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Definition: Pérez Galdós from Collins English Dictionary


1 Benito. 1843–1920, Spanish novelist. His works include the Episodios nacionales (1873–1912), a series of historical novels, and Fortunata y Jacinta (1886–87)

Summary Article: Pérez Galdós, Benito
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Spanish novelist. His works include the 46 historical novels in the cycle Episodios nacionales and the 21-novel cycle Novelas españolas contemporáneas, which includes Doña Perfecta 1876 and the epic Fortunata y Jacinta/Fortunata and Jacinta 1886–87, his masterpiece. In scale he has been compared to the French writer Honoré de Balzac and the English novelist Charles Dickens.

Style and themesFortunata y Jacinta is a magnificent study of class relations in Madrid as reflected in the marriage and affairs of a bourgeois youth. Pérez Galdós's novels are most memorable for their dialogue; he had a Dickensian gift for capturing mannerisms of speech and dialect, and his novels teem with vivid and unforgettable characters. In the best of his novels, his sense of humour and obvious affection for his characters counterbalance his resigned pessimism about human nature.

Life Pérez Galdós was born in Las Palmas, the Canary Islands; he was brought up in Madrid, and began writing 1868. His books exhibit a detailed knowledge of Madrid society in the 1870s and 1880s.

Work The Episodios nacionales, begun 1873, tell the history of Spain between the Battle of Trafalgar 1805 and the restoration of the monarchy 1874, attempting to retrace the birth of the modern Spanish nation in the 19th century. The other novels deal mainly with aspects of Madrid life and include La desheredada/The Disinherited Lady 1881, the tragic story of a young girl's delusions of grandeur; La de Bringas/The Spendthrifts 1884, an effective picture of the pretensions of court life; Miau 1888, the story of the madness and suicide of an idealistic civil servant; Angel Guerra 1891, a study of religious fanaticism and misplaced idealism; and the Torquemada series 1889–95, which traces the rise and fall of a self-made materialist in a society still ridden with aristocratic pretensions.

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