Benito Pérez Galdós

Benito Pérez Galdós (1843–1920) was a Spanish realist novelist. Some authorities consider him second only to Cervantes in stature as a Spanish novelist. He was the leading literary figure in 19th century Spain.

He was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, in 1843 and in 1862 moved to Madrid to study law. He spent most of his adult life there. By 1865 he was publishing articles in La Nación on literature, art, music, and politics and it was clear that he was not going to pursue a legal career. His first attempt at a literary career came in 1867, when a didactic historical verse drama was rejected. His next venture into the theatre did not take place until 1892. He had already become enthusiastic about the novels of Charles Dickens and, in 1868, his translation of Pickwick Papers introduced his work to the Spanish public. The previous year, he had visited Paris and had begun to read the works of Balzac. In 1870, he was appointed editor of La Revista de España and began to express his opinions on a wide range of diverse topics such as history, culture, politics, art, music and literature. Between 1867 and 1868, he wrote what would be his first novel, La Fontana de Oro, a historical work set in the period 1820-23. Critical reaction was slow to gain momentum but it was eventually hailed as the beginning of a new phase in Spanish fiction, and was highly praised for its literary quality as well as for its social and moral purpose.

He next developed the outline of a major project, the Episodios Nacionales: a series of historical novels outlining the major events in Spanish history from the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 to his own times. The ostensible aim of this project was to regenerate Spain through the awakening of a new sense of national identity. The first episode was called Trafalgar and appeared in 1873.

AOS Naval Fiction

Series: Episodios Nacionales
Year  Book  Comment
  Trafalgar A novel of the battle from a Spanish writer (English translation edition available)

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