Tristana from Benito Pérez Galdós () is a subversive novel that takes a sly look at the power structure in the relationships of its three. NYRB Classics has just reissued Tristana, an novel by the great Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós. Critic Juan Vidal says Tristana’s. Review by Tynan Kogane Why is Benito Pérez Galdós considered a very important nineteenth-century novelist if no one reads him anymore?.

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December 23, by Tynan Kogane. He is only rarely summoned from the purgatorial holding cell of dead and forgotten authors, and never definitively. How do you read and think about a so-called major writer whose literary reputation in the English-speaking world is either nonexistent, buried within academia, or the confusing punch line of a complicated tristanaa

An Aging Rake, An Ingenue, And A Strapping Young Painter In ‘Tristana’

These are two signposts that passionate readers would immediately notice: What perfect circumstances for the rediscovery of an all but forgotten Spanish novelist!

Expectations—and particularly these confused expectations—distort how a book is experienced: I came to the book not with scholarly erudition, but with a mixture of curiosity and ignorance—an idiosyncratic but perhaps apposite literary context.


But soon after finishing the script of Tristanathe project was halted due to complications with the Spanish censorship. Oddly, in an interview recorded many years later, he cryptically explained: The only thing that interested me was the detail of the amputated leg.

Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós | His Futile Preoccupations

And, of course, Tristana loses her leg during the course of the film. He holds her psychologically and financially captive, and makes outrageous threats like: I would prefer to end my life tragically than be a decrepit old cuckold. Nevertheless, within a few chapters, it comes as no surprise that Don Lope is quickly cuckolded. Unable to obtain hristana, Tristana invests all of her energy in love, or what she thinks might resemble love.

Their relationship develops and unfolds at a giddy, breakneck speed, fueled by the mushy vernacular of soap operas: Illusions sharpen the knife-edge of realism. Throughout the novel, Tristana learns the cruelty of consciousness, its setbacks and disappointments, and what it really means to live in a miserable world with a lecherous, selfish guardian, with no hope of escape, and finally, with bad health and bad luck.

Tristana falls firmly into the tradition of realism, but more specifically into the literature of illusions and disillusionments, which began with Don Quixote and continued through Stendhal and Flaubert, and all their hopeless heroes and heroines with big dreams and sorrowful endings. The critic and novelist Miguel de Unamuno commented, in an essay about Don Quixote—who, despite his skinny frame, cast the greatest shadow over Spanish literature: Instead of draining our happiness to the dregs, what we need now is some difficulty, some tiny crumb of misfortune.


A reader who is only partially invested in nineteenth-century realism and looking for this tristaa of story would be better off reading or rereading Madame Bovary and The Portrait of a Lady. Flaubert is an incomparably better craftsman and James is a much more subtle psychologist.

He was raised in Seattle and graduated from the New School.

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