"The White Horse" and Other Stories

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Bucknell University Press, 1993 - Fiction - 163 pages
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"This is a collection of stories by Emilia Pardo Bazan (1851-1921), a Spanish author who often found the subject matter of her stories in the mysteries and vicissitudes of life. Some of her tales are fictional accounts of actual occurrences or people ("The Pardon," "A Galician Mother," and "The Lady Bandit"); others are a defense of women subjugated by a double standard ("The Guilty Woman" and "The Faithful Fiancee"); a number focus on the figure of the rural priest ("A Descendant of the Cid" and "Don Carmelo's Salvation," for example). One highly symbolic story - "The White Horse" - qualifies Pardo Bazan as the godmother of the Generation of 98, the group of writers who exhorted Spain to begin anew, ridding itself of inertia, apathy, and fixation on past glories. Several of the collected tales are like contemporary suspense thrillers (such as "The Cuff Link" and "The White Hair"), while many others reveal a keen psychological insight ("The Torn Lace," "The Substitute," "Scissors," "The Nurse," and "Rescue"). Pardo Bazan's themes are fear, love, hatred, forgiveness, cruelty, poverty, necrophilia, repentance, homesickness, and madness - that is, naked reality, bitter reality, and often an ugly, vicious reality." "One of the indisputable giants of the nineteenth-century short story is Guy de Maupassant. Pardo Bazan met him (along with Daudet and Zola) in France and considered him - author of "The Horla" - to be the master of short story writers. However, although Maupassant influenced her (most notably in psychological inquiry and careful attention to realistic detail), Pardo Bazan put her own stamp on her stories and developed a style sui generis, the most striking feature of which is brevity." "The essence of Pardo Bazan's approach is to engage the reader as quickly as possible, certainly in the first paragraph, frequently in the first few sentences. Some aspect of a character or an episode is brought to light and the story unfolds rapidly. There are third-person narratives in which the author occasionally injects herself or her point of view. Other narratives are presented wholly in the first person - some by an omniscient narrator, some by the "players"; and, from time to time, Pardo Bazan has someone else tell the story to her, and then as narrator she becomes the audience." "It is entirely plausible that some of her graphic descriptions were intended to blunt accusations of softness (i.e., femininity) that in her era would - foolishly, but automatically - have been associated with a woman writer. Still, when the time came to represent the plight of women - in terms of natural, understandable sexual needs and intellectual acceptance - Pardo Bazan captured the anguish and inferior status of her Spanish sisters."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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About the author (1993)

The Countess Emilia Pardo Bazan introduced the French naturalistic movement to Spain with The Burning Question (1881). While she recognized the excesses of naturalism in its exclusive concentration on the sordid aspects of life, she saw in it possibilities for directing the Spanish novel to social and political issues. The Son of the Bondwoman (Los Pasos de Ulloa, 1886), which deals with the degeneration of an aristocratic family, is naturalistic in subject and in its deterministic conclusion.

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