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Negotiating modernity in multicultural Spain: Emilia Pardo Bazan's una cristiana and la prueba.

Emilia Pardo Bazan's novel Una cristiana and its sequel, La prueba, both from 1890, present curious and at times disconcerting representations of Spain. Some critics have drawn attention to the seemingly obvious anti-Semitism of both works and by extension attributed the offensive language and opinions to the author herself. (1) This essay explores the function of three characters, the "Christian" Carmen Aldao, the "Jew" Felipe Unceta, and the "Arab" Silvestre Moreno, in the twinned novels in order to understand better what they have to say about contemporary Spain. To do so, it will necessarily highlight the mediation of the first-person narrator whose words construct and project the novels' representations of Spain's three cultural traditions and the thoughts, emotions, and actions these individuals arouse in him. In short, the essay asks what Pardo Bazan's multicultural cast of characters communicates about late nineteenth-century Spain. In so doing, it proposes a different reading of the novels' perceived anti-Semitism and emphasizes the significance of her use throughout both works of a first-person narrator, Salustio Melendez Unceta, to question the equation of author and narrative voice. At the end of the second novel, the narrator clarifies that he has written "una especie de novela o autobiografia" which recounts "aquello tan raro ... no se si le llame amor ... que tuve con la mujer de mi difunto tio Felipe" (La prueba 197). (2) Critics have tended to accept his assessment that this is a tale of love, rather than taking into consideration the broader issues it raises. (3) In fantasizing a tia or titi who incarnates his desires (107), Salustio reveals his unreliability as narrator.

The language of both Una cristiana and La prueba is that of their first-person narrator, except where he reports directly the speech or opinions of other characters. Nevertheless, there are times when the author's voice appears to intrude into the narrative, momentarily suspending the illusion that Salustio is the sole author of his own text. For a man without sisters, or apparently any other relations than his reclusive mother and his bachelor uncle, Salustio is exceedingly well informed about gift-giving: "mil fruslerias inutiles, que solo se compran o venden a pretexto de santos y bodas" (87). He is similarly surprisingly opinionated about flowers: "Las ya insufribles y acartonadas begonias" (91). Many of the novels' maxims or pronouncements flow more comfortably from Pardo Bazan's pen than that of a university student, as when Salustio displays an unexpectedly profound acquaintance with human nature: "Por mucho que descendamos a bucear en ese abismo laberintico llamado el corazon del hombre, jamas lograremos desentranar la causa de ciertos inconfesables sentimientos" (90). Nevertheless, the narrative form presents both works as the product of Salustio's mind and encounters, freeing the author to challenge current cultural practices and institutions from the distance of a young male engineering student's more limited experience of life.

Despite the title Una cristiana, the two novels offer a range of examples of Christian women, including an embodiment of New Testament Christianity, a wrathful and vengeful Christian in the Old Testament tradition, and a counterpoint to the Catholic women, a Protestant. Luis Portal expounds to Salustio on the major point the twinned novels seem to be making about the place and role of women in Spanish society of the day. The first part of his impassioned speech is worth quoting in full since it pithily summarizes the dramatic tension Pardo Bazan achieves:
      es un fenomeno muy comun entre nosotros los espanoles,
   que creyendo de buena fe preparar y desear el porvenir,
   vivimos enamorados del pasado, y somos siempre, en el
   fondo, tradicionalistas acerrimos, aunque nos llamemos
   republicanos. Lo que te encanta y atrae en la senora de tu tio
   Felipe, es precisamente aquello que menos se ajusta a tus
   ideas, a tus convicciones y a tu modo de ser como hombre
   de tu siglo. Me sales con que la senorita de Aldao realiza el
   ideal de la mujer cristiana.... El ideal para nosotros debiera
   ser la mujer contemporanea, o mejor dicho la futura: una
   hembra que nos comprendiese y comulgase en aspiraciones
   con nosotros. Diras que no existe. Pues a tratar de fabricarla.
   Nunca existira si la condenamos antes de nacer. (155)

Here is where the narrative perhaps captures most lucidly Pardo Bazan's own sentiments regarding Spain's future and the effort required to produce it, and it is not Salustio, but his classmate, who ventriloquizes it. On one level, Una cristiana attempts to justify the labeling of a "Jew" and an "Arab" as ethnic types by certain characters, while it more explicitly complicates the characterization of Carmen as the eponymous cristiana. On another level, the construction of identity, Christian or Jewish, exists primarily as a product of Salustio's imagination, deriving from his cultural experience, knowledge of art, and regional Galician imaginary. At different times he replicates many of his mother's outraged and prejudiced pronouncements about his uncle, even when they are at odds with his own beliefs.

Pardo Bazan sets both novels during a timespan roughly contemporaneous with the period of their writing, as certain details make clear. The narrator of Una cristiana refers several times to the Queen Regent Cristina (Maria Cristina of Austria), as well as the Infantas Isabel and Eulalia (188-89), (4) thus locating the action after the death of King Alfonso XII in November 1885. The presence in Spain of a Franciscan friar, Padre Moreno, also helps establish the novel's timeframe, a point developed later. Raymond Carr has argued that following the First Republic,
      Every tension in Spanish society was refracted through
   the prism of the religious issue. The conservative reaction of
   the 1870s was paralleled by the Catholic revival....
   Catholics imagined that society and religion were alike
   threatened by the advance of a secular army of free-thinkers
   and masons begotten by liberalism. Razon y Fe added Jews
   ... as responsible for the ruin of Spain. (40)

Pardo Bazan plays up two dimensions of these perceived threats to the church in Restoration society in the self-proclaimed free-thinker Salustio and his "Jewish" uncle. Against the conservative political climate, both the narrator and his fellow university student Luis Portal ally themselves with Republican parties. The former favors the more radical politics of Francisco Pi y Margall, "convencido de que en Espana no es licito transigir ni un punto con lo pasado" and that the future lies in "la senda de la transformacion honda y progresiva" (23), while his friend Portal supports the more moderate Emilio Castelar. (5) Since the author maintained a firm friendship with Castelar, whom she admired, the direction the narrative takes should come as no surprise.

In the on-going give-and-take between the two friends, transigir is a leitmotif proffered by Portal as a strategy that the narrator rejects, while he nevertheless acts upon the advice in some situations. Salustio objects to "esa mania de contemporizar con el ayer, con la Espana absoluta y fanatica," denouncing the possibility that "dentro de pocos anos Espana volvera a poblarse de conventos." Speaking ironically, he declares: "Es absurdo tolerar semejante artimana, y hasta protegerla, como nuestro liberalisimo Gobierno hace" (24). And yet in Pardo Bazan's ironic reversal of the two friends' stated ideologies, Salustio not only ends up in a friendly relationship with a Franciscan friar but becomes enamored of a Christian woman, Carmen Aldao, who incarnates the Spain of the past he despises. In a prophetic outburst, Luis proposes that Spain's emergence as a modern nation requires Spaniards to "cruzarnos con otras razas; todos los que nos ilustremos un poco !a casarnos con mujeres extranjeras!..." (26). (6) While his enthusiasm may seem to offer an absurdly hyperbolic path towards modernization, Luis indeed falls for a foreign woman who seems to embody the mujer nueva: Maud (Mo) Baldwin, from a Protestant family living in Madrid. In the face of Salustio's idealistic call for Galician independence and support for an Iberian Federation, both of which Pardo Bazan openly opposed, Portal critiques the current state of Spanish politics at all levels: "[e]l gobierno central," "diputaciones provinciales," "los alcaldes de pueblo ... y los de aldea" (25). Hence it is Luis Portal's views that align more closely with those expressed elsewhere by Pardo Bazan, and that, his theory of marriage aside, envision measured strides towards Spain's future. Thus one of the main thrusts of both novels challenges the prevailing conditions in late nineteenth-century Spain and the country's adherence to obsolete discourses and corrupt cultural practices and institutions.

