Blood Novels: Gender, Caste, and Race in Spanish Realism
Published: August 2022© 2022
256 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Ebook - PDF
In the late nineteenth century, Spain’s most prominent writers – Juan Valera, Leopoldo Alas, and Benito Pérez Galdós – made blood a crucial feature of their fiction.
Blood Novels examines the cultural and literary significance of blood, unsettling the dominant assumption of the period that blood no longer played a decisive role in social hierarchies. By examining fictional works through the rubric of "blood novels," Julia H. Chang identifies a shared fascination with blood that probes the limits of realism through blood’s dual nature of matter and metaphor. Situating the literature within broader cultural and theoretical debates, Blood Novels attends to the aesthetic contours of material blood and in particular how bleeding is inflected by gender, caste, and race.
Critically engaging with feminist theory, theories of race and whiteness, literary criticism, and medical literature, this innovative study makes a case for treating blood as a critical analytic tool that not only sheds new light on Spanish realism but, more broadly, challenges our understanding of gendered and racialized embodiment in Spain.
2. The Colour of Blood: Racializing Illegitimacy in Doña Luz
3. From Blood to Flesh: The Right to Female Pleasure in La Regenta
4. Social Blood: The Aesthetics of the Crowd in La Desheredada
5. Transfusions: Queering Kinship in Fortunata y Jacinta
6. Coda: The Bleeding Body
7. Works Cited
"Blood Novels provides urgently needed and theoretically nuanced arguments about gender and the body in nineteenth-century narrative. Chang’s strikingly original study shows the centrality of blood, both symbolic and material, to Spanish culture."Lisa Surwillo, Associate Professor of Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford University
"A highly original work of scholarship, Blood Novels illuminates the gendered cultural significance of blood – in both its material and its discursive dimensions – as a major structuring element in the works of male Spanish realist writers. Drawing on feminist materialism that attends to the embodied experiences of women, Chang brilliantly analyses these novelists’ obsession with women’s bloodlines and bleeding bodies, showing how these representations are intertwined with sexual and racial discourses. As the first scholarly monograph to address the cultural politics of blood in nineteenth-century Spain, Blood Novels represents a major contribution to the fields of Iberian gender and cultural studies."Akiko Tsuchiya, Professor of Spanish, Washington University in St. Louis
"Combining theoretical sophistication, rigorous historicization, and meticulous close reading, Julia H. Chang’s study shows the association of blood with the female body to be a masculinist obsession underpinning the work of Spain’s male realist novelists. Her argument that the nineteenth century did not replace early modern concerns with blood with a new concern with sex, but that the two concerns coexisted uneasily, is compelling."Jo Labanyi, Professor Emerita of Spanish, New York University