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“Un estado de la conciencia contemporánea”: género y moral en La sirena negra de Emilia Pardo Bazán
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Despite Emilia Pardo Bazán’s prominent feminism, La sirena negra has been strangely overlooked by gender studies. When the novel was published in 1908, Gómez de Baquero judged it “non feminist” due to its superficial heroines and the centrality of its complex masculine characters. Academic studies of La sirena negra have not refuted this idea, since they have elided gender approaches to focus on its decadent aesthetics. This article argues, on the contrary, that the novel’s androcentrism can be read as a Pardo Bazan’s strategy to appropriate the patriarchal discourse and hold it responsible for national degeneration. Emilia Pardo Bazán was harshly affected by the fin-de-siècle crisis. In her opinion, Spanish decay came from a lack of solid morality. Thus, Catholic principles should be restored because they would provide the autoregulation mechanisms to regenerate and reassemble the country. Literature should show the new reality, and the French roman psychologique provided her with an appropriate model. La sirena negra sets out the problem of the moral anomie through its protagonist, Gaspar de Montenegro. The analysis of his sexuality and gender performance reveals the danger of this amoral behavior for the degeneration of society, attributed ultimately to the patriarchal order and the androcentric discourse.
La sirena negra
Emilia Pardo Bazán
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