In both novels Pardo Bazan foregrounds the tension between tradition and modernity in a Spain in which prejudices persist, kept alive in part by a church that portrays Jewish stereotypes in its pageantry, despite the momentum of encroaching rational and positivist discourses. In La mujer espanola she underscores Spain's investment in such cultural constructs by declaring all Spaniards to be inheritors of a shared Jewish past: "el punto en que la tradicion se impone con mayor fuerza al espanol, porque late, digamoslo asi, en el fondo de su sangre semitica, es el de las cuestiones relativas a la mujer" (qtd. in Bauer 299). The key question Roger Barta rhetorically poses of Pardo Bazan's day: "How can Spain find a way to live without hating its Jews and its Moors?" (70), expresses central aspects of her project in these novels. Asserting "the general Spanish distaste for all things Jewish," Lou Charnon-Deutsch quotes Isidro Gonzalez's argument from El retorno de los judios that "when the topic of Jews occupied journalists and politicians at all, it was likely to be a mere pretext to address other national concerns related to political and religious repression, the country's backwardness and intolerance, the system of government, and the freedom of religion" (611). Faced with the prevailing silence, Pardo Bazan manages to integrate both a meditation on Jews in contemporary Spain and a denunciation of aspects of the emerging modern nation into these novels. For most Spaniards the visual presence of Jews in Spain was reduced to a static representation of history in the performance of Christianity's encounter of the good Jew (Christ) with bad Jews during Holy Week. Whereas in Romantic literature, as Jo Labanyi observes, Spanish Jews "are almost always ... cardboard villains" ("Love, Politics" 235), Pardo Bazan here negotiates the more difficult maneuver of avoiding endorsing the very stereotypes she must reproduce in her construction of Jews, Christians, and Arabs. Her treatment of Felipe Unceta's political career in Una cristiana and La prueba confirms Labanyi's asseveration regarding a modern nation: "Politics, like the economy, is ruled by an exchange system-the exchange of favours and money" ("Problematizing" 352). In condemning the trajectory of Felipe's career the author engages less in reinforcing lingering commonplaces about Jews than in a challenge to dominant cultural practices.

In an insightful article, Beth Bauer opines that in La mujer espanola "the writer recognized that the Church was but another male-governed institution used to control women" (304). In these novels, however, Pardo Bazan executes two additional maneuvers: she largely frees Salustio's mother, Benigna Unceta, from the constraints of church control and she makes a Franciscan friar, Padre Moreno, her representative of the church. Although necessarily subject to its mandates, he exercises little of its authority over women. To the contrary, women facilitate his masquerades and, despite his doubts about the purity of Carmen's intentions in marrying Felipe, he does not act to prevent her doing so. Significantly, by having a friar give voice to the church and its sacraments, Pardo Bazan shifts away from traditional representations of priests. The church is here embodied in a recent returnee from North Africa who is marginal to society in various ways and who quite literally travels without the accumulated baggage and social investment of priests who remained in Spain. Bauer specifies that Pardo Bazan took "pains instead to create ... an upright and virile friar very different" from Fermin de Pas in Alas's La regenta and Julian in Los pazos de Ulloa (304), thus heightening the contrast between the feminine cristiana and the masculine friar. In part this viril Christianity accounts for the seductive power Moreno exercises over an impressionable Salustio. According to Maurice Hemingway, Pardo Bazan's affirmation "'Yo soy catolica, de arraigado catolicismo' ... could have been made at any period in her career" ("Religious Content" 369). However, her faith cannot be read as impinging on her freedom to challenge certain church practices or priests. Labanyi detects in an earlier novel, Los pazos de Ulloa, the author's even harsher treatment of Catholicism: "Given her professed Catholicism, Pardo Bazan's depiction of the local priests' blatant involvement in Carlist electoral manipulation ... is a savage indictment" ("Problematizing" 352). In Una cristiana and La prueba she targets not individual priests but outdated institutional beliefs and practices, especially those conveyed through graphic representations and dramatizations.

My argument is that Pardo Bazan, more than idealizing certain characters in these novels, as other critics have shown, dramatizes the excesses and shortcomings of contemporary Spanish society. She undermines the self-projections of all her characters and deflates all pretensions: Carmen lives the consequences of her determination to marry to maintain her social honor; Salustio loses his romantic vision, quijotesque behavior, and firm belief in the dominance of his rational mind; Luis settles for a real woman rather than the regenerative ideal of a new woman; Silvestre Moreno suffers bodily in his obedience to vows that require him to live in a hostile climate; and most starkly Felipe Unceta dies in a ravished body no longer capable of grasping after material and political gain. The political status quo embodied in the Galician cacique, don Vicente Sotopena, disintegrates into partisan squabbling as the powers of his protege Felipe wane and he loses his patron's protection. In contrast, at the end of La prueba the newly employed engineers, Salustio and Luis, remain to figure Spain's future in a more practical, down-to-earth form. Previous studies of the novels have not given sufficient weight to Salustio's manifest lack of interest at the end of La prueba in the widowed, and thus now available, Carmen, who remains in mourning in Galicia. This is not only the prime example of the narrator's inconsistency, reflecting the collapse of dramatic tension following his uncle's death (and Salustio's incipient economic independence, partly due to his share of his uncle's will), but more importantly it demonstrates the novelist's refusal to pair a reactionary woman with a forward-looking young professional. The twinned novels are Salustio's story of youthful errors, emotional excesses, and romantic leanings that the author does not reward. Bauer interprets Salustio's attraction to a conventional Catholic woman, despite his confessed radical Republicanism, as emblematic of the duality Pardo Bazan identifies in Spanish men in her essays on La mujer espanola. Labanyi's keen insight perhaps best articulates Salustio's contradictory infatuation with the model of a woman from Spain's past: "When, from the mid-nineteenth century in Spain, capitalist modernization started to make the self-made man a viable possibility, ... Romantic love would lose its political force, and would degenerate into a form of nostalgia" ("Love, Politics" 234).

In a recent study of the Jew in nineteenth-century Spanish art, Hazel Gold enunciates the problem of Spain's need for "the symbolic articulation of a coherent identity," a process complicated by "the legacy of a plural society composed of three distinct religious castes" (90). In a Spain devoid of Jews, she writes, there was only the "imaginary Jew," the product of "the phantom conceptual existence of a long-vanished Jewry that is sustained solely through public discourse" (90). Julio Caro Baroja maintains that for the general population at the end of the nineteenth century, "el judio iba pasando a ser cada vez mas un personaje legendario y desconocido" (2: 431). Against this backdrop, equating Felipe Unceta with his family's Jewish past becomes a dubious proposition. It is precisely public discourse on which Pardo Bazan draws in her novels not only to imagine Spain's reception of a "Jew" but to exemplify one form of Christian love and self-sacrifice. Francisco Marquez Villanueva addresses the core problem for today's readers of the twinned novels when he acknowledges: "En cualquier otra tierra de cristianos habria sido absurdo llamar judios a quienes habian dejado de serlo varias generaciones atras, pero aqui seguian siendo tales en cuanto miembros de un grupo socialmente descalificado y que, por efecto de lo mismo, continuaba asumiendo una identidad peculiar" (12). Thus a Jew embodied the opposite of everything "la Espana oficial ... habia elegido darse a si misma" (15). Felipe then stands in for the requisite traits that Spain refuses to accept in its self-image and that Pardo Bazan's novels attack as the material reality of a self-made man that is replacing the time-honored stratification of society.

Some critics have been so offended by the author's shorthand usage of hebreo and judio to refer to Felipe Unceta that they have lost sight of the bigger picture, of how the author frames the two novels. It is worth reiterating that in addition to a "Jew," she includes an "Arab," a "Christian woman," and even a Protestant. (7) First of all, Salustio's unreliability as a narrator throughout both novels makes all his judgments about his uncle and aunt suspect, if not patently false. His emotions, both positive and negative, distort his vision, and he has recourse to conventional discourses to articulate his feelings about the circumstances at hand. His consistent pattern of imposing his interpretation of Carmen's state of mind on her may well extend to his uncle, whom we have less opportunity to observe and assess. We have fewer grounds for suspecting the falseness of his portrayal of his mother, Benigna, since his narrative also incorporates her letters and speech patterns. The vehement language she uses tends rather to confirm his pronouncements about her. The scenes in which Salustio reads the silent Carmen bring to mind how Dallas Archer describes his mother and father in Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence: "A deaf-and-dumb asylum in fact!" Nephew and aunt resemble the Archers who "just sat and watched each other, and guessed at what was going on underneath" (qtd. in Haytock 148), with Carmen being less transparent to the narrator than he is to her. (8)

