It is not surprising--but it is limiting in terms of socio-historical perspectives on the author--that many of the major voices who would look to re-position his work within a canon embodying an aesthetic of pure art on a European level and in tacit resistance to an unacceptable regime would also look to recuperate the author as transcending his national art and culture e. Las Americas, , surveys representations of anticlericalism in the work of Spanish liberal authors e.
In a final section, it provides a near primary account of the suppression of anticlerical sentiments and ideologies in the press and in the literary establishment under the Franco regime.
In doing so, the critic does not reject so explicitly the historical 67 In his Tres personajes Galdosianos: Gredos, , is also typical in this regard. Referring to the workings of what has been seen as anticlerical in Casandra, Ricard remarks that the lesson seems rather to be a Christian one: In terms of religion, the later thesis of Christianity or post-Christianity seems to have redressed the question of Catholicism as a cultural tradition most fundamentally rooted in surrounding phenomena , reclaiming religion in the form of a set of aesthetic qualities, with little, if any, reference to the existing political and institutional references of the term for Spain.
As more modern critics would come to approach the work, they often found its emphasis on such values to be somewhat staid, with its supposedly problematic moralizing, which, they felt, put a distance between the values that it seemed to project and its cultural relevance. An earlier generation of critics associates the humble beginnings of Misericordia as a noteworthy work engaging the long history of a difficult social climate in a modernizing Spain. Especially in the years surrounding the Civil War, critics would devote studies to hailing its artistic goal of national consolation and redemption, reading it as an ethical project with nationalist implications rather than a specifically sectarian 60 religious one.
The later essay reprises her earlier one in re-evaluating the novel, as the critic portrays the worth of Misericordia as culturally twofold. Her overall evaluation of the work will thus persist in becoming more plainly historically anachronistic. Biblioteca del Hispanista, Not yet having been accepted on an aesthetic level, as none of its sisters was, this novel was now slated to be the less worthy religious text of the group. Ese personaje se llama Benina, y es la protagonista de Misericordia.
Finding in this way a new in-road for judging the artistic worth of a religious text, the previously shelved Misericordia, would begin to acquire foothold within the New Critical canon, revived by supported artistry represented in its heroine. At the same time, the novel shed its residual promise of or claim to offering insight as a cultural-historical narrative. That is, while the older, mid-century reading had still been far from claming a genuine social relevance for the text claiming it as redemptive , it would certainly have come closer to it than would this new variant, which stressed its ethical or humanistChristian values as key to its aesthetics.
Here the metaphor of peddling garbanzo beans is replaced with that of pedaling a musical instrument. By this measure, Benina, an unexpected and rather unsuspecting heroine, will enable Russell to draw out his argument about the figure: The values of the Gospel [in Misericordia], positively conceived, are not laid out upon a hero or suggested mechanically by events.
They arise from within the novel and from within the heroine. Las Americas, ; Robert Russell is confident enough in this regard to begin his study with the following: The critic was, it seems, successful in making this graft. As the bulk of a scholarship surrounding the s would continue to focus on the novel as the exposition of an artistically heightened religious thematics, it would do so only in variants of these earlier strategies.
Notable among critical voices in this period are Gilberto Paolini ,79 J.
Yet while Paolini conceives of charity in all its aspects theological, philosophical, etc. Varey and Robert J.
Many other notable accounts of this important decade for the text characterize the novel as globally Christian, in a reprise of Russell. For instance, Theodore S. Approaching the novel as more generally religious, Sara E. Schyfter 87 reads Judaism and Christianity both as its central ideological principles--yet with the Jewish faith personified in the character of Almudena as revealing the comparative inauthenticity of the Christian one.
As case in point, Harry L. Romuald, the founder of the Order of the Camaldolese. Like author, like child: Rescued, according to the critics, from their sordid pasts as historically realistic in feature, they were reclaimed almost simultaneously 88 An exception to the consensus of the novel as religious is Donald W. Bleznick and Mario E.http://exposureaccelerated.com/584-best-smartphone-tracking.php
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At the same time, these essentially partial readings of the novel are unstable, making it a tool by which scholars would stake their claim on the author in terms of their personal value structures as critics. In this sense, this story of critical reappropriations of author and text--as many are--has been a tale of the loss of artistic nationalism, as well as of the 90 N.
Writing at the outer historical limit of the New Critical period , Miller also attests to the modern feature and failure of this kind of religious aestheticization: It is so easy to see why it is that the relations of religion and literature are now of special concern. In a time when the power of organized religion has weakened, people have turned, as Matthew Arnold said they would, to poetry as a stay and prop, even as a means of salvation. Arnold, however, was wrong, and T.
Literature is not a means of salvation. Towards Reclaiming the Realist and his Work In light of such historical reductionism by critics, I will in the next chapters reengage a discussion of the novel as historical and political. Thus, I will approach Misericordia three times, piecemeal, to trace how it provides its readership with a complex network of references drawn religious culture--religious themes, motifs, and materials readily identifiable within the popular sphere.
His artistry was not necessarily directed toward the creation of a utopian vision, nor for moralizing in any absolute sense, nor simply for proving his mettle as creative. Instead, if read more carefully from positions within the Catholic imaginary of a contemporaneous Spain, the 69 author can be shown to use these religious materials in order to speak both realistically and politically.
In this chapter, I supplant this interpretation, re-claiming a cultural-historical approach to the character, who in this aestheticizing standardization has been rejected as artistically base or provincial. Notably, I will consider this symbolic association through the lens of religious iconography, as my Introduction suggests, drawing here from the details or associations of the Madrid Virgin within a Catholic religious imaginary and, moreover, recovering her as a nationalhistorical emblem, used to communicate in an implicit dialogue with its readership.
Rather, I will interpret the character as a more full-spectrumed ethno-religious representation. In this light, I contend, Almudena would have appealed first and most commonly to a Madrid-Catholic readership as the figuration of their Virgin. Earlier accounts, as we have seen, have tended to read the character as a syncretic figure, both as the semblance of a Jew, Christian, and Muslim, or as Semitic only.
Later accounts have alternatively tended to transform him into a more nation-specific figure a Spanish Jew or Catholic but at the cost of excluding his other religious faces. He theoretically elides their historical references as competing monotheisms and to instead stress more general spiritual paradigms, namely, the higher moral values of human and religious love. For Casalduero, the author aims in the novel to resolve universal conflicts, ostensibly by espousing a spiritual-ethical transcendence of more than local appeal.
This reduction in turn limits a potentially compelling socio-cultural commentary reducing it to the status of a romance or a culturally and historically whitewashed idealism.
As his Almudena will be symbolic of ideals then, and not of historical circumstance, within that Utopia, I claim, the critique ultimately loses Almudena as a cultural signifier. Much as Casalduero transitions Almudena out of an accessible reality and into a context of universals, Ricard argues for the character as representing a symbolic transcendence. This latter critic finds narrative clues that characterize Almudena as a 94 Two defining moments in the early history of Spain are the Moorish Conquest in the eighth century of the Iberian Peninsular, or the landmass its shares with Portugal, and the Reconquest of that territory through the late medieval period c.
The long period of the Reconquest, which encompassed the mass immigration of erudite Arabs and Jews to Castile in the late thirteenth century, is commonly accepted as having born a phenomenon of cultural integration of faiths and traditions, in the face of and despite political struggles.
To read on aspects of the cultural impact of the Moorish conquest and on the origins of Spanish culture as the modern mixture of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, see the impressions of John A.
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A Companion to Spanish Studies, ed. As the critic reads it, this figure or type will reappear in this novel, namely, evoked when Almudena recites Hebrew prayers in fifteenth-century Old Spanish. He will interpret these references in the Almudena figure not as a barometer for social implication, but as a symbol of artificial and exotic ethnic-religious variation i.
While thus taking the figure as a simulacrum of religious tolerance, Ricard might further have developed a commentary on the traces of historical prejudice particular to a Spanish Catholic public or readership of the nineteenth century. Standing in contrast to the reductive theism in Casalduero and to the a-historical Semitic tolerance in Ricard, Almudena is treated in Schyfter as an artistic expression of the Jewish nation, considered now to be a dominant thematic in Misericordia. More specifically, this critic will pursue the idea of a Jewish Almudena as an instrument of 96 From the perspective of Spanish history, the Moors or North African Muslim Arabs are perhaps the most infamous aggressors and unwelcome cohabitants of Iberian Peninsular.
A Companion to Spanish Studies.
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Appearing in the narrative at first as a stereotyped figure specific to a Christian community, that is, as sorcerer, moneylender, or devil dealer , Almudena later, according to Schyfter, will counter these stereotypes by ethically outshining his Christian neighbors and, as she also notes, by subtly transitioning his practice of faith from the stereotypically Jewish to the more traditional namely, in the Mount Sinai scene; As the novel will distinguish Almudena as a truly charitable and pious Jew, the critic will thus read it as a commentary on tolerance.
That is, as Almudena fraternizes with Benina, a true Christian who shares his style of selfabnegating charity, this pair of mendicants will come to portray a reconciliation of religious or, rather, spiritual ideals , Is it not, therefore, possible that Benina, the true Christian, represents in Misericordia the beginning of the fulfillment of the Messianic time and of the promised return to Jerusalem?
The entire context of her ascent to Mount Sinai is given in an overwhelmingly Jewish mystical setting, one that possibly alludes not only to the liturgy of the Sabbath, but even to the traditional Sabbath meal, which may be symbolized in the fact that Benina and Almudena eat atop Mount Sinai. In the analysis that follows in my text, I will focus on the former.
It not only marks the spot where the first place of worship was erected in Madrid, but it has also traditionally housed the sanctuary where rulers of the city and later those of modern Spain attended services. If not the actual brick and mortar descendant of the earlier Jewish synagogue as some claim , it was, of course, the spiritual descendant of Judaism. These representatives from mainstream critical history have read Almudena as anything from a reference to all religions inclusively to one of monotheistic exclusionism, from Semitic to Jewish to Catholic.
Most neglected in this mix has been what the character in fact recalls of the cultural-religious history of Catholic Spain and, what is more, his doing so in an affirmative sense. As I have traced these patterns of critical neglect above, I have also pointed to certain isolated leads that each critic has opened.
These are leads that, despite being buried in critical 80 agendas of painting author and text as timeless, lend themselves to a more cultural reading of the narrative figure at hand. At the same time, I will overlay the interpretation of the character as Catholic with one that considers the cultural tradition more precisely within the historical era. Taking this alternate approach to an old puzzle then, I will first offer some modest insights on expressions of the Catholic faith associated with the Virgin Mary more generally and then turn to recount, in three phases, the history of Virgin Almudena, as the spiritual patron and physical icon adopted by a rising Spanish nation-state.
The Virgin Mary resonates profoundly within Catholicism as a culturally dynamic and pluralistic spiritual patron. In popular contexts of the faith or as part of a Catholic religious imaginary in many countries, she overshadows any other patron saint, even the most glorified, in terms of popularity or reverence paid to her and of her presence in the daily experience or lives of believers.
Some of the most recognizable Christ, for example, is contemplated more as a biblical figure and less so as a spiritual presence in daily life. And, at times, the signified will fail to be distinguishable at all from its signifier thus looking to critics of the church like idolatry. In a different way, the modern European empires have also vanished, but the metropolis or country Spain, France, England that held power over alien lands and peoples remains today as an unquestionable political and cultural fact.
At the same time, although the mother country and the former dependencies exist autonomously, they are still G. Navajas interconnected through myriad political and cultural organizations and movements the British Commonwealth, the Ibero-American Conferences, the francophonie movement. Thus the ramifications of the discourse of empire are still central to understanding the dynamics of modern European history and that of the former colonies.
Because the hegemony of European nations is intimately connected to the imperial project, it is understandable that the disappearance of their colonies and dependent territories, and the transformation of these entities into sovereign nations, not only has enduring political and economic consequences for the nations deprived of their possessions, but also leaves an indelible imprint on the cultural discourse of those nations.
Spain is a case in point. Spain is the first major European power that must deal with the trauma of the crumbling of its vast empire, first in the American continent in the first three decades of the nineteenth century, and later at the end of that century with the loss of its last possessions in the Caribbean and the Philippines. Other nations such as France and England experience the loss of empire later in the twentieth century, mostly as a consequence of the outcome of the Second World War that precipitates the dismembering of the empires of both nations.
This reality is especially evident at the turn of the century, with the events of the Spanish-American War of , which signal the definite twilight of the formerly far-flung empire. The three authors share a common intellectual orientation characterized by their preoccupation with national decline and the problems associated with the insertion of Spain in the broader context of European modernity. For them, the position of the country with regard to its empire is a marginal issue, and it is not given extensive or deep consideration. Unlike other figures of his generational group, for Unamuno the disappearance of the last remnants of the vast Spanish empire and the global power attached to it are lesser facts when contrasted with the Spain he sees as a repository of spiritual and cultural principles and values that other European nations—ostensibly more powerful than Spain—have lost in the pursuit of modern materialistic progress.
Navajas Unamuno, on the other hand, perceives Spanish distinction not as a defense of the orthodoxy of the Catholic faith, but as the creation of a cognitive and cultural paradigm structured around a spiritual, nonrationalist conception of the world. For Unamuno, the more differentiated and unique the nation, the stronger its values become. The emblem for this spiritually renovated nation is a highly subjective version of the figure of Don Quixote, reconstituted to suit the personal conception of the national cultural paradigm that Unamuno has created.
Through his personal configuration of a new quixotic philosophy, Unamuno restores the ascendancy of aesthetic and religious drive over positivist and technical reason.