Gothic, Gender and Regenerationism in Emilia Pardo Bazán's Galicia
Tenreiro Prego, José Carlos
Date: 30 September 2013
University of Exeter
PhD in Hispanic Studies
This thesis investigates Emilia Pardo Bazán’s fiction predicated on the idea of a Galician regional Gothic deriving from elements of English literary tradition and nineteenth-century Spanish costumbrismo. While the recurrent use of Gothic elements in her literary output has been acknowledged and studied by a number of scholars, my ...
This thesis investigates Emilia Pardo Bazán’s fiction predicated on the idea of a Galician regional Gothic deriving from elements of English literary tradition and nineteenth-century Spanish costumbrismo. While the recurrent use of Gothic elements in her literary output has been acknowledged and studied by a number of scholars, my investigation aims to shed some light on the reasons why this writer ultimately resorts to this genre. My first level of analysis concentrates on Gothic manifestations in nineteenth-century Spanish fiction, and how Pardo Bazán adopts this genre and adapts it to her Realist and Naturalist conventions. I maintain that the primary choice for the Gothic aesthetic responds to a necessity to portray the most basic features of Galician peculiarities – its distinctive landscape and its rural Volksgeist –. In this way, Edmund Burke’s contribution to the theorization of the Sublime reveals itself to be a satisfactory resource to Pardo Bazán, who was well familiarized with the concept. The use of Gothic elements equally functions as an instrument of social criticism to raise empathy for the backwardness that Galicia suffered during the last third of the nineteenth century. Thus, while addressing the issue of women’s subordination, the author develops distinctive narrative patterns frequently associated with the so-called Female Gothic. Meanwhile, the depictions of rural characters as savage, superstitious and ignorant indicate the author’s preoccupation with the psychological processes of the Gothic and the reactions among the reading public. In depicting the plight of rural Galicia, she is actually making her readers aware of the necessity to bring this region closer to modernity, that is, to Europe. My second level of analysis focuses on the psychological dimension of the Gothic. In the exploration of such motifs as hallucinations, nightmares, uncanny locations, or hysterical attacks, Pardo Bazán’s texts call for a psychoanalytic reinterpretation of these terms. If readers of Gothic fiction seek to decipher hidden meanings within texts, I will attempt to demonstrate that a psychoanalytic approach to Pardo Bazán’s use of Gothic fiction happens to be a necessary step to the better understanding of her work. Taking all this into account, this thesis will try to show that the use of Gothic devices Pardo Bazán employs are constant throughout her literary career and help her to describe the distinctive peculiarities of Galicia while functioning as a tool of social criticism.
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