Death and the Crisis of Representation in Narcís Oller’s La Febre D’or and Pérez Galdós’s La de Bringas

Authored by: Elisa Martí-López

The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415722834
eBook ISBN: 9781315709895
Adobe ISBN:


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What comes to my mind when thinking about the nineteenth century is the critical and ideological possibilities – and dangers – of Iberian Studies. What new avenues of reflection are being opened up, and under what new and old constraints? The critical contributions of studies that aim to “congregar, confrontar” the work by Narcís Oller with that of Benito Pérez Galdós, or to study “las interrelaciones literarias dadas entre dos de las tradiciones peninsulares – la castellana y la catalana – ante una propuesta literaria específica como es el Realismo” (Arroyo 1998–1999, 18) are indeed relevant to the understanding of these two authors and the functioning of the Catalan and the Spanish literary systems. However, I find myself resisting the idea that the study of Iberia requires some sort of comparative approach, and uneasy discussing Oller and Galdós side by side within a critical paradigm whose practices and political implications for the study of the literatures and cultures of the Iberian Peninsula are unclear. Moreover, I think that these two authors’ interest in representing urban experience in the late nineteenth century claimed different allegiances, resorted to different narrative strategies, and resulted in highly different city imaginaries. I agree with Joan Gilabert and Joan Ramon Resina that these authors present diverging representations of the city: “la glorificación del presente” drives Oller’s writing of Barcelona, while Pérez Galdós’s concern was “el rechazo absoluto del pasado que es anacrónicamente presente” (Gilabert 1977, 157; see also Resina 1994–1995, 261).

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