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An Introduction to Benito Pérez Galdós and The Pérez Galdós Editions Project

Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920) is generally recognized as Spain's greatest writer of fiction after Cervantes, and as ranking among the great nineteenth-century realists with Dickens, Balzac and Tolstoy. His work, like theirs, evokes by its very nature, an interdisciplinary response; knowledge of the novels and knowledge of their age (though never simply identical) remain inseparable. Yet the very scale of his literary output has in some ways worked against this: 31 novels, 46 Episodios Nacionales, 23 plays, and the equivalent of twenty volumes of shorter fiction, journalism and other writings. Much still remains to be done by way of systematic editing, and still more with regard to detailed concordancing and indexing.

The Pérez Galdós Editions project was established in April 1996 by the Sheffield University Department of Hispanic Studies within the University's Humanities Research Institute. At its core is the Institutional Fellowship funded by the British Academy and supported by the Humanities Research Institute's wide experience in the electronic processing of major bodies of text.

The aim of the project is two-fold: to produce hard-copy texts (or 'editions'), reliably founded on manuscripts and early editions, with a critical apparatus full enough to justify their use as a scholarly standard; and to publish the texts in an electronic form (or 'package'), incorporating full textual apparatus, various indexes and concordances, including recurring characters, locations and temporal references, and an array of relevant historical background matter. The specific four-year undertaking to which the Fellowship is linked is concerned with the four novels centred on the Madrid moneylender Francisco Torquemada, Torquemada en la hoguera, Torquemada en la Cruz, Torquemada en el purgatorio, and Torquemada y San Pedro.

This is seen as the opening phase of a longer-term development, involving the active collaboration of Galdós scholars from many centres, especially those from Spanish universities, with whom formal collaborative arrangements are currently being developed through the offices of the Spanish Cultural Counsellor in London. The ultimate goal of the project - richly worthwhile if we can achieve it - is a standard scholarly presentation, in the form here outlined, of the entire Novelas españolas contemporáneas.


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The Pérez Galdós Editions Project