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Picture of Halma by Benito Pérez Galdós

Halma by Benito Pérez Galdós

Editor(s): Robert S. Rudder, Ignacio López-Calvo

Book Description

Galdós’s early writings were inspired by the French writer Émile Zola, a practitioner of the literary school of Naturalism. This interest then turned to a type of spiritual naturalism under the influence of Russian writers, including Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Turgenev, whom he called his “great teacher.” One of his most important works during this period was the novel, Nazarín, a kind of retelling of the life of Christ, in which the main character, a disgraced priest, wanders about the countryside with two female companions, attempting to follow the teachings of the Bible to the letter. He is taken for either a saint or a mad man, and at the end is shut up in an institution.

The publication of Nazarín was followed by its sequel, Halma, only six months later. In this novel, the protagonist, an aristocratic lady named Halma, after suffering great hardships, decides to use her inheritance to found an idyllic Christian society, harboring the needy and the sick. Two of its citizens will be the priest, Nazarín, and one of his two women followers; another will be Halma’s ne’er-do-well male cousin, Urrea. Her family and their friends express admiration for her high ideals, but they also believe she may be just as mad as the priest, and work to defeat her. A fortunate denouement comes only after the unforeseen intervention of the supposedly “mad” priest.

Halma also has many points of contact with the motion picture Viridiana, by Spain’s’ great director, Luis Buñuel. In this film, a religious novice, Viridiana, attempts to turn a farm into a shelter for needy beggars. During her absence, however, the beggars wreck the house in a drunken orgy. While not sharing Buñuel’s artistic vision, Galdós, nevertheless, expresses his own ideas with great imagination.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-7164-8
ISBN-10: 1-4438-7164-8
Date of Publication: 01/02/2015
Pages / Size: 190 / A5
Price: £41.99


Benito Pérez Galdós, the author of more than thirty novels of the contemporary scene, also wrote forty-six historical novels and a considerable number of works for the theater. He is recognized today as one of Spain’s greatest novelists, second only to Miguel de Cervantes, author of the immortal Don Quijote de la Mancha.

Robert S. Rudder, author of The Literature of Spain in English Translation, has translated a number of works by Spanish and Latin American writers. He has worked as Professor of Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Minnesota, the University of California in Los Angeles, and other colleges in California.

Ignacio López-Calvo is a Professor of Latin American Literature at the University of California, Merced. He is the author of seven books on Latin American and US Latino literature and culture, including Dragons in the Land of the Condor: Tusán Literature and Knowledge in Peru and The Affinity of the Eye: Writing Nikkei in Peru.