History of Modern Spain
That Bringas Women: Book Review That Bringas Women by Benito Perez Galdos was a very interesting book. The book brought you back to the time of Spain’s major transitions. Benito Perez Galdos was born in the Canary Islands then moved to Madrid when he was a teenager. He loved to travel, which made him encounter many major historical events. One of the biggest historical periods he lived through was the Spanish Revolution. That Bringas Woman is one of many novels he wrote that dealt with the Madrid social life during the Spanish Revolution. It is basically his perspective in how he views the Spanish society during that period. This novel also clearly reflects the gender roles, social class, and the society issues of Spain in the 19th century. That Bringas Woman takes place in Madrid at the Royal Palace surrounded by members of the hierarchy. Rosalia and Don Francisco are interesting characters. The married couple doesn’t really get a long. Rosalia is secretive with her daily activities and lies a lot to Don Francisco. I believe Benitez Galdos tries to compare the complications of Rosalia and Don Francisco’s marriage with infidelity of the bureaucracy
And yet, it starts promisingly enough. The first chapter is akin to a gauntlet being thrown at the modern genre reader that I am, consisting in a long drawn-out description a picture, which we eventually find out to be made entirely of hair. It was a clear and unconventional signal that I’d better pay attention to the book, or else.
Fortunately, I stuck with it. That Bringas Woman is a sly satiric portrait of a dysfunctional family headlined by a boring accountant who develops a quasi-morbid fascination with creating a hair picture memorial to a departed friend (“the whole thing must be done in the family hair” asks the widow [P.5]) and a woman (that Bringas woman, as it is), who is consumed with an irresistible compulsion to buy, buy, buy more and more fine clothes. All obsessions have their prices, and so is is that the Bringas man goes blind and the Bringas woman accumulates some significant debts. Only sin will save her… or will it?
At it happened, I ended up reading That Bringas Woman concurrently with Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke. That was an invaluable exercise in perspective. Despite their different backgrounds, eras and approaches, both authors are really writing about the same things; characters consumed by their ambitions to the point of self-destruction. Palahniuk’s Victor Mancini might be a sex-addicted swindler with strong issues with his mother, but is he so different from Pérez Galdós’ Bringas, whose insatiable lust for fine things drive her to debauchery?
Now don’t get the impression that I thought this was a fantastic novel. After a very good first half, the novel sort of settles into inconsequentiality for much of its latter portion, never fully exploiting the various tensions set up in previous portions of the novel. Several seemingly useless passages are revealed to be ultimately just that; useless. While it would have been natural to expect a dramatic humiliation for Bringas, she barely suffers for her sins, as if Pérez Galdós couldn’t make himself be too harsh on the character. The parallels between the Bringas and the royal Spanish regime are also less and less exploited, leading even more to a strong feeling of untapped potential in the novel’s promise.
On the other hand, I can’t say enough good things about the Everyman edition of That Bringas Woman: Not only is the translation delightfully spot-on (with added modern touches, such as when the story of Adam and Eve is said to be so timeless as to be worth featuring on yesterday’s evening news), but the novel is encapsulated in enough