Ambiguous Angels: Gender in the Novels of Galdos

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The contradictory nature of the work of Benito Pérez Galdós, Spain's greatest modern novelist, is brought to the fore in Catherine Jagoe's innovative and rigorous study. Revising commonly held views of his feminism, she explores the relation of Galdós's novels to the "woman question" in Spain, arguing that after 1892 the muted feminist discourse of his early work largely disappears. While his later novels have been interpreted as celebrations of the emancipated new woman, Jagoe contends that they actually reinforce the conservative, bourgeois model of frugal, virtuous womanhood—the angel of the house.

Using primary sources such as periodicals, medical texts, and conduct literature, Jagoe's examination of the evolution of feminism makes Ambiguous Angels valuable to anyone interested in gender, culture, and narrative in nineteenth-century Europe.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520083561
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/8/1994
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Jagoe is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Northern Illinois University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Woman's Mission as Domestic Angel 13
Bourgeois Gender Ideology and the angel del hogar 13
Women Writers and the Domestic Ideal 31
Problems and Paradoxes 35
2 Galdos and the Woman Question 42
Galdos's Affiliations with the prensa femenina 42
Galdosian Reflections on Woman's Place 45
Engendering the Novel: Galdos's Vision of Realism 51
3 Suffering Women 56
Gender and Representation in the Early Novels 56
The Bird-Angel in Gloria 59
Leon Roch's Wife 73
4 Struggling with the Angel 85
Consuming Passions: Luxury and the Sexual Politics of Representation in the Contemporary Novels 85
In Search of the Ideal Woman: Educating Manso 95
The Angel in Mind: Rereading Fortunata y Jacinta 102
5 Gender Trouble 120
Feminism and the Fin de Siecle in Spain 120
Tristana and the "Legless Angel of Victorian Romance" 126
Seeing the Light: Halma's Conversation 140
6 New Women 156
Decadence and the New Woman 156
The novelas dialogadas: La loca de la casa and El abuelo 159
Teaching Women 166
Epilogue 177
Appendix 1. List of Galdos's Novels 185
Appendix 2. "La mision de la mujer" 187
Notes 191
Works Cited 217
Index 231
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