This new interdisciplinary study argues that the late-nineteenth-century Spanish realist novel not only documents but also forms part of the contemporary nation-formation process. Drawing on a wide range of recent cultural theory from largely English- and French-language sources, it relates their insights to contemporary Spanish debates in the fields of economics, politics, medicine and town planning, showing that the cultural anxieties dominant in other western nations at the time found acute expression in Spain precisely because of the imperfect nature of the modernization process. In particular the book studies the ways in which women function in canonical Spanish realist texts as a cipher for anxieties about modernization, and especially about its conversion of reality into representation. the consequence is an intense self-reflexivity which mirrors contemporary critiques of flawed systems of monetary and political representation, as well as the emphasis by social reformers on self-making.
This is a formidable study, as massive and detailed as it is stimulating and provocative, and will be a must-have for everyone working in the field of the late nineteenth-century novel. Indeed, it is arguable that it makes essential preparatory reading for work on the early twentieth century. (Bulletin of Spanish Studies
The analysis of the novels is thorough and full of fresh insights ... This is unquestionably an outstanding study, which I feel confident will remain a landmark in the understanding of nineteenth-century Spanish culture for years to come. (Eamonn Rodgers, University of Strathclyde, Modern Language Review
This is a very important book indeed ... The argument of the book is supported not only by detailed and illuminating analyses of eleven major novels but by an impressive range of historical scholarship. (Eamonn Rodgers, University of Strathclyde, Modern Language Review