No one seems to have made a case for why the author chooses to construct Felipe Unceta as a Jew and, therefore, necessarily make his sister and nephew Jews as well, aside from its serving as preparation for the plot device of leprosy on which La prueba hinges. In Una cristiana Pardo Bazan carefully crafts the introduction of Felipe's Jewish heritage and Salustio's response to it. She builds a historical frame for the story, as well as establishing the cultural, social, artistic, and folkloric context for reading a "Jew" in contemporary Spain. Most of the novels' language in reference to Jews comes from popular traditions and sayings and belong to the common currency of Spanish culture at the end of the nineteenth century. In general, the author is careful to explain away this use of everyday linguistic and cultural references. She places cultural attitudes and stereotypes in the mouth and mind of Salustio and, to a very different effect, of his mother, and only occasionally of other characters. The novels barely mention Salustio's long-dead father, except when his annoyed uncle opines: "Sales a tu padre; mas desagradecido y descastado no lo hubo" (38); this more immediate dimension of Salustio's heritage receives no further play in either novel. It is Salustio's maternal grandmother, from Marin in Galicia, who transmits the family's Jewish ancestry, with its origins in the Portuguese Jewish Cardoso Pereira family, and who bears its secret: "eran judios los progenitores de mi abuelita materna" (29). Pardo Bazan is drawing an interesting distinction here between the history of Jews in the two countries, validated historically by the survival of Jewish families in Portugal following their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Caro Baroja records the persistence of Jewish communities in neighboring Portugal in the nineteenth century: "a traves de una epoca tan agitada como lo fue el siglo XIX portugues se conservaron de modo que no tiene paralelo en Espana nucleos de sociedades cripto-judias." He specifically notes documentation of "la existencia de restos de antiguos nucleos israelitas en los alrededores de Braganca y en toda la comarca de Tras-os-Montes" (3: 225), thus granting a degree of historical verisimilitude to the genealogy Pardo Bazan invents.

His mother's violent slap and verbal abuse in answer to his innocent question, "Mama ?es cierto que somos de casta de judios tu y yo?," teaches the child Salustio that in his culture being of Jewish heritage "era mancha" (29). This learned response to a cultural discourse is reinforced when later Salustio suffers teasing at the Instituto de Pontevedra for his connection with "estos Cardosos de Marin" (28). These formative experiences underlie his claims as a university student to separate religion from cultural prejudice, insisting that as a rational man he has always been a disbeliever ("naci racionalista" 29) and thus, being immune to Catholic dogma and tradition, does not harbor Catholicism's anti-Semitism. Pardo Bazan enhances the supposed dominance of reason over emotion and tradition by making both Salustio and Luis students in the Escuela de Caminos. In them she figures Spain's future through the practical application of science, as Galdos did with Pepe Rey in Dona Perfecta, and dramatizes reason's conflict with the weight of long-standing cultural practices and discourses.

In preparation for the ending of La prueba, Salustio reports in Una cristiana learning of a documented Cardoso ancestor from Marin who was "leproso y gafo" (30). The rational Salustio frames the family mancha within "un criterio sensato," recognizing the absurdity of the anti-Semitism in common circulation in Spain:
      Me parecia ridiculo atribuir importancia a lo que en nuestro
   estado actual carece de ella. Ante la filosofia historica, los
   judios son un pueblo de noble origen, que nos ha dado 'la concepcion
   religiosa': concepcion a la cual ... atribuia yo gran
   importancia.... Teniendo en cuenta otro dato, el de la opinion
   social, tampoco era licito ya despreciar a los hebreos. (31)

Against all the evidence in the novels, Pardo Bazan here makes Salustio voice the fact that "la opinion social" rejects Spain's anti-Semitism; his own family and later malicious Galician journalists contest this forward-looking datum. She has the narrator contend that international culture has changed so that being Jewish and rich is valued outside Spain, a situation with which wealthy Spaniards happily collude: "los ricos capitalistas judios se enlazan hoy con lo mas linajudo de la aristocracia francesa, y dan lucidas fiestas y convites, a que concurre la espanola" (31). Presumably Pardo Bazan is thinking of families like the Rothschilds, although in Spain taunts of Jewish ancestry not uncommonly faced Spaniards active in the public arena. Felipe Unceta's political instincts and economic acumen in rising to provincial governor with little to recommend him but connections and favors, echo characters from Galdos's novels: Melchor Relimpio in La desheredada, and Juan Pablo Rubin, also identified as Jewish, in Fortunata y Jacinta. Labeling political and social notables as "Jews" was not at all infrequent throughout the nineteenth century in Spain, encompassing public figures such as Mendizabal and even Castelar. (9) According to Roberto Lopez-Vela, the reactionary press routinely equated "judio y liberal" in a common accusation of seeking "la destruccion del orden y la ruina de Espana" (97). Pardo Bazan may present Felipe Unceta in largely negative terms, but he represents the conservative status quo rather than a liberal agenda. Her novels locate Spain's decay in its current political and social culture. Contradictorily, the textual evidence embraces the anti-Semitism of some characters and practices, against which Salustio struggles, while the referenced "opinion social" does not.

Against the self-assurance that his are purely reasoned, modern reactions to ethnicity, Salustio also invokes instinct in a debate with himself, in perhaps the most troubling passage Pardo Bazan penned in these two novels. It is worth quoting in full:
      yo me repetia a mi mismo que no hay razon alguna para
   que el descender de judios repugne tanto, a no ser la sinrazon
   de una antipatia instintiva, hija de preocupaciones hereditarias.
   No cabia duda: la sangre de cristiano viejo que giraba
   por mis venas era la que se estremecia de horror al tener que
   mezclarse con gotas de sangre israelita. Extrana cosa, pensaba
   yo, que lo mas intimo de nuestro ser resista a la voluntad
   y a los dictados del entendimiento, y que exista en nosotros,
   a despecho de nosotros, un fondo autonomo, instintivo,
   donde reina la tradicion y triunfa el pasado. (31-32)

The radical, free-thinking Republican who eschews compromise with the status quo or a return to institutions of the past cannot always dominate his instinctive response, a reality that makes both Spain's present and future hostage to tradition and the past. However, in Salustio "cristiana vieja" blood dominates Jewish blood, while the opposite holds true for Felipe Unceta, infusing Benigna's hereditary thesis with an arbitrariness that makes her diatribes derive from a personal vendetta and not heredity. The conclusion Salustio presents as self-evident is suspect since his formative experiences and the interiorization of his mother's desire for vengeance and recompense trump reason and positivism: "la cara de deicida del hermano de mi madre fue lo que me infundio desde la ninez aquella repulsion airada, fria, invencible ... : repulsion que no pudieron desarraigar ni mis ideas racionalistas, ni mi positivismo cientifico, ni la proteccion y amparo que debi a tan aborrecido ser" (32, emphasis in the original). It is these attitudes and graphic representations absorbed in childhood as well as the prevailing cultural discourses that reason cannot defeat. Here Pardo Bazan damns her country to a continuation of ingrained beliefs, attitudes, and practices.10 While ironically the youthful romantic, quijotesque engineer Salustio cannot break free from his past, in the one optimistic note in the novels at the close of La prueba Luis Portal enacts the possibility of change with his impending marriage. (Of course, at publication such a marriage might have seemed a form of comic relief, more ridiculous than promising.)

Bauer has acknowledged that "the most disturbing aspect" of the two novels is their "apparent anti-Semitism" (296). She also rightfully recognizes that in other writings "Pardo Bazan at times expressed the enlightened view that anti-Semitic feeling was inappropriate in modern times" (304), much as Salustio does in these novels. Nevertheless, Bauer contends that Salustio's remark about Christian blood shuddering in horror at being mixed with Jewish blood "stands unchallenged throughout the novel and is in fact reinforced by his repeated references to his uncle's cara de deicida and ojos impios ..." (305, emphasis in the original). Lamentably, this is not outrageous language for the era. Lopez-Vela confirms that even for liberal historiographers in the last decades of the century, "era evidente que los judios habian sido el pueblo deicida" (96). Brian Dendle has closely analyzed the mention of Jews and Jewishness in the two novels and denounced their "marked anti-Semite prejudice" (21). He states most forcefully the thesis that Salustio gives voice to his author's own anti-Semitism, an anti-Semitism that this article calls into question.11 In contrast to Dendle, Hemingway defends Pardo Bazan's agreement with Salustio's proclamation that such an attitude is indefensible in a rational person, citing an 1891 article by the author (Emilia Pardo Bazan 177 n.10). Bauer proposes that in the two novels under study the Jew fulfills two essential functions in serving as scapegoat both for the modern woman and for any deviation from "institutional religion." As she argues, the novels' "anti-Semitic stereotypes create a subterfuge that deflects censure away from the image of the modern woman and onto a traditional scapegoat figure" (297). She similarly proposes that Pardo Bazan "shifts potential conflict with institutional religion onto a classic scapegoat, the Jew" (304). Thus she views Pardo Bazan as appropriating the stereotype's specifically negative cultural responses in order to detract attention from the space she opens up to probe other issues, figured in a Christian woman and a Franciscan friar. Six years later in Memorias de un solteron, Pardo Bazan has her male narrator clearly articulate the cultural construction of "la mujer general": "la mujer segun la han hecho nuestras costumbres y nuestras leyes" (260, emphasis in the original), much as Portal does in these novels. The author's "conflict with institutional religion" is muted, conveyed through an implicit condemnation of its public performances and graphic images. She does not directly represent the church except through a single friar far from his convent and a juvenile, but at times unexpectedly prescient, novice priest.

