Allegories of Decadence in Fin-De-Siecle Spain

Author: Anderson, Lara
This book examines the connections between national decadence and the figure of the female spendthrift in seven novels from the combined literary opus of Emilia Pardo Bazán (1851-1921) and Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920). A significant social phenomenon of this period was a prevailing sense of collective decline, and attempts by the Regenerationists to counter it through a spirit of reform aimed at bringing about Spain’s regeneration. One of the primary concepts inherent in this project was a perceived dichotomy between Spain and Europe and their corresponding correlates of old and new. It is against the backdrop of contrasts, specifically the tension between tradition and modernity, that the author analyzes the consuming women in Pardo Bazán’s and Pérez Galdós’ novels.


“ ... [this work] is a very welcome contribution to our understanding of a number of key texts by Pardo Bazán and Pérez Galdós, providing also original and important insights into the representation of Spanish modernity, gender, and nationhood during the ‘fin de siglo’. – (From the Preface) Professor Joyce Tolliver, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“ ... Among the many strengths of the book is the interesting manner in which it addresses complex issues that have no easy, clear answer. The contradictions those writers present in their texts are therefore dealt with, showing both clear thinking and original thought … the book offers a remarkable contribution to the study of those authors and of the social events that surrounded them.” – Professor Mercedes Maroto Camino, University of Auckland

“ ... Throughout her study, Anderson provides very detailed historical information, demonstrating an excellent understanding of the complexities of this period. Her work is well-argued and coherent, and makes an original contribution to work in the field of nineteenth-century Spanish literature and, more specifically, to the corpus of scholarly work on Emilia Pardo Bazán and Benito Pérez Galdós.” –Dr. Sarah Leggott, Victoria University of Wellington

Table of Contents

Preface (Joyce Tolliver)
Constructs of Consumerism, Details of Decadence
I. Diagnosing Decadence and Curing Consumerism
II. The Regeneration of the Nation and its National Legends
III. Lo cursi and National Decadence
IV. Emulation, Imitation and Decline Consuming Women as Allegory for National Decadence
V. Trade Deficit and Decadence
VI. Nations Destroyed and Built
Select Bibliography