Pérez Galdós, Benito

Pérez Galdós, Benito

Pérez Galdós, Benito (bānēˈtō pāˈrĕth gäldōsˈ), 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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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pérez Galdós, Benito


Born May 10, 1843, in Las Palmas; died Jan. 4, 1920, in Madrid. Spanish writer. Representative of critical realism in Spanish literature. Member of the Cortes from 1886 to 1890 and in 1907; member of the Royal Academy (1897).

Pérez Galdós wrote some 80 novels and many plays and short stories. His novels The Golden Fountain (1870; Russian translations, 1881 and 1937) and The Valorous One (1871) dealt with the first Spanish revolutions of the 19th century. The novels written between 1873 and 1912 formed the series National Episodes (vols. 1–46) and are devoted to Spanish history from the battle of Trafalgar (1805) to the defeat of the revolution of 1868–74.

Pérez Galdós’ novels Saragossa (1874; Russian translations, 1896 and 1970) and Juan Martin the Obstinate One (1874; Russian translation, 1940) depicted the growth of national consciousness and the heroism of the people. Central to the novel Doña Perfecta (1876; Russian translations, 1882 and 1956) is criticism of reactionary landowners and clergy and of medieval mores and Catholic fanaticism. Pérez Galdós’ cycle Novels of the Contemporary Period (vols. 1–25, 1881–1915) is marked by antibourgeois motifs. The novel Marianela (1878; Russian translation, 1888) was the first work of Spanish literature to portray the life of workers. The influence of such Russian writers as L. N. Tolstoy is found in the novels of the 1890’s.

Pérez Galdós established the Spanish social drama with Electro (1901). His style is noteworthy for its forcefulness and acuity. Galdós’ works greatly influenced the development of the Spanish realistic novel.


Obras completas, vols. 1–6. Madrid, 1950–51.
Doña Perfecta. [Foreword by K. V. Tsurinov.] Moscow, 1964.
In Russian translation:
Ocharovannyi kaval’ero. [Foreword by B. A. Krzhevskii.] Leningrad, 1927.
Povesti; Torkvemada na kostre. [Foreword by Z. I. Plavskin.] Moscow, 1958.
Trafal’gar. [Foreword by F. V. Kel’in.] Moscow, 1961.


Shepelevich, L. “Istoriia Ispanii v istoricheskikh romanakh Peresa Gal’dosa.” Vestnik Evropy, 1908, no. 6.
Chistiakova, V. V. “Istoricheskie dramy Gal’dosa.” In the collection Zapiski o teatre. Leningrad-Moscow, 1960.
Gutiérrez Gamera, E. Galdós y su obra, vols. 1–3. Madrid, 1933–35.
Regalado García, A. B. P. Galdós y la novela histórica española, 1868–1912. Madrid, 1966.
Montesinos, J. F. Galdós, vols. 1–3. [Madrid, 1968–73.]
Cuadernos hispanoamericanos, October-January, 1970–71. (Special issue.)
Sackett, T. A. Pérez Galdós: An Annotated Bibliography. [Albuquerque, N.M., 1968.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.