Working on…

Reading about Emilia Pardo Bazán, her French connections, and her role as introducer of Russian literature in Spain. Just found out that her La revolución y la novela en Rusia, originally a series of lectures given at Ateneo de Madrid in 1887 and published in the same year, was quickly translated into English by Fanny Hale Gardiner and published in Chicago in 1890.

The novel is read neither quantitatively nor qualitatively in Spain. As to quantity, let the authors who publish, and the booksellers who sell, speak for what they know; of the quality, let the numerous lovers of Montepin and the eager readers of the translations in the feuilletines tell us. The serious and profound novel dies here without an echo; criticism makes no comment upon it, and the public ignores its appearance. Is there a single modern novel that is popular, in the true meaning of the word, among us? Has any novel had any influence at all in Spanish political, social, or moral life?

On coming from France, I have often noticed a significant fact, which is, that at the French station of Hendaye there is a stand for the sale of all the popular and celebrated novels; while at Irun, just across the frontier, only a few steps away, but Spanish, there is nothing to be had but a few miserable, trashy books, and not a sign of even our own best novelists’ works. From the moment we set foot on Spanish soil the novel, as a social element, disappears.