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ArribaAbajo(Re)discovering Galdós's Casandra Manuscript

Michael A. Schnepf

Manuscript number 21787 (hereafter referred to as MS 21787), housed in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, is an intriguing document that affords the reader a revealing glimpse of Galdós's writing habits and, in particular, his approach to first drafts. But before we can proceed with our critical analysis we must first decide the identity of the manuscript in question since Galdós published two works entitled Casandra: a novel in 1905 and a play in 1910.

Alan Smith, during his search for Rosalía in the 1980's, discovered a Casandra manuscript in the Biblioteca Nacional which he immediately classified not as that of Galdós's «novela dialogada» but rather of the «drama» published five years later (146). Sebastián de la Nuez, like Smith, argues that the manuscript of this novel is one of several missing from the Galdós collection (12, 286).

If we take a quick glance at only the physical aspect of the manuscript, we can understand why Smith and de la Nuez believed they were dealing with the «drama». MS 21787, like the play, contains only three acts as opposed to five in the novel, and the action, like that of the play, ends immediately after Casandra murders Doña Juana. The novel, however, extends the plot for two more «jornadas» and features jail scenes, judicial bribery, and the eventual wedding of Casandra and Rogelio. But, as is often the case in Galdós's works, appearances frequently prove deceptive.

We know that for the stage version of Casandra Galdós was forced to reduce, alter, or eliminate -in addition to the final two acts- several scenes, many characters, and a few small twists in the plot. However, if we compare MS 21787 and the stage version, we find that no such cuts have been made. In fact, Galdós has not made any of the eliminations mentioned by Andrés Amorós in his meticulous comparison of the novel and the play (78-88) such as Corrita, the tale of the oranges, the Condesa de Navalcarazo, the attack against the Catholic Church, and the demonic element. We can only surmise, therefore, that we are dealing with a manuscript of the novel, since the five-year-old Corrita frolics with her father (f. 2-5, Act III), Rogelio enchants his young audience with his lyrical story of the oranges (f. 18, Act II), the countess comes to Clementina's aid (f. 66, Act II), several key characters criticize the Church (f. 70, Act II), and bizarre devils lurk about in the shadows (f. 97, Act I)90. Moreover, the conspicuous absence in the manuscript of the footnoted stage instructions found in Act I, scene viii, of the play -«(1) Los trozos entre asteriscos pueden suprimirse en la representación»- offers further confirmation that we are working with the novel not the play (37)91.

But the question of the abbreviated ending in the manuscript may still provoke some confusion in regard to the identity of the manuscript. Although the final two chapters of the original version of the novel are missing, MS 21787 does contain several pages of outline that foreshadow what Galdós had in store for his readers after the sudden demise   —122→   of Doña Juana. The outline consists of two sections. The first bears the title «Acto IV» and contains six pages labelled 4.a, 4.b, 4.c, 44 4.e and 4.f. For the most part, Galdós does not stray too far from what eventually occurs in the published novel. That is to say, Casandra goes to prison, the court accepts the original will, Rosaura befriends Casandra, Cebrián and his cohorts begin to extort money from the inheritors, and friends and relatives manoeuvre to obtain a reduced sentence for Casandra. It is important to note, however, that the scope of the outline goes beyond what eventually occurs in the novel, and, therefore, a few differences deserve mention. On page 4.d, Casandra refuses to see Rogelio when he comes to the jail. Page 4.c explains that Martina will marry Apolo, and 4.e and 4.f feature a somewhat more specific account of the «enchufe» involved in the reduction of Casandra's sentence. The second section of the outline is one page in length, bears the number 4.9, and is entitled «Situación jurídica de Cas». Here, Galdós maps out the political influence of Alfonso and Cebrián, the various projects carried out with money inherited from Doña Juana, and the «jesuitismo» of Cebrián and his followers. Though «jornadas» four and five do not actually appear in the manuscript, the outlines partially disprove their absence since they clearly map out a narrative plan that goes well beyond the stabbing death of Juana Samaniego92.

The evidence found in MS 21787, therefore, allows us to correct a case of mistaken identity and to conclude with certainty that the Biblioteca Nacional has in its possession the somewhat incomplete manuscript of Galdós's 1905 novel, Casandra, and not that of the play, as previously believed. But this clarification represents only a portion of the information that we can garner from this manuscript.

