UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Las novelas cortas de Emilia Pardo Bazán Kimball, Felisa Rosso


Toward the end of her career as a novelist, Emilia Pardo Bazán showed a preference for the short story and the short novel. The latter have been rather neglected by the critics whose attention has been drawn mainly by her novels of the so-called naturalistic period. The present thesis deals with Pardo Bazán's short novels written between 188^ and 1921, the majority of which appear in the first two decades of our century, coinciding with the flourishing of the genre in Spain. After an analysis of some points of view on the definition of the short novel as a genre, the present work surveys Pardo Bazán's opinion on the subject in the second chapter, and proceeds in the third to a study of plots and themes, characters and society, narrator's attitude and some of the salient aspects of her style. Studies on the Spanish short novel as a genre are almost non-existent. In fact one of the main obstacles encountered is the lack of a satisfactory definition, given the similarity of the short novel to the novel proper. There is, nonetheless, some consensus on the assumption that a certain kind of plot is the element that gives the short novel its distinguishing feature. This assumption leads to the possibility of defining the short novel as a narrative whose plot requires for its full development more words than a short story and less than a novel with all the structural changes its limits imply. The twenty-one short novels by Pardo Bazan are usually built around simple plots, sometimes even trivial ones, on contemporary themes, whose action unfolds rapidly. Her attention is evenly focused on the protagonist and his or her ambiance. Her plots are designed for the reader to draw a message from them, sometimes exposed explicitly and often reaching an open didacticism. She shows a preference for urban settings, mainly Madrid. Although her characters belongs to every social level, from beggars to aristocrats, she focuses her short novels on the middle class. The characters represent sometimes a certain social group, other certain human attitudes analysed individually. Fate appears like the reward or punishment for their behaviour. The omniscient narrator makes her presence felt in many ways. The more frequent is through statements which help the reader to grasp the message she wants to convey. In conclusion it is possible to affirm that Pardo Bazan's short novel is a prose fiction whose length varies between 10,500 and 25.000 words and whose structure share some elements with both the XIX century realistic novel and the short story. The development in a rather concentrated way of simple plots, requiring a good deal of analysis joint to a style strongly suggestive, produces this genre which takes advantage of such hibridization. The analytic intention of the novel and the characteristic concentration of the short story are skilfully allied and the balance between dialogue, narration, free indirect style and descriptions is admirably kept. As already stated the author's didactic intention is an important factor in these works and it is one that falls within the tendency of many a narrative in Spanish literature.

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