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by Benito Pérez Galdós, introduction by Jeremy Treglown, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

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Don Lope is a Don Juan, an aging but still effective predator on the opposite sex. He is also charming and generous, unhesitatingly contributing the better part of his fortune to pay off a friend’s debts, kindly assuming responsibility for the friend’s orphaned daughter, lovely Tristana. Don Lope takes her into his house and before long he takes her to bed.

It’s an arrangement that Tristana accepts more or less unquestioningly— that is, until she meets the handsome young painter Horacio. Then she actively rebels, sets out to educate herself, reveals tremendous talents, and soon surpasses her lover in her open defiance of convention. One thing is for sure: Tristana will be her own woman.

And when it counts Don Lope will be there for her.

Benito Pérez Galdós, one of the most sophisticated and delightful of the great European novelists, was a clear-eyed, compassionate, and not-a-little amused observer of the confusions, delusions, misrepresentations, and perversions of the mind and heart. He is the unsurpassed chronicler of the reality show called real life.

Download the Reading Group Guide for TristanaBenito Pérez Galdós, introduction by Jeremy Treglown, a new translation from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781590177655
Pages: 192
Publication Date:


Told in sophisticated yet enveloping prose, Tristana is a treasure that should not be overlooked. Perez Galdos barely breaks a sweat as he weaves a tale of intelligence and emotional richness comparable to the works of Charles Dickens and Gustave Flaubert. And while the pace of the story is expertly controlled, there is an urgency to each sentence, paragraph, page. At its heart, it's about how we should hurry up and become who we are. Or else.
—Juan Vidal, NPR

Tristana is a peach. An utterly delicious novel, even better than the Bunuel film.
—Phillip Lopate

Galdos was the great novelist of Madrid, chronicling bourgeois, urban manners with a clarity and understanding critics have found comparable to that of Dickens, Balzac and Flaubert.
—Raymund A. Paredes, Los Angeles Times

Perez Galdos is one of the treasures of 19th-century Spanish fiction.
—William Ferguson, The New York Times

Perez Galdos is the supreme Spanish novelist of the 19th century. His scores of novels are rightly compared with the work of Balzac and Dickens who were his masters, and even with Tolsoy's.... The secret of the gift of Galdos lies, I think, in his timing, his leisurely precision and above all in his ear for dialogue...
—V.S. Pritchett

[Perez Galdos's] prophetic gift for singling out those issues that were bound to transcend and outlast his own milieu was equaled only by his knack for keeping them controversial and alive in his fiction by refusing to take a clear-cut position on them.
Hispanic Review

Galdos immersed himself in the realities of his day and recorded them accurately.
Symposium Magazine

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