The manuscript, for instance, discloses a great deal about how Galdós approached the first draft of a work. Did he, as several critics have argued, tend to begin with a «barebones» version and then gradually shape and build the plot and characters as he re-wrote and modified the original?93 Or were his first drafts more of a literary indulgence in which he gave free reign to his inventive capabilities and his penchant for social and political satire? The present study definitely points to the latter possibility, inasmuch as the manuscript reveals a novelist eager to expand his cast of characters, willing to attack decadent institutions, and anxious to explore different plot directions.

The most obvious example of this brand of experimentation in the manuscript centres on Juana Samaniego's choice of mates for Rogelio. In the published version, she almost innocuously selects one of the nondescript Nebrija daughters for her husband's illegitimate son. Galdós's initial approach to this situation was quite different: he sensed a unique opportunity to enhance the (melo)dramatic intensity, as well as the ironic content of the work, by obliging Doña Juana to insist on a union between Rogelio and one of Alfonso and Clementina's two daughters. As might be expected, this move provokes an immediate chain reaction. Casandra, of course, is bitterly opposed; Insúa complains loudly and warns his friends against accepting the proposition (f. 55, Act II); the two daughters despair (f. 11, Act II); and, most important of all, a serious rift develops between Alfonso and Clementina because the latter, at least momentarily, considers the sacrifice of one daughter a small price to pay for financial security (f. 9, Act II)94. Thus, by carrying out this one manoeuvre, Galdós underscores Doña Juana's maliciousness and her penchant for manipulation in such a dramatic fashion that he comes very close to   —123→   (re)creating a character whose capacity for evil rivals that of Doña Perfecta. Perhaps because he wanted to avoid just that, another Perfecta Rey, and perhaps because he realized that he was creating too much tension, Galdós eventually opted for a considerably less volatile situation.

Still another example of Galdós's flexible approach to the first daft of Casandra is to be found in a section referred to as «Escena de los pobres», in which the novelist takes aim at a vulnerable aristocracy. After her initial interview with Doña Juana in the manuscript version, Casandra encounters a bizarre group of deformed beggars outside the Samaniego home. An old «manca» tells the following tale:

Yo soy también pariente de Doña Juana pero lejana ¿sabe? Muy lejana. Mi madre era doncella de la casa en tiempos muy atrás de la casa de los padres de Doña Juana, que tuvieron ferretería en la calle de Toledo... Le digo que mi madre tuvo que ver con d. Blas de Samaniego. Ello fue que se hizo embarazada. Luego se la lleva mi padre a las islas de Filipinas y allí nací yo. Por eso digo que mi parentesco es muy lejano.

(f. 47, Act I)                

Another beggar claims that his mother was a «doncella» in the Samaniego home and that she «tuvo que ver con Don Hilario» (f. 50, Act I). A bitter, blind woman openly proclaims that Doña Juana distributes «limosnas» only because she (Juana) fears the «Supremo» and the army of beggars at her door. In a final insult, she shouts that Doña Juana «es más mala que la sarna» (f. 48, Act 1). Shortly thereafter, a «viejo» sarcastically insinuates that the Samaniego money is tainted, since Hilario seems to have come by it through a questionable contract with the «hospicio» (f. 48, Act I).

Aristocratic decadence is not the only social ill targeted by Galdós in MS 21787. His diatribe against the Catholic Church proves even more intense than that of the published version. To begin with, the manuscript features several priests who do not appear in the subsequent version. There are, in particular, several difficult-to-read allusions to a priest, alternately referred to as Pons, Pito, Pi, Pez, and Pinto95. This cleric attends Juan's «plática» and his presence provokes a harsh reaction from Rogelio, who openly admits his fear of priests, labels them an «enigma», and concludes: «Mal agüero estos pájaros» (f. 78, Act I). Later, when Clementina discovers that Doña Juana has cut her family out of the will, she suddenly remembers her father and his hatred of the Church:

Ahora me acuerdo de mi padre que era un hombre valiente militar y de principios. Odiaba el fanatismo y la negrura santurrona. Y su programa revolucionario no podía ser más sencillo... desestanco de todo lo estancado... desestanco de las creencias religiosas, o llamase libertad de cultos. Pero no le hacían caso. Se murió diciendo «conciencia libre».

