His Only Son: With Doña Berta

His Only Son: With Doña Berta

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Overview

The unlikely hero of His Only Son, Bonifacio Reyes, is a romantic and a flautist by vocation—and a failed clerk and kept husband by necessity—who dreams of a novelesque life. Tied to his shrill and sickly wife by her purse strings, he enters timidly into a love affair with Serafina, a seductive second-rate opera singer, encouraged by her manager who mistakes Bonifacio for a potential patron. Meanwhile, Bonifacio’s wife experiences a parallel awakening and in the midst of a long-barren marriage, surprises them both with a son—but is it Bonifacio’s? In the accompanying novella, Doña Berta, the heroine of the title, an aged, poor, but well-born woman, forfeits her beloved estate in search of a portrait that may be all that remains of the secret love of her life.

While largely unknown outside of Spain, Leopoldo Alas was one of the most celebrated writers of criticism in nineteenth-century Spain and employed his satirical talents to powerful and humorous effect in fiction. His Only Son was Alas’s second and final novel, full of characteristic humor, naturalistic detail, descriptive beauty, and moral complexity. His frail and pitiful characters—irrational, emotional actors drawn inexorably toward their foolish fates—are yet multidimensional individuals, often conscious of their own weaknesses and stymied by their very yearnings to be more than the parts they find themselves playing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681370187
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Leopoldo Alas (1852–1901) was the son of a government official, born in Zamora, Spain. He attended the University of Oviedo and the University of Madrid, receiving a doctorate in law. A novelist and writer of short stories who adopted the pseudonym Clarín (Bugle), Alas was one of Spain’s most influential literary critics. He became a professor of law at the University of Oviedo in 1883 and published his first and best-known novel, La Regenta, in 1884; his second novel, Su único hijo (His Only Son), was published in 1890. He died in Oviedo at the age of forty-nine.

Margaret Jull Costa has been a literary translator for nearly thirty years and has translated works by novelists such as Eça de Queiróz, José Saramago, Javier Marías, and Fernando Pessoa, as well as poets such as Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen and Ana Luísa Amaral. She has won various prizes, most recently the 2015 Marsh Award for Children’s Fiction in Translation for Bernardo Atxaga’s The Adventures of Shola. In 2013 she was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2014 was awarded an Order of the British Empire for services to literature. In 2015 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Leeds.

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