Pardo Bazan presents Salustio's perception of Jewishness as a cultural construct from his initial declaration that "desde el primer golpe de vista, mi tio ofrecia patentes los rasgos de la raza hebraica" (32). This graphic image relies on Spanish society's common cultural perceptions. The way Salustio sees and thinks reflects representations of Jewish males-with the exception of Christ-in Spanish popular culture, principally the figures in paintings and tableaux or those paraded by Galician churches in Holy Week processions: "otro tipo semitico, el de los judios carnales, que en pinturas y esculturas de escenas de la Pasion corresponde o [sic] los escribas, fariseos y doctores de la ley" (32). Salustio would have grown up with such figures, taking for granted the association of Jews with a set of facial features and patterns of behavior. The absence of female Jews makes it difficult for him, or anyone else, to read his mother similarly as a "Jew." His recourse to high art in his affirmation that he has seen similar faces in "algunos cuadros de Museo," especially those of Rubens, must date from his two years at the university in Madrid (32). Of course, what the narrator offers here is his own reading of Rubens's art: "aquellos judiazos fuertes, sanguineos, de corva nariz, de labios glotones y sensuales, de mirada suspicaz y dura, de perfil de ave de rapina" (32). Such passages are nevertheless problematic: is Salustio imposing the dominant cultural discourse in his reading of Rubens's paintings or is he copying the art world's discourse? He also draws attention to one of the enduring ironies of the artistic representation of Jews: Jesus Christ never shares the physical characteristics used to depict other Jews. In sum, Pardo Bazan is at least in part taking on Spanish cultural commonplaces and a longstanding tradition of artistic representation, at the same time that she attempts to depict the fraught psychology between a dependent, fatherless nephew and his prosperous uncle.

Salustio is nevertheless aware of how art captures and transmits negative character traits and shapes viewers' interpretations: "se dedican los pintores a juntar en media docena de fisonomias la expresion de la codicia, la avaricia, la gula, la crueldad, la hipocresia y el egoismo, y asi han conseguido hacer tan repugnante el tipo judaico" (32-33). Pardo Bazan lets the more commonsensical Luis Portal explain the dynamic between tradition and progress; the former prevails in Spain: "La tradicion ... es mas fuerte que la cultura y que el progreso" (33). While Salustio condemns Felipe's avariciousness, which is occasionally tempered by acts of generosity, he defines him as an "avariento frustrado" constrained by the society in which he lives:
      la sagacidad y los apetitos de bienestar y goce que ha
   desarrollado la sociedad moderna contrarrestaban su inclinacion,
   porque actualmente el avaro a la antigua se pondria
   en ridiculo; no podria alternar. Pero bajo el hombre de nuestra
   epoca, que sabe adquirir para gozar, yo veia al hebreo de
   la Edad Media.... (48)

The author plays a double game here, linking material culture to pleasure and social mobility and simultaneously miring Salustio in his inability to separate his image of his uncle from pure stereotype, static across the centuries, even when Felipe Unceta behaves as a man of his day. As a successful politician, businessman, and man of the world, Felipe breaks out of the habit of avarice, belying his static formulation as a "Jew," as he accedes to the demands of modern social intercourse that require a public display of financial status.

Pardo Bazan delays introducing the forceful opinions of Salustio's mother until after she has established the son's more nuanced contextualization of Felipe. Benigna, of course, belongs in equal degree to the "mala casta" against which she rants. Salustio points to her personification of the same "Jewish" traits she criticizes in Felipe: "Con tanto renegar de la estirpe de los Cardosos, mi madre tenia mucho de la adquisividad, la economia sordida y el genio mercantil que caracterizan a la raza hebrea" (56). This can be read as the son's mimicry of his mother's prejudices and another example of the author's anti-Semitism, or it can be seen as his ironic deconstruction of a stereotype. Salustio turns the ethnic cliches on their head in asserting that her avariciousness equates to practical domestic economy, allowing her to live and help support her son's education on a limited income. Furthermore, despite wearing "el habito del Carmen" (56) to save money on clothes, Benigna only perfunctorily practices her religion. If one reads Salustio's invocation of heredity literally, it offers one of the baldest statements of hereditary transmission that Pardo Bazan makes in either novel: "Sin duda por transmision hereditaria de la rama israelita, la concepcion religiosa mas arraigada en mi madre era la de un Dios airado, rencoroso e implacable: el Dios biblico" (57). However, the reference to heredity may again function ironically to undermine the possibility of transmitting a concept of God across generations against the grain of Christianity. At the very least, it signals the failure of Christian charity to temper a lust for vengeance. There is comic potential in a women dressed in an "habito del Carmen" calling for divine damnation for her brother.

The main stumbling blocks to reading the two novels today are the invocation of hereditary transmission and the recourse to the Biblical link between Jews and leprosy. This link, first introduced in Una cristiana by a ridiculed "erudito en menudencias estramboticas" as historical fact about one of Salustio's ancestors tortured by the Inquisition (30), draws together the twonovel saga. When the Pontevedra press denounces Felipe Unceta as a Jew who, in a reiteration of the avarice motif, "se dedicaba a chupar la sangre de la provincia" (La prueba 142), it sets the stage for the public revelation of Felipe's illness. The references by Salustio to Felipe as "el hebreo" center on two events; the first cluster commences at this point. The second cluster of epithets follows Salustio's confirmation that the illness is indeed leprosy (La prueba 151, 173). In both cases, the use of these epithets reflects the heightened emotional climate in Galicia and the cultural baggage that propels and accompanies it. Everyone except Benigna refers to the skin disease as erysipelas; she employs the popular name for leprosy, "el mal de San Lazaro" (La prueba 145), that associates the disease with Christianity, in a common but apocryphal reference to the New Testament Lazarus. At this point Salustio's concern lies with Carmen and whether she recognizes the hereditary nature and contagiousness of leprosy: "?No iba ella tambien a ser leproso?" (La prueba 153, emphasis in the original). One can treat Salustio's adoption of his mother's dictum that leprosy is the disease of "la raza de Israel" (La prueba 170) as Pardo Bazan's understanding of the bible or as the ignorance of a "mujer del pueblo" (Bauer 297). In the latter case, in his choice of epithets Salustio continues to echo what he reads and hears around him in Galicia, recreating the discourses that his uncle's fall from power puts into circulation.

When her brother develops leprosy, Benigna asserts that "Felipe es el vivo retrato de la abuela... y la abuela murio lazarada tambien" (La prueba 146); she takes his disease as a sign of God's punishment of her brother. Claiming to know about lepers in Galicia, in Marin and La Toja, she opines that the disease "es una mancha muy grande para la familia y una verguenza horrorosa" (La prueba 147). However, the young Galician doctor in Madrid, Sauco, who keeps the diagnosis of "leprosy" to himself, reassures Salustio: "tu no tienes nada que temer. Si acaso, tus hijos; esta enfermedad casi siempre salta una generacion. A veces tambien se extinquen [sic], a fuerza de tiempo y de cruzamientos de sangre" (La prueba 169). This affirmation seems to eliminate Salustio a priori. However, if Felipe Unceta Cardoso's mother "murio lazarada," the disease did not skip a generation. In general, these details about transmission serve to free readers from anxiety about the dangers the disease poses, as does the doctor's additional caveat about social class: "No son frecuentes, sin embargo, en la esfera social de tu tio los casos de lepra" (169). Much as he does when he sees the Franciscan friar, the ingenuous Salustio interjects: "Pero yo crei que no habia en el mundo semejante enfermedad" (169). Again, his remark may anticipate the responses of readers not up-to-date on current national and international events.