(f. 70, Act II)                

That she too holds priests and the Church in low esteem becomes abundantly clear in the manuscript. She makes no effort to disguise her contempt: «Pues cuando venga un santo me haréis el favor de tirarle por la escalera. Que le vea rodando» (f. 71, Act II). She eventually becomes even more bitter: «Que bien estaría ese santo en un muladar. Me reiría si le viera colgado como un pelele para diversión de los chicos» (f. 71, Act II). If we recall that in the published text there is no mention of any father and Clementina carefully   —124→   cultivates a religious façade, these bits of background information give us an idea of the many directions that Galdós's thoughts could follow during a first draft.

Similarly, the novelist gave free reign in the initial stages of composition to matters of a less serious nature. For instance, in the manuscript Galdós presents Marina's love affair with Apolo, the «carpintero fantasioso», as more fact than innuendo. Though all the characters seem to have previous knowledge of the liaison, Zenón cannot resist the temptation to add a personal comment: «Está [Apolo] al servicio particular de Martina, la criada de confianza. Dicen que juegan a los casamientos en la umbría del parque» (f. 51, Act III). When Doña Juana begins her move to the convent, Martina hires Apolo to help with the work and then treats him to wine «jerez» and pleasant conversation: «Va [Marina] a la cocina donde se traba con Apolo en largo, sabroso palique, del cual no puede desprenderse» (f. 55, Act III). Later, Martina urgently suggests to her mistress that the move will go better if the workers take another short break. This time she shares wine with her friend in the «cocheras» with the same result: «Burla, burlando, se le van los minutos y los cuartos de hora en una éxtasis de sabrosa charla con José Apolo» (f. 56, Act III). Moreover, according to one of Galdós's chapter outlines, Martina inherits a considerable sum from Doña Juana and will eventually marry the carpenter-cum-lover (f. 4.c)96.

Even more humorous is the company formed by Zenón de Guillarte, the quintessential businessman, for the redemption of souls trapped in purgatory: «Es una sociedad de seguros de redención de las almas del Purgatorio garantizando la salida de dichas almas» (f. 52, Act II). There is, however, a modest cost for this service, since, as in any business, there are certain «arrangements» to be made. Simply stated, Zenón, called the «contratista del Purgatorio», has to pay off several parties (f. 58, Act II). He will dole out a small fortune in kickbacks, but the lion's share will go to the Pope, who will receive no less than ten million pesetas (f. 52, Act II).

There are many other, less significant, differences between the manuscript and the published version that further underscore Galdós's tendency to wander or explore during the first draft. Several new characters appear in the manuscript. One is Merejo, a «campesino seco y de edad madura» who works for Alfonso at El Pardal (f. 1, Act II). Merejo must explain to his boss that the lack of water is destroying their crops. The wheat, he says, has deteriorated to such an extent that «hasta los pájaros están de pésame» (f. 1, Act II). The dialogue between Alfonso and Merejo thus draws attention to a pair of vital nineteenth-century problems: (1) the growing city-country dichotomy and (2) the aridity of the Castilian soil. Another manuscript character not seen in the published version is Adrián Vives, identified as Rosaura's brother and judge «de intachable probidad» (f. 9, Act III). Ismael turns to Adrián when he (Ismael) finds himself trapped in an untenable business deal that does not figure in the printed text either. Ismael, counting on the money he was to inherit from Doña Juana, establishes a «sociedad comanditaria» for the production of a certain kind of filter. When his benefactress changes her will, he suddenly faces fines and possible incarceration, due to his inability to meet the terms of the contract. He begs Vives to bend the law: «Ven en mi ayuda; discurre una triquiñuela, una sutil artimaña» (f. 10, Act III). The judge refuses but speaks with a certain Lucas Ortiz and does what he can: «No tiene [Ortiz] inconveniente en quedarse con las máquinas que   —125→   te vendió y no puedes pagarle siempre que están sin montar» (f. 9, Act III). Later, however, Vives relents somewhat and promises to speak with the influential Cebrián, who has a matter pending in the judge's court (f. 16, Act III).

Galdós obviously enjoyed the artistic freedom that a first draft afforded him. From this study of the Casandra manuscript, one might even conclude that the novelist experienced a certain mischievous glee as he progressed through the initial version. But by the time he was obliged to produce a publishable or definitive version, Galdós always had his creative urges and his taste for social satire and criticism well under control. And nowhere is the «poda» between the first draft and the published text more consistently and more evidently realized than in the Casandra manuscript. Not only does the novelist trim the cast of characters, he streamlines and simplifies the plot -in several ways, but, most specifically, by eliminating the proposed marriage between Rogelio and one of Clementina's daughters- and, though he does not completely retreat from his attack against the Church in the published version, he does opt for a markedly less aggressive battle plan.

