both could be part of this scene in October 1886. The Bringas reference (see here) is nice. I know they will be mentioned in at least one other translated Galdós novel I plan to post about. The inclusion I really love is of Canon León. León Pintado was a priest at the Micaelas, where Fortunata went to ‘cleanse herself’ (or at least her reputation) before her wedding to Maxi (see page 333 of the translation of Fortunata and Jacinta by Agnes Moncy Gullón for his first appearance). I knew my outline of the book would come in handy. Galdós perfectly fills in the gaps of how a jealous priest became a high-ranking canon.

I’m always amazed at Galdós’ talents, especially the world and characters he created. I think he took pride in it, too, given his direct reference on page 91 of Angel Guerra to his previous mention of León Pintado:

He was (as those who know the story of Fortunata may recall) stout and elegant, fairly well along in years, affable and conciliatory, a bit vain in his dress, of absolute intellectual and moral insignificance, a smoother-over of troubled waters, a man who liked to be on good terms with everyone, especially with those in high places.

A direct reference, early in this massive novel, to the world he created in another massive novel. I guess you can be ballsy when you have done each well.

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