UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The madrid novels of pereda Smith, Clifford

Abstract

José María de Pereda (I833-I906) lived most of his life at his house in Polanco, in Santander Province on the Cantabrian Coast. The greater part of his novels and stories are set in the towns and villages of this province, but throughout them, he was conscious of the influence that Madrid and its customs was exerting on the traditional way of life in the small centers of provincial society. His awareness of this social force is most clearly expressed in three long short stories and two full-length novels, Pedro Sánchez and La Montálvez, in which the principal setting is the Spanish capital city. These novels have never received the critical acclaim that is their due, because of the desire of many critics to judge them by non-literary criteria. This thesis studies Pereda's presentation of the historical background to the novels and his analysis of various aspects of Madrid life, especially the political system, the press and the attitudes of fashionable society to love and sex, to education and religion. His ideas on the aesthetics of art and on Spain's literary heritage give rise to certain trends in his narrative style; this and the technical accomplishment of the two full-length novels, is discussed at some length. A final section analyses his creation of characters and situations, and his treatment of themes in these two novels, in order to show that the real measure of his success is the host of characters, whom he made human and artistically credible.

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