The Spanish Detective Fiction (Part One)

Los Crímenes de la Calle Morgue Edgar Allan PoeIt is often regarded that El clavo (1853; The Nail and other Tales of Mystery and Crime) by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón y Ariza (1833 – 1891) is Spain’s first mystery story. It was written 12 years after Edgar Allan Poe published The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841). During the rest of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th, mystery stories didn’t had many followers, with some exceptions, like La incógnita (1889; The Unknown) by Benito Pérez Galdós (1843 – 1920), and La gota de sangre (1911; A Drop of Blood) by Emilia Pardo-Bazán Condesa de Pardo Bazán (1852 – 1921) who penned, in addition, other short stories related to the genre. Shortly I look forward to read and comment some of these stories and, hopefully, read the stories of other authors like  Joaquin Belda and A. Fernández Arias, whose works may be quite difficult to find. Although this is a long term project.

If you know about other authors and/or works in the genre written by Spanish authors before 1920, I’m particularly interested on the subject and I’ll appreciate any details in the comments.

Forgotten Books: The Drop of Blood (Original title: La gota de sangre) by Emilia Pardo Bazán

Some scholars have noted that Alarcon’s novel, The Nail, does not have the characteristics of a classic detective story. The solution in The Nail is found by chance, fate or providence, not deductive analysis. Despite some elements of intrigue and mystery The Nail is, after all, a romantic book. See my previous post HERE. For this reason, The Drop of Blood (La gota de sangre, 1911) is widely considered the first Spanish detective novel.     

Emilia Pardo Bazán (1852 – 1921)…. wrote several stories and short novels in the detective fiction mode, particularly La cana (1911; The White Hair), La gota de sangre (1911; The Drop of Blood) and its still unpublished continuation Selva (c. 1914)….. Although the investigators are invariably male and amateurs, Pardo Bazán’s innovation in the genre include a central preoccupation with the subordinate situation of women, reflecting the author’s reformist intention and her nonconforming views of the official moral and social rules. (Taken from: The Feminist Encyclopedia of Spanish Literature: A-M, edited by Janet Perez and Maureen Ihrie, Greenwood Press, 2002). 

In The Drop of Blood, Ignacio Selva, to prove his innocence, becomes an amateur sleuth to solve the murder of a businessman named Francisco Grijalva.

Emilia Pardo Bazán y el relato policial por Concepción Bados Ciria (in Spanish).

%d bloggers like this: