José Ortega Munilla y la novela del Siglo XIX
José Ortega Munilla, a prominent journalist, authored some dozen novels, ten short story collections, three travel books and three collections of journalistic articles. His novels, generally viewed as social and naturalistic, provide a wide ranging sample of the 19th Century Spanish novel, representing several literary trends: the socio-sentimental novel of the mid-century (novelas sociales), Galdosian realism, and the Spanish perception of Naturalism. Ortega Munilla's journalistic and public relevance kept him in close contact with the Spanish political and intellectual scene during three decades.
This Dissertation's thesis is that Ortega Munilla's novels, far from being limited to Naturalism or novels of social criticism, actually constitute a unique tool for understanding Spain's 19th Century literary developments, because of their representativity of multiple trends. This variety permits delving into how Spain's people comprehended, modified and matured new ideas imported mainly from Germany, France and England. The Introduction furnishes a summary of the critic's perception of Ortega Munilla's narratives, and by establishing their shortcomings sustains the need of their reevaluation.
The first chapter inquires into the literary and ideological background of Ortega Munilla's socio-sentimental novels, from a historico-cultural perspective Thereafter, the second chapter analyzes the novels that can be identified with Galdosian realism, or literature that is the product of the Revolution of 1868. The third chapter investigates the hypothetical existence of a naturalistic dimension in the epistemological constructs and stylistic traits of some of Ortega Munilla's novels.
The fourth chapter is devoted to the author's narrative dynamics, centering on tone, diction and figures of speech. It includes both a rhetorical analysis and an examination of socially-biased discourse. Relevant aspects from a total of nine novels distributed through all four chapters provide evidence for the textual reference..