Pérez Galdós, Benito

Pérez Galdós, Benito bānēˈtō pāˈrĕth gäldōsˈ [key], 1843–1920, Spanish novelist and dramatist, b. Canary Islands. At 20 he went to Madrid, where he spent most of his adult life. For his masterly treatment of the vast panorama of Spanish society, he has been called the greatest Spanish novelist since Cervantes. His many works include a cycle of 46 historical novels, Episodios nacionales, which relates episodes in Spanish history from 1805 to the end of the century. Doña Perfecta (1876, tr. 1880) and La familia de León Roch (1878, tr. 1886) are among his better-known didactic novels. Fortunata and Jacinta (1886–87, tr. 1986), his four-volume masterpiece, contrasts the lives of two women of widely different classes. His plays were less successful than his novels. In 1897 he was elected to the Royal Academy, and in 1907 he became deputy of the republican party in Madrid. He went blind in 1912 but continued to dictate his books until his death. Other works in English translation are Tristana (tr. 1961) and Compassion (tr. 1962).

See studies by S. Gilman (1981) and P. A. Bly (1983).

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