Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
Doña Perfecta
Benito Pérez Galdós (1843–1920)
Doña Perfecta, by Benito Pßrez Galdós. This exquisite romance, the translation of which was published in 1880, is a vivid description of life in a Spanish provincial town, just before the Carlist war. Doña Perfecta Rey de Polentinos is a wealthy widow, just in all her dealings, kind and charitable, but a perfect type of the narrow-minded and even cruel spirit of old Spain. The Spanish hate the national government, but have a peculiar local patriotism, which in this case turns an apparently kind and honorable woman against her own nephew, because he dislikes the customs of her beloved town.  1
  This nephew, Don José Rey, handsome, generous, and rich, is the hero of the story, whose incidents are the outgrowth of old prejudice—religious and political.  2
  The author endeavors to show that the offenses of Doña Perfecta are the result of her position and surroundings rather than inherent in her character. In this book he begins to exploit the modern Spain and its clashing interests. He brings “the new and the old face to face,” to use the words of Professor Marsh: “the new in the form of a highly trained, clear-thinking, frank-speaking modern man; the old in the guise of a whole community so remote from the current of things that its religious intolerance, its social jealousy, its undisturbed confidence and pride in itself, must of necessity declare instant war upon that which comes from without, unsympathetic and critical. The inevitable result is ruin for the party whose physical force is less, the single individual; yet hardly less complete ruin for those whom intolerance and hate have driven to the annihilation of their adversary.” The story was published in 1876, and reached its ninth edition in 1896.  3

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