Juanita la Larga
Translated from the Spanish by Robert M. Fedorchek with an introduction by Noël Valis
Juanita la Larga (1896), the third of Juan Valera's eponymous novels with a female protagonist, unfolds in a small town in nineteenth-century Spain and tells the story of a young girl's romance with a wealthy widower many years her senior. In addition to their substantial difference in years and class, the lovers must contend with the indignation of his imperious married daughter, the public rebuke of a churchman, and the strictures of society.
As the novel opens, readers are introduced to Juanita in the exuberance of youth. We witness her maturation into a young woman and along the way we watch as she learns to deal with humiliation, anger, jealousy, and a pride that makes for bittersweet moments. Juanita reveals a cunning personality that is complemented by a dogged determination and an iron will; once she realizes what she wants in life neither the fear of reprisal nor the prospect of ostracism deters her. Other well-conceived, well-delineated characters are Juana, Juanita's mother and village do-it-all; Doña Inés, the haughty, sanctimonious daughter of the widower Don Paco who falls head over heels in love with Juanita and wants to marry her; Don Álvaro Roldán, Doña Inés's dissolute husband; and Don Policarpo, the town druggist.
This charming work appears here for the first time in English and is elegantly translated by Robert M. Fedorchek. Juanita la Larga gives Valera an opportunity to describe, in loving detail, life in an Andalusian hamlet: its social levels, political intrigues, religious observances, rustic amenities, and hearty fare. But above all it offers a vibrant picture of Juanita, a worthy sister to other Valera heroines like Pepita of Pepita Jiménez (1874) and Luz of Doña Luz (1879).
Robert M. Fedorchek is professor emeritus of Spanish at Fairfield University. He has translated into English more than a dozen books of Spanish literature, among them the Duke of Rivas's Don Álvaro, or the Force of Fate and Juan Valera's Doña Luz. Noël Valis, professor of Spanish at Yale University, is the author of several books on Spanish authors.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
"A passionate story set in Villalegre, Valera's spirited, witty social portrait (akin to Sense and Sensibility) depicts the conflicts and amusements of people—ambitious, aristocratic, wise, comic, or pious—in the richness of country life. Robert Fedorchek's sparkling prose, with helpful notes, keeps it all flowing. The beleaguered heroine is not crushed by patriarchy. Virtue trumps vice in this delicious tale told fluently in English."—Agnes Moncy, Temple University
"A sound and well-researched translation of an important work of Spanish fiction, Fedorchek's edition meticulously follows the original text while maintaining a language that is both natural and fresh for the modern reader. This translation successfully preserves both the beauty and the simplicity characteristic of Valera's style and expression."—Susan McKenna, University of Delaware
"From the dedicatory note to the closing stanza, Fedorchek's translation of Juanita la Larga captures the light, sinuous line of the original Spanish. In a masterly series of sleights of hand—transpositions, pauses, and ellipses—Fedorchek informs his translation with the wit, delicacy, and playfulness of Valera's novel." Harriet S. Turner, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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