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Naturalism: the stimulus for Pardo Bazan's artistry with nicknames.

The recent study "Pardo Bazan's Literary Use of Three Uniquely Personal Nicknames: Gedeon, Surena, and Feita" (Chamberlin 35-45) has demonstrated that Dona Emilia achieved a sophisticated artistry with sobriquets that differentiated her from her contemporaries, Galdos and Leopoldo Alas. However, this achievement was not immediate. In fact, in her first two novels (Pascual Lopez 1879 and Un viaje de novios 1881) there is in each only very slight utilization of two nicknames. It is not until her third novel, La tribuna (1883), that nicknaming can be considered an important aspect of her creativity. The aim of the present study is to demonstrate that naturalism, especially with its emphasis on human and animal comparisons, was the aesthetic that stimulated the countesses' interest in and successful employment henceforth of sobriquets. Additionally, we shall show how the women workers of La Coruna's tobacco factory vented their political opinions through nicknaming, and also how the newspaper-nicknamed, title protagonist resisted animalization by becoming a workers' advocate.

Before writing La tribuna, Pardo Bazan had become attracted to Zolaesque Naturalism, which stimulated her to write a series of twenty articles between November 1882 and April 1883 for the Madrid newspaper La Epoca. These weekly contributions, drawing heavily on Zola's critical works Le Roman experimental (1880) and Les Romanciers naturalistes (1881) were collected and published as La cuestion palpitante (1883). Her next step was to follow Galdos's lead of 1881, when he created the first Spanish Naturalist novel La desheredada (1881), and write her own Naturalist novel.

From the Naturalists, Pardo Bazan learned the importance which members of that school gave to preliminary, precise documentation. Zola is well known for his notebooks of extensive preparatory documentation; however, Pardo Bazan says that "[Edmundo] Goncourt fue el primero que llamo documentos humanos a los hechos que el novelista observa y acopia para fundar en ellos sus creaciones" (Cuestion 233). Thus, as she relates in her Apuntes autobiograficos, Dona Emilia was motivated to spend with the women workers of La Coruna's tobacco factory, "dos meses manana y tarde, oyendo conversaciones, delineando tipos, cazando al vuelo frases y modos de sentir" (74).

Like other Naturalists, Pardo Bazan had great sensitivity to the brutal, denigrating conditions of most nineteenth century workplaces. She affirmed that "El verdadero infierno social a que puede bajar el novelista [...] es la fabrica. [...] !Pobres mujeres las de la Fabrica de la Coruna! Nunca se me olvida todo lo bueno instintivo que note en ellas, su natural rectitud, y caridad espontanea. Capaces son de dar hasta la camisa si ven una lastima como ellas dicen" (Apuntes 76).

Twelve years. The popularity of Physiognomy and Zoology in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century stimulated Balzac to state in the "Avant-Propos" to his Comeie Humaine that the basic idea for his vast panorama "vint d'dune comparaison entre l'Humanite et l'Aninmalite." (7). Believing that there are social species analogous to animal species. Balzac described himself as "docteur en medicine social, le veterinaire de maux incurables" ("Dedicace" 53). Critics are in genral agreement with Zola that Balzac was, in fact, the first Naturalist. Zola also believed that the Naturalist novel should have an abundence of animal-like characters and in the preface to his first novel, Therese Raquin (1868), he states that the two protagonists "sont des brute humaine, rien de plus" (319). Twelve years later he announced the animality of the protagonist in the title of another novel, Le Bete humaine (1890). With so many characters resembling animals in behavior and / or appearance, it is understandable that, as occurs in every-day, non-fiction life, some characters in both Balzac and Zola would receive animal based nicknames. (1) Even before the advent of Naturalisnm, the verisimilitude of the late nineteenth century novel, as has been demonstrated, often reflected the dynamics of nicknaming as an important facet of personal interactions. (2)

Zola also gave emphasis to unfortunate heredity with the creation of various novels dealing with the vast Rougon-Macquart family. Often unfortunate heredity (as in L'Assommoir [1877]) could cause his protagonists to have difficulty coping with life's problems, consequently struggling in an increasingly difficult environment that forced them to act more and more like animals.

However, Pardo Bazan had no need to concern herself with heredity, because the "verdadero infernal social" of La Coruna's tobacco factory was already having its devestating effects on the unfortunates who must, of economic necessity, toil in such an environment. She highlights one man, whose health has been completely ruined by alloting him a separate chapter titled "Aquel Animal." Here "Chinto" (<Jacinto) is seen as "estrujado, prensado, zarandeado y pisotado al mismo tiempo. Le habia calificado y definido ya: era un mulo, y nada mas que un mulo" (XII, 121).