This study of MS 21787 suggests a number of conclusions about the Galdós manuscripts and about the novelist's practices of composition. Undoubtedly, the most important point is the identification of the manuscript as that of the novel, and not of the play. From a critical and even biographical standpoint, we must now acknowledge that Galdós frequently revealed certain tendencies, biases, and socio-political stances in his first drafts that differ significantly in tone and content from what appears in his published works. Detailed comparisons of more than thirty manuscripts to their published versions confirm the fact that Galdós consistently shied away from potentially explosive issues and opinions as he progressed from the former to the latter. On the one hand, this practice may be the result of self-censorship, prompted by the social, political, and editorial realities of nineteenth-century Spain. On the other hand, the material found in MS 21787 and many others may hold the key to a more complete understanding of the complex beliefs and convictions of Pérez Galdós. In either case, we can not afford to overlook the vital information contained in the numerous manuscripts (some virtually untouched) available to us in both the Casa-Museo Pérez Galdós and the Biblioteca Nacional.

University of Alabama

Works consulted

  • Alvar, Manuel. Estudios y ensayos de literatura contemporánea. Madrid: Gredos, 1971.
  • Amorós, Andrés. «Tres Casandras: de Galdós a Galdós y a Francisco Nieva». Actas del segundo congreso internacional de estudios galdosianos. 2 vols. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Excmo. Cabildo Insular, 1980. 2: 69-102.
  • Boo, Matilde L. El manuscrito de «La de San Quintín» de Benito Pérez Galdós. Anales Galdosianos. Anejo. 1986.
  • De la Nuez, Sebastián. Biblioteca y archivo de la Casa-Museo Pérez Galdós. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Excmo. Cabildo Insular, 1990.
  • Entenza de Solare, Beatriz. «Manuscritos galdosianos». Actas del tercer congreso internacional de estudios galdosianos. 2 vols. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Excmo. Cabildo Insular, 1989. 1: 149-61.
  • Martínez Umpiérrez, Elsa María. «Epistolario: el problema de la transformación de la novela en drama a través de algunas cartas de don Benito». Actas del primer congreso internacional de estudios galdosianos. Las   —127→   Palmas de Gran Canaria: Excmo. Cabildo Insular, 1977. 106-17.
  • Pérez Galdós, Benito. Casandra: drama en cuatro actos. Madrid: Hernando, 1926.
  • ——. Casandra. Madrid: Perlado, Páez y Compañía, 1906.
  • ——. Casandra. MS 21787. Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid.
  • Schnepf, Michael. «A Guide to the Manuscripts of Galdós's Second Series of Episodios nacionales». Anales Galdosianos 26 (1991): 35-42.
  • ——. «From Galdós's La desheredada Manuscript: A Note on the Creation of Isidora Rufete». Romance Notes 31 (1991): 245-50.
  • ——. «From the Manuscripts of Galdós's Second Series of Episodios nacionales: On the Creation of Juan Bragas de Pipaón». Crítica Hispánica 13 (1991): 21-29.
  • ——. Galdós's El doctor Centeno Manuscript: Pedro Polo and Other Curiosities». Romance Quarterly 44 (1994): 36-44.
  • ——. «Galdós's La desheredada Manuscript: José Relimpio y Sastre». Hispanófila 100 (1990): 7-14.
  • ——. «Galdós's Tristana Manuscript: Don Lope Garrido». Romance Notes 31 (1990): 11-17.
  • ——. «The Manuscript of Galdós's Tormento». Anales Galdosianos 26 (1991): 43-49.
  • ——. «The Naturalistic Content of the La desheredada Manuscript». Anales Galdosianos 24 (1989): 53-59.
  • ——. «The Significance of the 'petardos' in Galdós's La desheredada». Romance Notes 30 (1989): 107-04.
  • Smith, Alan. «Catálogo de los manuscritos de Benito Pérez Galdós en la Biblioteca Nacional de España». Anales Galdosianos 20.2 (1985): 143-56.
  • Weber, Robert J. The Miau Manuscript of Benito Pérez Galdós. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1964.
  • Whiston, James. The Early Stages of Composition of Galdós's Lo prohibido. London: Tamesis, 1983.

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