My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was hard to put down. Unlike Charlotte Brontë and Mary Shelley (even though I admire their work); not to mention era, translation, and social-construction-of-gender issues, Bazán writes of a socially-constructed man better than any biologically-female woman from the nineteenth century I have read to date (to mention but a few qualifications, if indeed, I could possibly know what a socially-constructed man of the nineteenth century was like, but I doubt it could be anything like The Professor or the annoying, whingey, whiney Frankenstein). Given that George Eliot and Miles Franklin and many others had to pretend to be men to be published, even in the early 1900s, it makes me wonder if Spain was not considerably more advanced than Anglo countries in Bazán's time? Or maybe her feudal titles helped? I can only imagine what is lost in translation - and if the use of the good old "Mrs Grundy" was true to Bazán's words - but there is much to this novel that I lost due to my lack of historical knowledge of the Spain of these times. I would not have read this novel other than it was there to be read, so this was fortunate. What is unfortunate is that the book has given me a glimpse of Spanish literature that will probably remain beyond my reach for some time to come. But it is pleasing to discover classic works by female authors that is so very good, but at the same time, sad that such talent lies buried in the biases of history.
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