The more numerous women workers have also been likewise afflicted, and this is reflected in their nicknames. For example, like Galdos in Misericordia (XXI, 193), Pardo Bazan finds "Comadreja" an appropriate nickname. Thus we see, unlike Galdos, who gives no physical description: (3) "[D]escarnada y puntiagudo de hocico, llamabanle en el taller la Comadreja, mote felicisimo que da exacta idea de su figura y movimientos. Bien sabia ella lo del apodo, pero ya se guardarian de repetirselo en su cara, o si no ... Ana tenia por verdadero nombre y a pesar de su delgadez y pequenez, era una fierecilla a quien nadie osaba irritar" (XI, 116). "La Comadreja" remains a close friend of the protagonist, Amparo Rosendo, throughout the novel, where only the narrator can have no fear of applying the nickname, which she does 38 times.

Another animal-like character, and one disliked by her co-workers--because she has succumbed to the Protestant missionaries in order to receive material benefits--is "Pitinga" The narrator explains: "[P]or el color de su tez biliosa y de su lacio pelo, por lo sombrio y zafio del mirar, [la] llamaban Pintiga, nombre que dan en el pais a cierta salamandra manchada de amarillo y negro" (XXIV, 183). Also referred to as "la protestanta" (XXIV, 183, and passim), her animal-based nickname is more important, occuring seven times, three of which are by the narrator, and four by co-workers.

An additional character, coming to the foreground only as a solo dancer during the factory-workers celebration of Carnival is "La Mincha, barrendera vieja, pequena, redonda como una tinaja" (XXII, 169). Benito Varela Jacome glosses this sobriquet: "Apodo que significa pequena de cuerpo. Aqui parece significar pequena, redonda y achaparrada en comparacion con el pequeno caracol marino, adherido a las rocas, llamado mincha en gallego" (XXII, 169, n. 50). Pardo Bazan tells in her Apuntes autobiograficos of witnessing such a Carnival dancer, but there she neither shares a nickname nor animalizes this woman (76-77). These facets of characterization are saved for La tribuna, where they complement the animalization and sobriquets of the other factory workers.

Yet another worker is seen by the title protagonist when she accepts "Chinto's" invitation to visit the tobacco barn. "Senora Porcona" sports a now-attenuated, but swine-based, nickname meaning "sucia, desalinada" (Varela Jacome 164, n. 48). She has worked with tobacco ever since the state-owned factory opened and now is a physical wreck: "[Con] voz temblosa como el balido de la cabra, [...] parecia tener los parpados en carne viva y los labios blancos y colgantes, con lo cual hacia la mas extrana y espantable figura del mundo" (XXI, 164). Amparo, the protagonist, reacts strongly, "horrorizaba de aquella imagen [...] que le parecia como vaga vision del porvenir" (XXI, 165).

From the factory women, whom she greatly pitied and admired, Pardo Bazan may also have learned about Pepa, the midwife who assists them when they become pregnant. Although Amparo does not need her services until much later, the midwife is introduced early in La Tribuna:

Pepa la comadrona, por mal nombre senora Porreta. Era esta mujer colosal, mas a lo ancho que a lo alto; pareciase a tosca estatua labrada a ser vista de lejos. Su cara enorme, circuida por colgante papada, tenia palidez serosa. Calzaba zapatillitas de hombre y usaba una sortija, de tamano varonil tambien, en el dedo menique. (II, 70).

This character's nickname, as in the case of some of Galdos's personajes, comes from her muletilla. (4) Walter Borenstein, glosses the comadrona's speech tag and sobriquet "Porreta" as "a colloquial expression that means 'stark naked'" (253, n. 6). As occurs in many Naturalist birth scenes, Amparo has a very difficult time in a seamy, sordid environment. (5) For the first time now, we see the midwife--with her large greasy hands--exclaiming "!porreta!" (XXXVII, 263-65), while the only sound from the suffering protagonist is "un clamor ya exhausto, que mas se parecia al aullido del animal expirante que a la queja humana" (XXXVII, 265). Pardo Bazan had not elucidated the origin of the widwife's sobriquet earlier, thus achieving greater emotional impact by waiting to demonstrate the dynamics occasioning the nickname until the crucial scene just described. (6) Although "porreta" might be appropriate to describe a forthcoming baby, it may well be that the last thing the deceived, unmarried mother in labor needs to hear is the equivalent of "stark naked." In any case, Naturalist debasement is effected by having the midwife resemble a repulsive male veterinarian assisting at an animal-like birth.

