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Conflicts and Conciliations: The Evolution of Galdós's Fortunata y Jacinta

Geoffrey Ribbans

Between 1881 and 1897, Benito Pérez Galdós, generally acknowledged as Spain's greatest nineteenth-century novelist, composed some twenty "contemporary" novels, which Geoffrey Ribbans characterizes as the peak of his achievement. This monumental study traces the evolution of the many strands that make up one of them: the long and complex novel Fortunata y Jacinta.

Ribbans examines the various stages of composition, not only the earlier, reconstructed Alpha version but also subsequent revisions in the much-corrected handwritten text as well in the printer's galleys. He treats these tentative drafts not in isolation but as part of the process of reaching out toward the coherent definitive text.

Ribbans's analysis of such devices as the ambiguous role of the narrator, the use of free indirect style and direct dialogue, and the construction of distinctive ideolects leads to the heart of his study, the development of Galdós's characters. This discussion, which is expanded to include the interaction of the characters with the society and politics of their time and their integration into the topography of Madrid, focuses particularly on the two female protagonists. Ribbans's examination uncovers a structural pattern of contrasting, highly developed characters, all interacting and contributing to an intricate network of social involvement.

"There is no doubt that the scope of this work is unparalleled in the history of published studies on Galdós' greatest novel, as is also the critical methodology used by Ribbans....his book is a masterpiece of careful, discriminating criticism.... This book will illuminate generations of Galdós scholars, not just for the discrimination of its critical judgments but also, given its comprehensive nature, as the equivalent of a work of reference on Fortunata y Jacinta....Such a status is a rare achievement in a critical study, especially in a beautifully crafted piece of writing...." James Whiston, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

For a complete review, see Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 76 (1999): 328-29.

"...a magnificent study, displaying all the virtues galdosistas have come to expect and admire from its author: impeccable scholarship in the sifting and evaluation of textual evidence, a descriptive and discursive style that is absorbing and well as managing to transmit an enormous amount of factual detail together with well-reasoned commentary.... Undoubtedly destined to become the authoritative study on Galdos's masterpiece for years to come....The most innovative feature of Conflicts and Conciliations, however, is its comprehensive examination of the evolution of the text of Fortunata y Jacinta through the five stages of composition....there can be no doubt that the prime beneficiaries of this study will be the novices joining the Order of Galdosistas, who will have at their disposal an exquisitely delicate instrument with which to diagnose their initial readings of the text." Peter A. Bly, Anales Galdosianos

For a complete review, see Anales Galdosianos 33 (1998): 103-13.

"...Conflicts and Conciliations, for all of the engaging and appealing manner in which it is written, remains a serious work of scholarship to be read slowly and with utmost care.... Geoffrey Ribbans's latest volume, and last before the retirement from his professorship at Brown University, demonstrates once more his profound knowledge of the modern period of peninsular Spanish literature." Ricardo Landeira, Hispania

For a complete review, see Hispania 82 (May 1999): 253-54.

"All present and future scholars of Benito Pérez Galdós will have to take this painstakingly researched book into account." G. Pozzi, Choice

For a complete review, see Choice (May 1999): 1625.

"A partir del capítulo cuatro, Geoffrey Ribbans pasa a analizar lo que visiblemente más le interesa en la novela: los personajes y cómo se relacionan.... Para darse cuenta de la originalidad del libro de Geoffrey Ribbans, hay que fijarse en el subtítulo.... Geoffrey Ribbans pone de manifiesto hasta qué punto el proceso creativo galdosiano se caracteriza por una dinámica progresiva.... Los análisis detenidos y refinados de Geoffrey Ribbans que nos remite una y otra vez a los textos y pre-textos de Fortunata y Jacinta, libro que parece saberse de memoria, convencen al lector, si falta hiciera, de la vanidad de los exclusivismos críticos ante esta obra maestra. Ningún estudio serio se podrá hacer ya sobre Fortunata y Jacinta sin diálogo crítico previo con el libro del profesor Ribbans." Lieve Behiels, Foro Hispánico

For a complete review, see Foro Hispánico 17 (Mar. 2000): 130-31.

"Nos hace sonrojar a los criticos, que no dudariamos en afirmar lo que [Ribbans] sugiere.... El primer capítulo, "Structure," presenta en detalle las etapas en que fue compuesta la obra: la denominada versión Alfa, el primer borrador; la Beta, de donde se imprimió la novela: las galeradas, que fueron extensamente corregidas, como era costumbre en la época, por el autor; unas páginas sueltas; y la primera edición de la novela (1887). Este es un material excelente, presentado con extrema claridad, y que luego es usado a lo largo de todo el libro.... Libro importante, pues, que sintetiza una época de estudios del galdosismo, dejándonos al umbral de una visión compensada del escritor canario, pues el estudio de los manuscritos y galeradas permite entrar en ese espacio de la creación donde la novela se hace en libertad." Germán Gullón, Hispanic Review

For the complete review, see Hispanic Review 68 (2000): 331-32.

"Conflicts and Conciliations is clearly a definitive survey of the novel's characters from a cause-and-effect point of view, well informed by the bulk of the work of critics that have preceded it. It is impeccably researched and written." Lou Charnon-Deutsch, author of Gender and Representation: Women in Spanish Realist Fiction

Formerly Gilmour Professor of Spanish at the University of Liverpool and editor of the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Geoffrey Ribbans is the Kenan University Professor of Hispanic Studies at Brown University. He has written extensively on the Generation of '98 and on the novels of Pérez Galdós.

ISBN: 978-1-55753-108-7
1997. Vol. 14. xvi, 352 pp. Cloth $29.95 PRICE REDUCED