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La pasión esclava: Alianzas masoquistas en La Regenta

Nuria Godón

La pasión esclava addresses the masochist discursivity of La Regenta (1884–1885) by Leopoldo Alas, Clarín, as a subversive strategy of dominance and submission through which the foundations of liberal thinking on education, agency, and freedom of the modern subject are refuted. Differing from studies that prioritize the Freudian psychoanalytic focus and link masochism with perverse and passive behaviors, this book offers a pluralist approach, where cultural, clinical-historical, and literary perspectives are essential to relocate masochism to the area ofpassions, while emphasizing the agency and creativity upon which the discursive meaning of transgressive masochism in fin-de-siècle narrative is articulated. Nuria Godón shows how La Regenta challenges the models of partnership in modern society by displaying a reformulation of the masochist contract that parodies the marital contract, satirizes Rousseau’s social contract, and places the wheels of Krause’s educational machine under scrutiny. Likewise, she explores Catholicism’s impact on the masochist dynamic in other contemporary texts by authors such as Emilia Pardo Bazán and Armando Palacio Valdés, without excluding Leopold von Sacher-Masoch—the Austrian writer from whom the term masochism was coined—to further disclose how religion’s influence shapes the dialectic of female and filial masochism in the Spanish context represented in Alas’s masterpiece.In this sense, La pasión esclava invites oneto reconsider masochism as a tool that tears apart the mechanisms of gender subjection, which are observable not only in the Spanish literary texts analyzed in this book, but also in other cultural productions. 

La pasión esclava is the most important work on La Regenta to appear in recent years. Illuminating, superbly documented and stimulating, it offers a tightly argued analysis of the way La Regenta’s masochistic alliances defy gender roles, parody matrimonial contracts and offer the heroine, Ana Ozores, an alternative to the prison of sexual dissatisfaction of her marriage. Not since Louise Kaplan’s study of perversions in Madame Bovary have we had such a comprehensive picture of the way masochism functions in a literary text from a triple perspective that includes clinical-historical, cultural, and literary dimensions. Although it deals in depth with complex psychoanalytic theory, its accessible prose and methodical explanations make it available even to readers unfamiliar with the topic of masochism.”

—Lou Charnon-Deutsch, Stony Brook University

 Nuria Godón holds a Licenciatura in Hispanic philology from the University of Santiago de Compostela, and an MA and PhD in Spanish from the University of Colorado Boulder. Currently, she is an assistant professor in the Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature at Florida Atlantic University. Her research and publications address theories of masochism, feminism, sexuality, and cultural identities in Hispanic studies with a particular focus on Spanish modern peninsular literature and culture. 

PSRL 71. Paper. $45.00. e-Book available.

La pasión esclava: alianzas masoquistas en La Regenta is a cut above nearly everything published on the subject of Spain’s most canonical nineteenth-century novel, La Regenta. It ranks with the best work by noted scholars Jo Labanyi, Nöel Valis,  Stephanie Sieburth, Alison Sinclair, and others. La pasión esclava traces the way masochism functions in La Regenta, showing it to be, contrary to what some have argued,a subversive strategy. …  La pasión esclava, in sum, offers readers a comprehensive portrait of several models of masochism. — Lou Charnon-Deutsch, Hispanic Review. For the complete review see Hispanic Review 86.4 (Autumn 2018), 511–14.


Page last updated on 18 December 2018.

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