In her Apuntes autobiograficos Pardo Bazan reveals that before undertaking her novel, she was curious about the political views of the factory workers:

Quien pasee la carretera de mi pueblo natal al caer la tarde, encontrara a docenas grupos de operarias de la Fabrica de cigarros, que salen del trabajo [...] ?Habra una novel bajo esos trajes de percal y esos raidos mantones? [...] Un dia recorde que aquellas mujeres, morenas, fuertes, de aire resuelto, habian sido las mas ardientes sectarias de la idea federal en los anos revolucionarios, y pareciome curioso estudiar el desarrollo de una creencia politica en un cerebro de hembra, a la vez catolica y demagoga, sencilla por naturaleza y empujada al mal por la fatalidad de la vida fabril. De este pensamiento nacio mi tercera novela, La Tribuna. (74)

In her novel Pardo Bazan answers the above questions. Her fictional proletariat, whose prototypes had been pro-Federal Republic advocates, do have strong political feelings and find motes useful in expressing their dislike of individuals of other political persuasions. One such is the prominent politician and orator, "[Salustiano] Olozaga, llamandole, el viejo del borrego, porque andaba el muy indino buscando un rey no nos hacia falta ... solo por cogerse el para si embajadas y otras prebendas" (IX, 107). Additionally, they also ventilate aggressive feelings as they participate in the nationwide antiestablishment nickname for the Italianimported king, Amadeo I: "ese Macarroni" (XXXII, 228; XXXVII, 261), and for his wife, "desdenosamente la Cisterna" (XXV, 248).

Importantly, Amparo Rosundo, the protagonist, does not have an animal-based nickname. She has not worked long enough in the tobacco factory to have ruined her health; but, as already noted, when seeing the emaciated "Porcona," she does perceive what her future may hold. Thus it is understandable that she should become dedicated to advocating better working conditions for all the employees. Amparo does not receive her nickname until chapter 18, which is entitled "Tribuna del pueblo." In this chapter, Amparo delivers an impassioned speech from an elevated tribune or speaker's platform. The kindly patriarch of the liberal political rally enthusiastically hails her as the "Tribuna del pueblo" (XVIII, 153). Amparo is unaware that she has thus acquired a nickname until a friend so informs her later. This friend also asserts that the sobriquet is widely known, because "la Tribuna" is the appellation by which Amparo is acclaimed in the newspapers. With enthusiasm and pride Amparo accepts the apodo (XXVIII, 205). Subsequently, she even uses it self -referentially, when she mistakenly believes that Baltazar Sobrado truly wants to marry her, and that she may thus be able to flaunt an upper-class rival with "la dejaba por la Tribuna; !por la Tribuna!" (XXXII, 226). Amparo's sobriquet occurs 55 times in La Tribuna, with the narrator using also an adjectival variation when she speaks of Amparo's "firmeza tribunicia" (XXI, 217) and her "tribunicia frase" (XXIX, 208). Pardo Bazan's choice of this nickname is most appropriate considering the tumultuous fictional time of La Tribuna, which includes the liberal revolution of 1868, the reign of Amadeo I, and the founding of the First Republic. Moreover, it proves appropriate for a focus on the workers' movement (frequently of interest to the Naturalists), because it anticipates one of the nicknames of V.I. Lenin, as well as the several huge paintings which feature the founder of the Russian Communist Party on the tribune (Lunacharsky 4). Moreover, Lenin himself said, "The Socialist's ideal should not be a trade-union secretary, but a tribune of the people, able to explain [...] to all and everyone the historical significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat" ("Lenin" 1). It is to a similar role that Amparo dedicates herself.

Amparo appears again thirteen years later in Memorias de un solteron (1896), where proletariat nicknames, first generated in La Tribuna, carry over into the countess' post-Naturlist period. The former tobacco factory worker is still known by her sobriquet, and her nowgrown son, Ramon Sobrado, has acquired his unwed mother's enthusiasm for the workers' movement. In fact, he has become the city's foremost labor activist--and he also carries a proletariat nickname: "el companero" (X, 170 and passim). Like fellow-Galician Pablo Iglesias, who founded Spain's Socialist Party in 1879, Pardo Bazan's "socialista" (X, 170 and passim) is also a printer. Pardo Bazan's consistent presentation of "el companero" as the most admirable of persons is undercut only after he has forced Baltazar Sobrado to marry his mother, "La Tribuna," whereby he himself acquires wealth and social status. Only then does this "corresponsal" of Pablo Iglesias (XXIII, 277) abandon his worker's dress for upper-class finery, ride in a carriage, and flout his new social status (XIII, 277). It will be remembered that Pardo Bazan considered herself not only a Catholic, but also a Christian Socialist until the end of her life (Hilton 18). Perhaps she had seen humor-evoking transformations similar to that of her "el companero." In any case, the nickname of the son of "la Tribuna" is socially and historically appropriate in Memorias de un solteron, serving as one of the techniques used by the narrator and other characters in the presentation and delineation of Ramon Sobrado.