I want to approach the deus ex machina of leprosy in these novels from a different angle and ask: Why leprosy? Rod Edmond pithily states the case that across the centuries leprosy "has had extraordinary potential for becoming more than itself" (1). In the nineteenth century a connection reemerges between leprosy and Europe, in particular Spain. With the isolation of the leprosy bacillus in 1874 infection slowly begins to supplant the theory of its hereditary transmission (Edmond 19). According to Edmond, reports on the prevalence of leprosy in Spain were a cause for concern and led to international repercussions "when a case brought from Spain ended fatally in a Paris hospital and led to the French government taking quarantine measures against Spanish vessels" (685). The word lepra appeared in the media in a variety of contexts: as a medical condition (a skin disease for which cures are advertised in the press), as a metaphor for unpleasant or repugnant situations, and to refer to cases of a specific disfiguring disease and its treatments. By the end of 1890 Madrid doctors are experimenting with the Koch bacillus on patients, including some diagnosed with leprosy (El Imparcial 16 Dec. 1890: 2 and 31 Dec. 1890: 1). A recent article in the Social History of Medicine reveals that "the leprosy problem" worsened in Spain during the last decades of the nineteenth century, while Europe suffered "a leprosy pandemic" that "manifested itself virulently in various Spanish regions" (BernabeuMestre and Ballester-Artigues 409). At the time medical science and public health officials considered leprosy to be contagious (411), as characters in La prueba fear. The metaphorical power of the disease became "a central ideological instrument and would help to establish the characteristics and nature of the stigma which accompanied the disease's social image" (414).

Pardo Bazan builds on the metaphor of bodily disease as moral degeneration to justify Felipe's illness and Carmen's redemptive role. Leprosy speaks more clearly to Felipe's character than anything his nephew reports: "the physical deformity caused by leprosy came to symbolize moral defects and the consequences entailed by the lack of respect for the prevailing social values" (414). Her novels invoke not only this moral dimension of the disease but the recommended attitude of "Christian resignation" as the way "to live with the disease" (416). The media propagated these views and consequently "helped to shape an image of leprosy that was redolent with moral, religious, and political judgements" (420), all of which facets Pardo Bazan puts into play, both capitalizing on and contesting them. There is also an economic factor at play here integrating Jews, leprosy and the market economy: "Tensions provoked by the establishment of a monetary economy were finding expression in anti-Semitic hatred.... The role of the lepers in this is more obscure, but there were large revenues to be derived from the administration of the many leper asylums" (Edmond 1).

As far as I can determine, no one has yet examined closely where Pardo Bazan's linkage of Spain and leprosy originates; that is, how widespread the association was in her day, especially among the urban reading public. The word lepra circulated freely in the press as a metaphor for Spain's social ills. (12) A survey of El Imparcial reveals not only stories about the spread of the disease and the success of new treatments but the figural usage of leprosy as "una lepra moral," often cast in a hyperbolic style. (13) Although some examples seem frivolous, others, such as the critique of skepticism, "el triste y funesto escepticismo," that "se extiende como lepra moral por nuestro pueblo," reproduce the fear of a spreading disease that threatens the whole country (11 Oct. 1899: 1). In his review of Una cristiana and La prueba Alas evokes the degeneration of moral leprosy into Felipe's bodily leprosy, commenting that "las lacerias de la conciencia tomaron carne y se pudrieron y fueron lepra al natural" (20 Sept. 1890: 3).

In these two novels leprosy in the "Jew" figures the accumulation of immoral practices and rampant political corruption in contemporary society. Felipe incarnates the taints of contamination from his native Galician environment and his own selfish behavior; both carry greater interpretive weight than the explanation of hereditary traits. In fact, Pardo Bazan gives little history of the Cardoso family. Felipe is the product of his own behavior: marrying for potential (and expected) political and economic benefits, supporting a corrupt cacique for personal power and influence, patronizing various mistresses, albeit on the cheap, and inducting his nephew into the practice of acquiring a mistress. Nothing out of the ordinary for a politically ambitious middle-class man of the era. If leprosy serves to mark Felipe as a particularly unpleasant-from Salustio's viewpoint-and egregious exemplar of the present-day Spanish male whose goal is personal, especially economic, profit at the expense of others, then it conveys a diagnosis of societal ills. Thus he lives out the consequences of his promiscuous actions as much, or more, than his ancestry. Against the romanticizing, idealistic narrative spun by his nephew, Felipe stands out as a model of modern degradation that contaminates what it touches, with the exception of the embodiment of purity, Carmen. It says something about the mentality of the time in which Pardo Bazan writes that a historically marginal individual could convincingly figure for her readers the personal political gain, economic machinations, and sexual commerce she censures. (14) Or perhaps only such a man could bear the burden of her attack on societal ills.

Pardo Bazan employs similar techniques, to different ends, in introducing her two exemplars of a potentially multicultural Spain, Felipe Unceta and Silvestre Moreno, in Una cristiana. Just as Felipe is the only "Jew" depicted as such in the two novels and Carmen the only cristiana, in the Franciscan Silvestre Moreno Salustio encounters his first friar "en carne y hueso" (62) and the novels' only "Arab." The presence of a friar in Spain constitutes another dimension of Pardo Bazan's critique of Spain: the expulsion of religious orders. As Kirsty Hooper observes, "the paradoxical figure of the Moorish priest" also allows Pardo Bazan "a means of entry into the debates arising from the tension between Spain's culturally and racially hybrid past and increasingly ethnocentric present" (174). The reasons for Salustio's unfamiliarity with friars are historical and the author's explanation hints at a more generalized lack of contact in Spain with members of religious orders beyond their graphic representations in museums and churches: "pense que no existian ustedes. Una tonteria, porque se muy bien que en Espana se estan repoblando los conventos de varias Ordenes; pero francamente, me figuraba yo que los frailes solo se encontraban en los cuadros, en los retablos de las iglesias, y asi ..." (67). (15) Adrian Shubert accounts for the geographical vicissitudes of a Franciscan like Moreno. After the Concordat of 1851 "a limited number of male orders" remained in Spain until the "revolutionary interlude of 1868 to 1874" when the "government suppressed religious communities [and] prohibited the orders from owning property" (148). Shubert notes that "in 1867 there were only 1,500 monks in the country," adding that the "real revival of the orders took place under the Restoration" (149-50).

Salustio's iconographic repertoire allows him to recognize the friar as a Franciscan. His mental construct of a friar derives from paintings by Zurbaran and other artists whose works the Museum and the Academy display and from theatrical performances, all presumably in Madrid. Thus his idea of a Franciscan, even more than his idea of a Jew, builds on visual representations. As in the case of his uncle, instinct plays a key role in his reaction to the friar-against the rule of reason-despite the many and varied cultural images available to him: "Me atraia aquel hombre sin motivo ninguno" (62). In these novels Pardo Bazan's emphasis lies on an individual's response in constant tension with cultural discourses. It becomes increasingly clear that what appeals to him is that Moreno "efectivamente resultaba buen mozo" (98) whose demeanor and actions contest the stereotype of the friar. Nevertheless, Salustio remains undecided on first meeting him: "o es un santo o es un hipocrita" (81). Fascinated by the novelty of a friar and jealous of his intimacy with Carmen's family, Salustio fantasizes that the Franciscan offers material for "el gran sainete dramatico" (74), again letting imagination subjugate reason. The student resents his outsider status, while the religious occupies a place of privilege and may hold the key to the mystery of Carmen's betrothal: "Aqui el conflicto, si existe, lo conoce el Padre Moreno" (74). This integrates Moreno into the novel's somewhat weak dramatic tension.

