UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (0175) Degree: PHD Date: 1986;
Source: DAI-A 47/04, p. 1349, Oct 1986
Subject: LITERATURE, ROMANCE (0313)
Order No: AAC 8614851 ProQuest - Dissertation Abstracts
This dissertation is a study of the role of the reader as it develops in the nineteenth century Spanish novel. It consists mainly of an analysis of the indications--explicitly and implicitly inscribed in the text--which guide the reading process. The novels, Mariano José de Larra's El doncel (1834), Braulio Foz's Vida de Pedro Saputo (1844), Juan Valera's Pepita Jimenez (1874), and Benito Perez Galdós' Doña Perfecta (1876), represent examples of different narrative genres dominant in the period: the historical, the fantastic, the idealist and the realist. My analysis draws from the established criticism of nineteenth century fiction (e.g., Montesinos, Brown, Casalduero), as well as from reader-oriented theory of various schools (e.g. Iser, Jauß, Eco, Barthes, Genette). In El doncel the text dictates a specific path the reader is to follow. It indicates exactly which operations to perform and what their results should be, what moral stance to take, which events are most important and why. These indications are less determinate in Pedro Saputo, where the fantastic precludes such certainty, and the reader is confronted with mutually exclusive choices at the level of the story.
The later works often require that the reader select one of several alternatives arising from contradictions between the story and the narrator's discourse; it is left to the reader to decide, on examining the textual evidence, what constitutes the "narrative truth". From the beginning the Doña Perfecta the reader assembles the information provided into a whole, adding any missing connections, and then interprets the resulting images, which, as the novel continues, will be revised and even displaced by others. The ideological code remains overdetermined in Pepita Jiménez and in Doña Perfecta, but less so in the latter (witness the conflicting critical interpretations).
My findings point to an increasingly active reader. As the century progresses, the text demands more. The reader's encoded role requires him to participate in reconstructing and interpreting all aspects of the novel at the level of the story and, ultimately, to judge the fictional world following indications that became more and more indeterminate.