Consuming women: Decadence or regeneration in the Spain of Emilia Pardo Bazán and Benito Pérez Galdós
Abstract (Summary)Restricted Item. Print thesis available in the University of Auckland Library or available through Inter-Library Loan. This thesis examines 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), all published between 1881 and 1905. A significant social phenomenon of this period, apparent in most aspects of Spanish society, culture and politics, was a pervading sense of collective decline, and the attempt 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 movement, and to the efforts of a number of non-Regenerationists (including Pardo Bazán and Pérez Galdós) who were nevertheless influenced by it, was a perceived dichotomy between Spain and Europe and their corresponding concepts of old and new. It is against this backdrop of contrasts-specifically the tension between tradition and modernity-that I have analysed the women who shop, or consuming women, as portrayed in the following novels: Pardo Bazán's Las memorías de un solterón (1896); El Niño de Guzmán (¿1897?); El tesoro de Gastón (1897) and La Quimera (1905); Pérez Galdós' La desheredada (1881); La de Bringas (1884); and Lo prohibido (1884-85). Drawing on critical perspectives offered by disciplines such as history, feminism, sociology, political economy, art and literary studies, fly study attempts to portray and explain the relationship between the everyday act of shopping and the Regenerationist concept of Spanish decadence. In support of this approach, I have focused in different chapters on the following range of topics: disease, landscapes of regeneration, political stagnation, emulative consumerism, the pursuit of artistic authenticity, economic decline and nineteenth-century constructs of femininity. By working across boundaries, my thesis seeks to add an innovative dimension to the existing nexus of insightful scholarly criticism of Pérez Galdós' fictional female spendthrift, and to draw attention to the similar, yet all but ignored, figure in Pardo Bazán's novels. In doing so, this work also sheds light on the complex and often contradictory beliefs held by two of nineteenth-century Spain's most important authors, in regards to their nation's pervasive sense of collective decline, or decadence.
School Location:New Zealand
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2004