Salustio's first impression of the discalced Franciscan friar is, like his visual image of a Jew, grounded in high art and, in this case, in the theater as well. He has seen Rafael Calvo in the Duke of Rivas's drama in the role of Don Alvaro who disguises himself as the Franciscan friar Padre Rafael in the monastery of Los Angeles. The drama prepares the way for a Franciscan who has in the past masqueraded both as a Moor and as a bourgeois Spanish gentleman. Two vectors of cultural production intersect in the graphic representations of friars to which Salustio has access: satire in the popular cromos of the caricaturist Francisco Ortego and the exaggeration of their visionary state in novels and poetry (62). Both models constitute negative stereotypes and neither applies to Moreno. (16) It is therefore somewhat surprising that when Salustio focuses on the discalced friar's bare feet and sandals he visually associates them with sculptures of San Antonio de Padua, not an expected cultural referent for a university student. Such familiarity with religious statues accords better with the author than the narrator but nevertheless probably resonated easily with many readers. The novel attributes to Salustio a greater knowledge and consciousness of religious art than one would expect in his twenty-two years of infrequent attendance at mass, outside the daily mass of his school days. In sum, the "Jew" Felipe and the "Arab" friar Moreno are both incarnations of multiple layers of cultural references embracing both high art and popular culture seen through the lens of Salustio's Galician upbringing and time in Madrid. In this way, he can give voice to a wide range of commonly held assumptions and cite a broad variety of graphic images. Whereas his uncle is inevitably "el antipatico de mi tio" (74), the novelty of the outgoing, sensible friar makes him sympathetic and irresistible to Salustio, in a fashion somewhat similar to his fixation on the Christian woman Carmen.

Moreno identifies with Africa, where he has lived, and its climate, proclaiming: "soy medio moro" (69). His alienation from contemporary Spain, just emerging from its Republican phase, leads him to repeat the remarkable disclaimer: "que el se habia encontrado siempre mejor en Marruecos que en Espana; mejor entre moros que entre cristianos 'de estos de por aca'" (94). His Arab features, "tez tostada y cetrina" (68) and dark black eyes, make possible his enactment of a Moor. (17) He goes so far as to declare "Moro, ya lo fui," before clarifying that he only assimilates culturally, not religiously, in the sense of "hijo del Africa; mauritano" (95). In fact, it seems principally a matter of environmental identification, as well as admiration for an adoring populace at a time when Spain is hostile to religious orders.

The most telling feature of Moreno's story is its theatricality and the shifting forms of self-presentation that mark his Franciscan habit as his "natural" dress, although as Salustio attests it is anything but "natural" in Republican and now Restoration Spain. In Tangier when "la Republica traia revuelta a toda Espana," Moreno found himself ordered back to Spain, a journey requiring a disguise: "Y el caso es que no se podia venir con el habito" (95). In contrast with her presentation of Felipe Unceta, Pardo Bazan highlights Padre Moreno's ethnic cross-dressing as well as his cross-class interactions with ladies of the upper-middle and upper class who serve as his patrons. Felipe is a Christian whom his sister, and to a lesser degree his nephew, insist on perceiving as a Jew, in Salustio's case primarily because of the way he interprets his uncle's attitudes, actions, and even habits. Moreno is a Christian who has successfully slipped in and out of mutable self-representations, passing himself off both as a Moor and as a Spanish gentleman. With a beard and no tonsure-in Spain a gentleman requires a beard while "una de las cosas en que mas se conoce al eclesiastico vestido de seglar es en la rasuracion" (96)-he assumes the disguise of a gentleman. The performance requires the expertise of ladies from the British Consulate, the Spanish Consulate being in hostile Republican hands, involving as it does the detailed construction of middleclass masculinity: silk socks, initialed handkerchiefs, cuff links, and gloves. This exercise proves not that clothes make the man, but that dress need not affect belief or behavior, in contrast to the emphasis on presentation and material identity in modern Spain. The other character who wears a habit in the novels, Benigna Unceta, conveys the contrary message, since her habit is itself a form of disguise obscuring her violent emotions.

While the novel imposes the epithet "Jew" on Felipe and attempts to circumscribe him within this single identity, the Franciscan Moreno embraces his alternate identity by linking himself to the Moors, Spain's Oriental other. Felipe's physical appearance, if read culturally and historically, overrides his Christianity, but Moreno's Christianity, whatever his guise, never comes into question. His preference for the climate of North Africa over the damp, chilly convent in Santiago de Compostela is understandable, but he also rejects aspects of Spanish society and culture. (18) His Moorishness is an artifice; once safely back in Spain the gentleman Moreno opts to masquerade for a group of fellow Spaniards as the Moor Ben-Jusuf. He plays the role seriously for his audience of professional men, including a priest, to underscore the absence of freedom of religious expression, ironically under the Republic's new law of religious freedom. He even cites cases of friars in Spain being beheaded, while describing them as "gente inofensiva dedicada a rezar y hacer penitencia ..." (100). On a personal level, disguise is a matter of facial hair, clothing, and self-identification. Moreno is a Moor because he says he is and he knows some Arabic, and he is a Spanish gentleman because he dresses and speaks like one. He became a Moorish Franciscan when it was no longer possible to be a Spanish Franciscan, a situation reversed with the Restoration. The Orient thus becomes a counterpoint to Spain, a vehicle for exposing the errors of Spain's ways. As Hooper contends, Moreno's encounter with Spaniards in Granada allows "both author and character to expose the hypocrisy of the liberal bourgeoisie" (178). Pardo Bazan's point is that as Spain is a foreign land to the long-exiled Moors, Republican Spain is alien to the exiled friar. Both prefer North Africa to current Spanish liberalism: "No soy sino un pobre fraile franciscano, que gracias a la libertad reinante ha tenido que disfrazarse de moro para venir a su pais natal" (101). This is dramatic stuff but disingenuous, because the requisite makeover returns him to an alternate version of what he already is, a Spaniard.

Hooper's contention about Moreno applies to Felipe as well: "Through the interaction between Salustio and Moreno, as well as through Moreno's own account of his activities in Morocco, Pardo Bazan invites her readers to examine their own assumptions about cultural constructions of racial difference" (175). It is curious that in La prueba both the "Arab" and the "Jew" are immobilized in putrefying bodies explicitly linked, respectively, to environment and heredity, while both were initially marked by excess mobility and free circulation. The Christian Arab priest recovers after expiation through intense agony from the bodily corruption brought on by his confinement in a monastery in rainy Santiago, whereas the bodily decomposition of the Christian "Jew" ends in death. Despite his proclaimed love for his Christian aunt, Salustio alternates his attention between the two men, more interested in the personal history of each than in ministering to either. Carmen comes to stand in for the attraction, negative or positive, each man exerts on the somewhat naive and inexperienced Salustio in an example of what Rene Girard termed mimetic desire. Carmen is the "object" that draws her nephew to the "models" or "mediators" with rival claims on her that thwart his conquest and mask his true emotions of envy and jealousy (12-18).

In terms of the cultural construction of women in the novel Padre Moreno adds a significant dimension as well. The Spaniards he meets in Granada listen raptly to his descriptions of Moorish harems and their women, as Salustio does to the rehearsal of the tale. The stereotypes Moreno reproduces are familiar. His supposedly first-person account reproduces the commonplaces about Moorish wives and harem life, an exercise that should help readers-if not Salustio-recognize the similarly cliched vision of Spanish women at work in Salustio's reading of Carmen. Throughout the two novels Salustio, the man of reason, maintains that Carmen embodies the Christian woman and hence the ideal wife. In his initial conversation with the friar, Salustio projects onto his future aunt the stereotype of "la mujer cristiana" before he even sees her. However, when he first proposes this formulation to Padre Moreno, the latter merely replies that "su futura tia es en efecto una cristiana" (71). Salustio reworks this assertion in a letter to Portal, proclaiming what he wants to believe: "Me dijo [Moreno] que era [Carmen] el modelo de la mujer cristiana" (80). By misunderstanding or exaggerating Moreno's description of Carmen, Salustio is ready to proclaim her, sight unseen, an ideal woman and to cite-inaccurately--Moreno as his source.

