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Pepita Ximenez   By: (1824-1905)

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PEPITA XIMENEZ

FROM THE SPANISH OF JUAN VALERA

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY THE AUTHOR WRITTEN SPECIALLY FOR THIS EDITION

NEW YORK D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 1886

COPYRIGHT, 1886, BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.

AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.

To the Messrs. Appleton.

GENTLEMEN: It was my intention to write a preface for the purpose of authorizing the edition you are about to publish in English of "Pepita Ximenez"; but, on thinking the matter over, I was deterred by the recollection of an anecdote that I heard in my young days.

A certain gallant, wishing to be presented at the house of a rich man who was about to give a magnificent ball, availed himself for that purpose of the services of a friend, who boasted of his familiarity with the great man, and of the favor he enjoyed with him. They proceeded to the great man's house, and the gallant got his introduction; but the great man said to him who had introduced the other, "And you, who is to introduce you, for I am not acquainted with you?" As I entertain a profound respect and affection for this country, and have not, besides, the assurance that such an occasion would require, it would not do for me to say what the introducer of my story is said to have answered, "I need no one to introduce or to recommend me, for I am just now going away."

I infer from my story, as its evident moral, that I ought to refrain from addressing the public of the United States, to which I am entirely unknown as an author, notwithstanding the fact of my having maintained pleasant and friendly relations with its Government as the representative of my own.

The most judicious and prudent course I can adopt, then, is to limit myself to returning you earnest thanks for asking from me an authorization of which you did not stand in need, either by law or by treaty, for wishing to make known to your countrymen the least insipid of the products of my unfruitful genius, and for your generous purpose of conceding to me author's rights.

This, however, does not preclude the fact that, in thus expressing my thanks to you publicly, I incur a responsibility which I did not assume on any other occasion, either in Germany, Italy, or any other country where my works have been translated; for then, if they failed to please the public, although the fact might pain me, I could still shrug my shoulders, and throw the blame of failure on the translator, or the publisher; but in this case I make myself your accomplice, and share, or rather receive, all the disgrace of failure, if failure there should be.

"Pepita Ximenez" has enjoyed a wide celebrity, not only in Spain, but in every other Spanish speaking country. I am very far from thinking that we Spaniards of the present day are either more easily satisfied, less cultured than, or possessed of an inferior literary taste to, the inhabitants of any other region of the globe; but this does not suffice to dispel my misgivings that my novel may be received with indifference or with censure by a public somewhat prejudiced against Spain by fanciful and injurious preconceptions.

My novel, both in essence and form, is distinctively national and classic. Its merit supposing it to have such consists in the language and the style, and not in the incidents, which are of the most commonplace, or in the plot, which, if it can be said to have any, is of the simplest.

The characters are not wanting, as I think, in individuality, or in such truth to human nature as makes them seem like living beings; but, the action being so slight, this is brought out and made manifest by means of a subtile analysis, and by the language chosen to express the emotions, both which may in the translation be lost. There is, besides, in my novel a certain irony, good humored and frank, and a certain humor, resembling rather the humor of the English than the esprit of the French, which qualities, although happily they do not depend upon puns, or a play upon words, but are in the subject itself, require, in order that they may appear in the translation, that this should be made with extreme care... Continue reading book >>




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