Nazarín

Nazarín, by Benito Pérez Galdós
Published in 1895, 247 pages
My Rating,  ★★★★✫
(Buñuel made a movie based on it)

Nazarín can be found in English, though I read it in Spanish. I read it because Galdós is one of my favorite authors. And it happens to fit into the book in translation category of the Back to the Classics Challenge.

Nazarín is short for Nazario Zaharín, a peculiar clergy man who becomes a homeless vagabond by his own choice. This is a most unusual book to me. It was written in 1895. At the times of the book, many men and women lived in the streets, they were beggars, and it was not unusual for them to wander from town to town trying to survive. At the same time, others lived in abundance. It was a trying Madrid and surrounding localities, that of Nazarín, and the adventures and misfortunes he encounters afforded me a wonderful reading time.

As always, Galdós has the best dialogues, a change of voice for each character (great or small), that makes his book stand up as vivacious, real, and amusing. I’ve never been so surprised by characters and thematic as with Galdós, who, while relating to us the lives of very common individuals, weaves many whimsical situations and occurrences in his novels.

At times it made me think of the character in Camús, The Stranger, although the style and story is not any similar, it’s because of the demeanor of Nazarín, who is a sincere man who says the truth and adheres to such an idealistic goal of life, that almost nobody believes he can be that straightforward, truthful, and basically such a good man.

The similarities with him and Don Quijote and Christ jump out of the text. Those who are idealist remind us of Don Quijote, as those who are fundamentally good at heart, like Nazarín, remind us of Christ. (And maybe there’s also a premeditated imagery in the book meant to take us to the life of Christ).

I thought that Nazarín acted as a mirror for those who come to know him. Some cannot penetrate in his logic, or understand his actions, because they are looking at Nazarín through themselves, and they despise him, or love him thinking him to be who they want him to be. Others are prompted to do introspection, and allow Nazarín to be the motivator for a change of heart.

And there’s this indescribable tenderness in Nazarín and other characters. Nobody in Galdós books is perfect, yet there’s so much to love in the people he introduces to us, readers, so much real pain, and love, and candor without any saccharine or artificiality (which I’d detest).

Galdós writes about the human soul, about real people, and he does elevate the common to art. He won’t leave you indifferent nor dissatisfied.

 

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7 thoughts on “Nazarín

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  1. Having been recently introduced to Galdos, by you dear friend, I have to fully agree with you that he “won’t leave you indifferent nor dissatisfied.” So very true. This sounds like a book I will want to read, especially due to the fact that so few of his works have been translated into English. Too bad for those of us who do not speak and read Spanish!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am very sure you’d love anything by Galdós, you can’t go wrong with this one, or his other title, Our Friend Manso (both in English for not much at abe or Amazon, -maybe even at your library). Galdós is such a master of the dialogue, humor, and portrayal of those different societal classes, there’s some Spanish quality to his novels that you only get through him. It’s like reading Victorian novel but set in Spain, which makes it have a different flavor, it’s refreshing -a bit different to the nineteenhundredness of the English novels we read.

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