Only at the end of La prueba does the suggestion come that Carmen may indeed have at times felt toward Salustio as he consistently imagines she does, something first-person narration cannot communicate. The brief scene in Chapter 19 calls into question the unreliability that previously dominates the two narratives when at last Carmen declares to her nephew the extent of her love for her husband: "Mas que he querido a nadie en este mundo" (La prueba 188). In fact, earlier in the novel Carmen calls her nephew's bluff: "Tu te has figurado que yo no quiero a mi marido, y hasta que siento por el ... asi ... una especie ... de repugnancia" (La prueba 111). In retracting her previous denial of repugnancia, at the end of La prueba she gives some credence to Salustio's suspicions that hers is, to say the least, a loveless marriage when she acknowledges: "es indudable que yo hubiese preferido ... tal vez ... no casarme ... o ... en fin ..." (191). Carmen's confession in La prueba mirrors her previous confession in Una cristiana to Padre Moreno, which her nephew-to-be overhears, and it prepares the change in attitude towards her that Salustio expresses to Luis Portal in Aranjuez in the novel's epilogue. However, the reversal in Salustio's feelings for Carmen begins earlier in La prueba at the exact moment when, back in Madrid, he realizes she has accepted her husband's Jewish heritage:

Lo cierto es que su transformacion la sentaba muy bien: era otra mujer, y mujer capaz de inspirar otra clase de amor; mujer apetecible. Y, sin embargo, yo, que habia ardido por la triste y desmejorada criatura, hoy me reconocia dueno de mis sentidos: con la idea de la enfermedad, no creia que pudiese mi imaginacion inflamarse nunca. (La prueba 171)

Now a more apetecible woman of the world who knows carnal love and human suffering, Carmen sheds her mystery and mystique. When she confirms that Felipe also loves her, Salustio feels a piercing sensation similar to when "un desengano me hiere o siento profundamente mortificado mi amor propio" (18788). He has invested his self-worth in the adoration of his aunt, who remains an icon now perceived by him as "la santa mujer" (190) with "la expresion angelical" of Murillo's painting of Santa Isabel (203).

Under the duress of Salustio's insistent questioning and the strain of her husband's illness Carmen's two-part confession merely casts into further doubt the narrator's ongoing projections of her voice and sentiments and hence his unreliability. Her words remain insufficient to counter the accumulative weight of his opinions across the span of the two narratives. The central function of her confession is to confirm her unattainability and reinforce the impetus to deprive his uncle of her love. In inheriting the discarded Belen from his uncle, Salustio sets a troubling precedent, even a parody, for his desire to marry Carmen. With his uncle dying, the threat he posed to Salustio's self-esteem no longer exists and his envy dissipates. Carmen loses the charm she held for him and returns to being the unexceptional woman he first perceived on his arrival at her father's house. Through Carmen's seeming confirmation of Salustio's intuition of her most private thoughts, Pardo Bazan introduces the possibility of some degree of narrative reliability at the end of La prueba that parallels the course of Felipe's illness. This short-lived reversal in narrative strategy from unreliable to reliable narration does not, however, validate the emotions Salustio has imagined Carmen conveying silently to him since he met her or his exalted characterization of her and the love for him he projects onto her. Rather it momentarily gives insight into Carmen at the turning point in her life.

By the time Felipe dies, Salustio has lost his passionate fantasy about his aunt, so that once she is free, the attraction he felt has already greatly diminished. The idealization of Carmen as the desirable but off-limits "mujer cristiana" collapses, much as Luis's idealization of Mo as "la mujer moderna" evaporates. (19) But whereas Luis settles for reality and marriage as La prueba ends, Salustio confesses to his friend: "Ignoro lo que siento ... Necesito analizar mi espiritu" (La prueba 204). This doubt negates his earlier and characteristically romantic outburst to Padre Moreno: "Si muere su marido, me casare con ella; entretanto, sere su hermano" (La prueba 161). Carmen's state of mourning perhaps makes it difficult to introduce a future relationship between an aunt in Pontevedra and a nephew in Aranjuez. Indeed, once Salustio works off his sexual energy with Belen, he never expresses the same intensity of interest in Carmen as before. (20) If his mother's resentment of her brother's economic advantages and his own envy of Felipe are the catalysts of his enchantment by Carmen, then with Felipe dead triangular desire ceases to exist, eliminating his need to wrest her away from either his uncle or Padre Moreno.


It is possible to read Una cristiana in particular as affirming that the three embodiments of cultural stereotypes-Christian, Jew, and Arab-are just that: stereotypes that raise issues about contemporary Spanish culture. There is no true Christian woman, no Jew, no Arab in these novels. Pardo Bazan has collapsed Spain's heritage of cultural diversity into a monocultural Spain exhibiting a range of variations on Christianity. This is perhaps the most questionable maneuver the novels carry out from a twenty-first century standpoint. Even the novels' dominant voice, the student narrator, does not necessarily offer the promise of a new future, although his companion Luis Portal at times makes a better case for the direction a modern Spain should take. Certainly Luis's pending marriage to the English Protestant Mo at the end of La prueba opens new possibilities for cultural diversity, although it is worth remembering that the restorer of the Bourbon monarchy, Alfonso XII, was educated in England. (21) These are not the only aspects of Spanish culture to which Pardo Bazan draws attention and on which she proffers penetrating if indirect observations which lend themselves to contradictory readings, mediated as they are through an overwhelmingly unreliable narrator. The failure to identify the narrator's degree of reliability, especially as regards his uncle and his aunt, has given rise to mistaken readings that cannot grasp the implied author's voice underneath that of Salustio. As in other novels, such as Insolacion, Pardo Bazan makes space for readers to exercise whatever level of narrative acuity they bring to their reading of her fiction. If readers need the story of a model Christian woman, they can ignore the limitations of a first-person narrator and place Carmen in that role; if they seek a bolder or more critical commentary on Spain, they can take Portal's words seriously and envision the effect of two young Republican engineers on the country's future. If they enjoy the tensions of conflicting sentiments, reason, and expiation, they can follow the twists and turns of Salustio's mind as he narrates. Bauer's notation of the "oscillations and ambiguities" that mark the two novels is especially helpful here (306).

Salustio's infatuation with a mildly attractive, conservatively religious, conventional woman communicates the power of ingrained images, static beliefs, and cliched thinking on the imagination. Despite his philosophy, his education, and his indifference to religious practice, he is drawn to the idealization of female abnegation and self-sacrifice, something he certainly has not learned from his mother. In these novels Pardo Bazan dramatizes the difficulty of weaning Spanish males from this ideal of womanhood propagated by the church. By making a Franciscan friar the intercessor between the church and an individual woman, she allows the spokesperson for Catholicism to reject the grounds for marriage as Carmen lays them out. In Una cristiana, Moreno does not endorse Carmen's form of self-sacrifice, or consider it necessary for a daughter to abandon her father's home to avoid witnessing, and therefore supposedly condoning, the sin of relations between unmarried persons. There is vanity and a preoccupation with self-worth in Carmen's considering herself superior to the circumstances in her father's household which belies the exemplarity attributed to her as una cristiana.

Despite the seeming narrowness of her subject in these two novels, if taken, as the titles imply, to center on Carmen Aldao, and the pervasive presence of cultural stereotypes, Pardo Bazan uses both works to address issues fundamental to el siglo, especially the power of vested interests, political corruption, the future of Spain, and the construction of Spanish womanhood. Overall, she structures the novels on a series of oppositions: Catholic Spain versus Jewish ancestry, Christian virtues versus ethnic prejudice, idealism versus pragmatism, tradition versus modernity, corruption versus innocence, romanticism versus practical reality, spirituality versus material culture, etc. She plots the reversal of most of these dichotomies, so that the once romantic Salustio-Luis calls his friend "romantico, a lo joven Werther" (43)-ends up being more pragmatic, however tentatively, than the practical Portal. The repetition of the religious and cultural stereotypes of Jews and Arabs draws attention to another dimension of contemporaneous Spain's backwardness: its insularity, despite its historical cultural diversity. It also underscores the unthinking recourse by the characters, even at times by the self-conscious narrator, to ethnic stereotypes of Catholic Spain's others. Hooper convincingly argues that "the figure of the racially ambiguous priest does indeed function ... as a bodily site for exploring the anxieties arising from the conflict between Spain's racially heterogeneous past and increasingly ethnocentric present" (191). Similarly, the "Jew" Felipe forces readers to face cultural assumptions about "race" and religion and witness a morality play in which conventional Christian piety attains grace and triumphs over a dreaded epidemic. It must be remembered that while Moreno tells tales of himself masquerading as a Moor, he consistently embodies and performs as a Spanish Catholic and lives in harmony with his diverse environments until he falls ill. Contrariwise, being a "Jew" is not a performative act for Felipe; no one but his immediate family views him as anything but Catholic until the Galician press plots his political downfall. Thus the novels' ethnic, religious, and cultural labels, which derive their force from both popular and high cultural graphic and literary representations, become unstable in the face of the anxiety of a Spain in transition from a past whose cultural traditions and discourses linger on into an uncertain modernity and taint its future.


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Maryellen Bieder

Indiana University, Bloomigton

(1) As regards accusations of anti-Semitism, Beth Bauer and Brian Dendle have published two of the most significant studies of Una cristiana and La prueba. Bauer's excellent article also tracks Pardo Bazan's ideas on women and includes a valuable review of prior criticism of the two novels regarding Spanish women.