In summation, we see that in her first sustained use of characterization employing animal imagery and animal--based sobriquets, Pardo Bazan succeeded in depicting the status of women workers in the government--owned tobacco factory of La Coruna. She further championed women's rights in La Tribuna (1883) by withholding an animal-based nickname and substituting a proletariat-based one for her young activist protagonist. Analogous to Zola, who was in the habit of following the most shocking of his Naturalistic works with an idealistic one, Pardo Bazan chose in her fourth novel El Cisne de Vilamorta (1885) to "tone down her Naturalisnm to regain public esteem" (Pattison 49). As part of this endeavor, she will change her focus and techniques--but not her rich employment of nicknames.



Baguley, David. Naturalist Fiction: The Entropic Vision. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 1990.

Balzac, Honore de. "Avant-Propos." La Comedie humaine. Bibliotheque de la Pleiade. Vol. 1. Paris: Gallimard.

Borenstein, Walter. Trans. The Tribune of the People. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1999.

Chamberlin, Vernon. "Animal Imagery and the Protagonist in Galdos's Nazarin and Misericordia." Hispanic Journal 10 (1988): 7-14.

--. "The Muletilla: An Important Facet of Galdos's Characterization Technique." Hispanic Review 29 (1961): 296-30.

--. "Verosimilitud y humorismo de los apodos en Fortunata y Jacinta," Actas del quinto congreso internacional de estudios galdosianos (1992), 59-65.

--. "Pardo Bazan'a Literary Use of Three Uniquely Personal Nicknames: "Gedeon," "Surina," and "Feita." Anales Galdosianos 46 (2011): 35-45.

Hilton, Ronald. "Dona Emilia Pardo Bazan, Neo-Catholicism and Christian Socialism." The Americas XI (1954): 3-18.

"Lenin-"The Tribune of the People." Online posting 31 Dec. 2007 http://www.geocities/ com/Capitol\Hill/Lobby/2072/AOVol 4-2Lenin.htm?2000731 2008.

"Lunacharsky on Lenin." Online posting 3 Jan. 2008. lunarch/works/silhouet/lenin.htm

"Mouche." Dictionnaire de l'argot francais et de ses origins. 9th. ed. Paris: Larousse, 1990.

Pattison, Walter. Emilia Pardo Bazan. New York: Twayne, 1971.

Pardo Bazan, Emilia. "Apuntes autobiograficos." Los pazos de Ulloa. Novela Original, precedida de unos Apuntes autobiograficos". Barcelona: Daniel Cortezo, 1886. 5-78.

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(1) For example, in La Terre (1887) the minor character Michael Fouan has the nickname "Mouche" (fly) (782 and passim). In this instance Zola does not follow his frequent custom of explaining individual sobriquets, but the Dictionnaire de l'argotfrancais et de ses origins informs that the word "exprime une appreciaton negative au physique ou au moral" (537). Although it does not lead to a sobriquet, the negativity of "mouche' is at play already in Nana (1880), when the journalist Leon Fauchery so designates the eponymous protagonist, who has wrecked so many lives. He affirms that she is: a fly, a sun-colored fly that has risen from the dung, a fly that sucks in death on the carrion left to rot on the roadside and then, buzzing, dancing, glittering, like a precious stone, flies through the windows of the palaces and poisons the people inside by merely lighting on them. (qtd. in Walker 146.)

"Mouche" is also one of eight animal-based appellations used by Balzac in the Comedie humaine (Therien 197).

(2) Chamberlin "Nicknames" (75).

(3) For the appropriateness of the Galdosian nickname "Comadreja," in spite of no physical description, see Chamberlin, "Animal Imagery" (10).

(4) A prime Galdosian example concerns Dona Candida, Viuda de Garcia Grande, in El amigo Manso. For details concerning her nickname "Dona Cosa Atroz" and its origin in the muletilla "Es una cosa atroz," see Chamberlin, "Muletilla" (303).

(5) Zola's best known example is Adele in Pot-Bouille (ctd. in Baguley 253. n. 31).

(6) The withholding of important matter until the moment of maximum emotional impact is one of Pardo Bazan's very effective techniques. For another successful example, see the short story El tranvia, where the blindness of the poor woman's baby is withheld until the final sentence (181).
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Author:Chamberlin, Vernon A.
Publication:Romance Notes
Date:May 1, 2013
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