The process Iser outlines on pages 19-21 is more complex than what I have indicated, involving transgression at each stage of the fictionalizing act.
The following have served as the basis for my analysis of Zaragoza as a hagiographic work: Aston, Boyer, Delehaye, Deyermond, Gallais, Goodich, and Uitti.
In his 1885 Prologue to the second, illustrated edition of the Episodios, Galdós writes that his intention was: «presentar en forma agradable los principales hechos militares y políticos del periodo más dramático del siglo, con objeto de recrear (y enseñar también, aunque no gran cosa) a los aficionados a esta clase de lecturas» (Shoemaker 56).
Ribbans (43-44, 120, note 36) stresses that prolepsis is a technique consistently employed by Galdós in integrating history and fiction.
Araceli later makes a temporal leap to assure readers that, even though Manuela Sancho is seriously wounded during the fight for Pabostre Street, and is left in a ditch for dead, she does eventually recover since he sees her many years later (732). Galdós obviously anticipated the public's curiosity about this Marian figure, a mythic heroine of the people.
Carr states that Galdós «defined Spanish patriotism, endowing it with an enduring myth» (105).
Dendle (58, note 23) provides an excellent summary of the heroic/anti-heroic split in critical analyses of Zaragoza. He tends to support Navas-Ruiz's view of the novel as a fundamentally anti-heroic work that condemns the annihilation and moral degradation of war (249). Even Gilman (185-91) notes the existence of anti-heroic forces in the novel, characterizing the conflict between Montoria and Candiola as a battle between the epic and anti-epic. Hinterhäuser (164-65) sees the entire first series as anti-heroic, although he finds Galdós unwilling to undermine Spanish patriotism completely. Regarding the first series, Bly accurately states that antithesis and paradox permeate Galdós's view of the War of Independence: «this antithesis of values that emerges between Trafalgar and La batalla de los Arapiles was intended from the outset, for Galdós's interpretation of the War of Independence is founded on an irresoluble ambiguity that the reader is asked to accept» (118). Like Bly, I concur with Gullón's assessment of Trafalgar, which is equally valid for the rest of the series: «¡Singular dialéctica en que alternan lo mitologizante y lo desmitificador!» (307). In my opinion, it is the ambiguous, unresolved tension between heroic and anti-heroic elements (among other tensions and ambiguities) that Galdós wishes to convey to the public, forcing readers to ponder and resolve the matter for themselves in relation to both the past and present moment. The fact that some critics have resolved the dilemma for readers gives an indication of the success of Galdós's strategy of compelling the audience to reach conclusions, pass judgment, and defuse the tensions of the text. It is safe to say that similar tensions and similarly conflictive forces extend to the other series of the Episodios nacionales.
Riffaterre (5-6, 99-111) defines a sememe as a descriptive system of words generated by a single nuclear word that can in essence take over the text, reorganizing its narrative structures in different, sometimes subversive ways. Structurally, the conflict between axiomatic and hidden truth in Zaragoza arises from an inherent tension between the predominant narrative system and one of the major descriptive systems of the text.
It is interesting to note that as the siege progresses and the situation grows more desperate for «zaragozanos», both sides spend increasingly more time underground digging tunnels like moles or laying explosives in a mad race to annihilate each other. Subterranean existence is synonymous with subhuman conditions --dirt, darkness, death, and the devil's abode. Gabriel offers this testimony regarding their dehumanization: «Parecíamos haber dejado de ser hombres para convertirnos en otra especie de seres, insensibles y fríos habitantes de las cavernas, lejos del sol, del aire puro y de la hermosa luz. Sin cesar labrábamos largas galerías, como el gusano que se fabrica la casa en lo oscuro de la tierra y con el molde de su propio cuerpo» (742). It is as if the men, reduced to worms, were making their own shrouds and graves.
Gilman (188) sees the María-Agustín love affair as a poorly handled device whose purpose is to bring the two fathers together, and threatens the structural unity of the novel. Larrea (268) shares this criticism of the potentially disruptive impact of the affair on narrative unity, while acknowledging that at least María may have a symbolic function.