(2) All citations from Una cristiana will give page number only. Citations from La prueba include the novel's title and page number. I cite from the undated Obras completas, volumes 18 and 22, despite the plethora of typographical errors, since Pardo Bazan presumably prepared these volumes. Brian Dendle argues for the importance of using this edition, noting that the Aguilar Obras completas lacks "the italics which Pardo Bazan uses to emphasize such words as judio and deicida" (24, n. 18).

(3) Kirsty Hooper's probing essay on Arabs in turn-of-the-century fiction constitutes a notable exception that points Pardo Bazan studies in a new direction.

(4) Concretely, Una cristiana refers to "la ultima conversacion confidencial de la Regente con el Embajador de Austria" (164). If we imagine that Pardo Bazan had specific dates in mind for the action of the two novels, then the details of the Infanta Eulalia's life might serve to determine the chronology. She married on 6 March 1886, in Madrid, following the first rigorous months of mourning for her brother, King Alfonso XII. Her two sons were born in 1886 and 1888, events which would have limited her social appearances. After the birth of her younger son, Eulalia lived apart from her husband. It is not clear to what extent she appeared in public with the Queen Regent following her marriage and the birth of her children. In Una cristiana, she and her sister accompany dona Cristina to the theater, an occasion that must occur after the formal period of mourning for the King ended.

(5) Salustio denounces Luis's hero Castelar as "amigo de agradar a las duquesas, a las testas coronadas, y a eso llama el conservar la tradicion" (24), in the author's wink at her friendship with the statesman.

(6) It is worth underscoring that in this pronouncement Pardo Bazan adheres to her century's use of the term "raza," in the sense of ethnicity or culture, as she does elsewhere in the twinned novels.

(7) If one were so inclined, one could certainly object to the crudely satirical portrayal of Protestants in the novel and to the author's expressed dislike of Protestants in other novels and essays. In 1876 Praxedes Sagasta announced the results of his negotiations with Rome: "El Papa aceptaba la libertad religiosa en Espana, como la ha aceptado en todas partes. La nacion se obliga a mantener el culto y sus ministros. --Nadie sera molestado en el territorio espanol por sus opiniones religiosas, ni por el ejercicio de su respectivo culto, salvo el respeto debido a la moral cristiana. --No se permitiran, sin embargo, otras ceremonias ni manifestaciones publicas que las de la religion del Estado" (Amador de los Rios 566).

(8) Henry James and Edith Wharton excelled at narratives in which characters have no way of knowing what other characters are thinking or feeling. Starting with Leopoldo Alas's review of Pardo Bazan's two novels, critics have lambasted Pardo Bazan's failure to draw a psychological portrait of Carmen, but her reticence about Carmen's true emotions and desires is more modern than has been recognized.

(9) Even in the twentieth century Julio Caro Baroja identified Mendizabal as having the characteristics "de judio de linaje" (3:179), stating: "lo era [judio] de raza y antecedentes cercanos," despite his family's baptism in 1790 (3:182). Calling Mendizabal "el ultimo judio espanol famoso," Caro Baroja continued to link race with character: "En suma, es una figura judia tipica: nervioso, arrogante, seguro de si, precipitado si se quiere ..." (3: 183). Pardo Bazan's novels raise this association of character and ethnicity, only to have the narrator reject such stereotypical discourse. Caro also cites sources affirming that Castelar "era de origen judio" (3: 184).

(10) As is well known, it took the Second Vatican Council in 1965 to proclaim that "[Christ's] passion cannot be charged against all Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.... the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God" (Pope Paul VI).

(11) To cite one example of the danger of this single-minded focus on anti-Semitism, at the expense of other aspects of Pardo Bazan's fiction, it manifests itself in characterizations of the work of the "conservative-minded novelist" as "suffused with the racial (and racist) theories so in vogue among the scientists whose works she avidly consumed" (Martin-Marquez 46). The only source cited is Dendle's article. In a similar simplification based on an unsubstantiated assumption of the author's uninflected conservatism, Joseba Gabilondo asseverates that Pardo Bazan "holds Carlist beliefs and, therefore, upholds the reactionary ideology that Spanish nationalism developed during the Restoration" (255).

(12) In the second and third decades of the twentieth century, Unamuno had recourse to leprosy as a figure for the malady undermining Spain's national character, much as Luis Martin Santos would later use cancer to figure Spain's diseased culture under Francoism. In the prologue to the 1928 edition of Abel Sanchez Unamuno confessed: "he sentido todo el horror de la calentura de la lepra nacional espanola" (52). In the novel, Unamuno transforms the plot of La prueba into metaphor in Joaquin's words in his Confesion: "la lepra de mi alma, la gangrena de mis odios" (87). Indeed, there are resonances of the idealized Carmen Aldao in Joaquin's self-sacrificing wife Antonia, of whom he declares: "Se caso conmigo como se habria casado con un leproso, no me cabe duda de ello, por divina piedad, por espiritu de abnegacion y de sacrificio cristianos, para salvar mi alma y asi salvar la suya, por heroismo de santidad" (87).

(13) Examples from El Imparcial include: the vice of gambling in "las terribles proporciones que adquiere en Madrid esa lepra moral" (18 Aug. 1878: 1); regarding prisons, "la lepra de los abusos, de las atrocidades, de las ignominias" (21 Nov. 1878: 1); jail-bred vices seen as "una lepra moral" (7 Sept. 1882: 2); a gypsy encampment that threatens to become "un aduar tomado de lepra" (17 May 1890: 1); the abundance of free theater tickets as "una veradera lepra para las empresas" (3 Feb. 1890: 4); and even a critique of writing a book as "esa comezon literata, lepra moderna del cerebro" (15 July 1889: 1).

(14) The counterpoint to Felipe Unceta in La regenta is Alvaro Mesia whose political and sexual immorality Leopoldo Alas damns through satire and parody rather than disease.

(15) After the dissolution of the religious orders in 1835 and despite their being "puestos fuera de ley" in 1836, some religious, including Franciscans, remained in Spain in various guises (Abad Perez 258). As the Franciscan missions abroad, including Morocco, failed for lack of personnel, the central government came to regret the loss of Spanish influence in the region and "poco a poco se fue mostrando mas abierto a la concesion de licencias." Padre Moreno's base, Santiago de Compostela, was one of the Franciscan Provinces whose colegios misioneros kept the Order alive during the exclaustracion and made possible its resurgence following the restoration of the monarchy; the Colegio de Santiago sustained missions in Morocco (Abad Perez 260-61).

(16) Salustio enumerates commonplaces about friars that Moreno does not exhibit: "Ni se asusta de nada, ni es intolerante, ni rehuye ninguna conversacion de las admitidas en sociedad, no le trata a uno despoticamente, ni incurre en piadosas gansadas, ni hace cosa que no resulte discreta y oportuna" (81). In short, he behaves like a true Christian gentleman.

(17) Kirsty Hooper's revelation that silvestre moreno is "a type of granite indigenous to Galicia" leads her to perceive in the friar's name a "hint as to how to read Moreno's character" (177).

(18) Interestingly, the Third Order, which Pardo Bazan joined, played a key role in the survival of the Franciscan Order in Santiago in 1862 (580). In the context of Moreno's return to Spain, the Third Order was fundamental in "el sostenimiento del espiritu franciscano en los dificiles anos posteriores a la restauracion" (Gonzalez Lopo 583).

(19) Bauer cites Nelly Clemessy's assertion that at the end of La prueba Carmen is "a model only of the strict observance of Catholic doctrine in opposition to the general moral laxity of her society" (296).

(20) Significantly, his uncle first took Salustio to meet Belen, "una hembra superior" and "bello ejemplar del tipo madrileno" who earns her living ("el oficio oficial") by decorating candy boxes for special occasions (48-49, emphasis in the original). The point of the visit, aside from establishing Felipe's sexual history and introducing Salustio to the ways of the world, is to show that when the uncle wants something he can loosen his purse strings, albeit unwillingly in his nephew's perception of his actions.

(21) Pardo Bazan's plotting was ahead of its time. Alfonso XlI's son married-as it turned out, disastrously, on many levels-an English Anglican in 1906, following in the footsteps of Luis Portal and Maud Baldwin.
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Author:Bieder, Maryellen
Publication:Siglo Diecinueve
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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