Tristana by Benito Perez Galdos
Don Lope is a Don Juan, an aging but still effective predator on the opposite sex. He is also charming and generous, unhesitatingly contributing the better part of his fortune to pay off a friend’s debts, kindly assuming responsibility for the friend’s orphaned daughter, lovely Tristana. Don Lope takes her into his house and before long he takes her to bed.
It’s an arrangement that Tristana accepts more or less unquestioningly— that is, until she meets the handsome young painter Horacio. Then she actively rebels, sets out to educate herself, reveals tremendous talents, and soon surpasses her lover in her open defiance of convention. One thing is for sure: Tristana will be her own woman.
And when it counts Don Lope will be there for her.
Benito Pérez Galdós, one of the most sophisticated and delightful of the great European novelists, was a clear-eyed, compassionate, and not-a-little amused observer of the confusions, delusions, misrepresentations, and perversions of the mind and heart. He is the unsurpassed chronicler of the reality show called real life.
"Told in sophisticated yet enveloping prose, Tristana is a treasure that should not be overlooked. Perez Galdos barely breaks a sweat as he weaves a tale of intelligence and emotional richness comparable to the works of Charles Dickens and Gustave Flaubert. And while the pace of the story is expertly controlled, there is an urgency to each sentence, paragraph, page. At its heart, it’s about how we should hurry up and become who we are. Or else."
—Juan Vidal, NPR
"Tristana is a peach. An utterly delicious novel, even better than the Bunuel film."
"Galdos was the great novelist of Madrid, chronicling bourgeois, urban manners with a clarity and understanding critics have found comparable to that of Dickens, Balzac and Flaubert."
—Raymund A. Paredes, Los Angeles Times
Series: NYRB Classics