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A journey to Galdós’ Madrid through his books

By | 3 June, 2020 | 0 comments

El Madrid de Galdós

On the occasion of the centenary of the death of the famous writer Benito Pérez Galdós, we dive into his work to discover that other Madrid of the 19th century, so different and yet so recognisable, which has been portrayed in his novels.

They tell about Galdós, and he himself confirms this in texts written as prologues to reprints of his works and correspondence, that he used to walk around the city incognito. Sometimes even disguised as a civil servant or accompanied by the police for security reasons. He visited all kinds of scenes in order to be able to portray them with his agile and brilliant pen and listened to conversations in order to imitate the speech of the people of Madrid from different social strata.

Tormento (1884)

The novel takes place in Madrid in the winter of 1867. “Everything that is not this little piece does not seem to me to be Madrid” says Rosalía from the historic quarter, where our hotel is located, and more specifically from the Plaza Mayor and the Plaza de Oriente.

Fortunata y Jacinta (1887)

Many are the corners of Madrid that are mentioned in this masterpiece of Castilian literature. We have this paragraph on Calle Toledo: “The half-built stalls all over the pavement from the portals to San Isidro, the trinkets, the tambourines, the ordinary crockery, the laces, the copper from Alcaraz and the twenty thousand knick-knacks that appeared inside those niches of badly nailed boards and worse laid out canvases, passed before his eyes without determining an exact appreciation of what they were.”

In Fortunata y Jacinta, Galdós gives an enormous role to all kinds of shops, and especially to many cafés in Madrid, such as Café del Siglo, Café de Fornos or Café Suizo.

Misericordia (1897)

In this work, Galdós focuses on the underworld of the time. He portrays people from the lowest social ranks as bourgeois families fallen from grace, servants and people forced to beg to survive. It repeats here many of the scenarios described in previous works, but especially the old districts of La Latina, Inclusa and Hospital

La de Bringas (1884)

Shopping fever in Madrid and other capitals is not new. Already in this novel, Galdós portrays a “shopping addict” who lives near the Royal Palace: “the part of Madrid that can be discovered from there, with more than fifty domes, swords and bell towers. Felipe IV’s horse looked like a toy to us, the Teatro Real like a barracks, and the upper level of the Palace’s cornice like a wide bridge over the cliff, where anyone who did not suffer from vertigo could run freely”.

In many of his novels he mentioned Botín and Lhardy, two century-old establishments in Madrid that have survived to the present day. And of course, to pay tribute to this distinguished writer and the great legacy he left us in his works, don’t miss the monument in his honour that was erected in El Retiro Park.

Categories: Guías Madrid

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