The Narrative Premise of the Dual Ending to Galdós's La Fontana de Oro - PDF

Butler University Digital Butler University Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS College of Liberal Arts & Sciences 1987 The Narrative Premise of the Dual Ending to Galdós's La Fontana de

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Butler University Digital Butler University Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS College of Liberal Arts & Sciences 1987 The Narrative Premise of the Dual Ending to Galdós's La Fontana de Oro Linda M. Willem Butler University, Follow this and additional works at: Part of the Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature Commons Recommended Citation Willem, L. The Narrative Premise of the Dual Ending to Galdós's La Fontana de Oro, Romance Notes 28.1 (1987): This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Digital Butler University. It has been accepted for inclusion in Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS by an authorized administrator of Digital Butler University. For more information, please contact THE NARRATIVE PREMISE OF THE DUAL ENDING TO GALDOS'S LA FONTANA DE ORO LINDA M. WILLEM THE readers of the 1871 edition of Gald6s's La Fontana de Oro are greeted with not only two alternative conclusions to the novel, but also with an invitation by the narrator to freely choose a preferred ending after considering them both. The situation is further complicated by the narrative pretense that the tragic version is the true account of the facts while the happy one is an artistic rendering. By presenting his reading public with this dilemma over a century ago, Gald6s raised questions about the nature of narrative conventions which are similar to those issues being addressed by narratologists today. The dual ending appears only in the 1871 edition (reprinted in 1872 and 1883). 1 The violent denouement is absent in all other editions, which merely close with an expanded version of the happy ending. It is midway through the novel's last chapter that this major difference in the text occurs. Immediately after a statement dismissing Clara's contention that she had seen Coletilla 's face in the window ( lndudablemente habia sido efecto del miedo ), the narrator of the double-ended variant directly addresses the reader to explain the situation and inform us of his original intention. He says 1 Carefully documented previous studies locate the various coptes of this edition as follows: the British Museum and the Bodleian Library (Madrid: Jose Noguera, 1871 ); the British Museum (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1872); the Bib1ioteca Nacional de Madrid and the University of Pittsburgh (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1883). See Joaquin Gimeno Casalduero, Los dos desenlaces de La Fontana de Oro: origen y significado, Anales Galdosianos supp. (1976): 55-69; and Florian Smieja, An Alternative Ending of La Fontana de Oro, Modern Language Rev1ew 61 (1966): 52 ROMA CE OTE that rather than slavi hly adhering to historical truth, he first.. habia escrito Ia conclusion y desenlace del modo mas natural y 16gico creyendo que era buen fin de jomada para aquellos amantes. el ca arse despues de tantas amarguras y vivir en paz, y mucha felicidad y mucho hijo. E to, en su entender. se avenia mejor que nada a las condiciones artisticas que qu 1so dar a su libra:' 2 However hi collaborator and primary informant for the novel, Bozmediano, trongly objected to this poetic license and demanded a complete disclosure of the true fact a they happened. To pacify his friend. the narrator agreed to present the truth exactly as told to him. Before doing o, ho\\ever, he once again affirms the uperiority of his O\\fn rendition Himaginado a n1i antojo, y conforme a lo que parecia ma logico y art I tico.,. ince the pri n1e virtue of Bozmediano les!\ artistic version is its truthfulness. the narrator con\ e) the information to the reader in a faithful tran ;, .:nptton of Bozmediano, word~ recalling the actual events. The facb are the e: while (lara and Lazaro are attempting to leave Madnd later that night, their carriage is overtaken and attacked by a group of men, one of whom- po stbl) ColetiHa- kill Lazaro, and a a rec;ult the brokenhearted lara d1e~ four day later. After Bozmediano 1 given hts opportunity to put the record straight, the narrator once agatn speak to the reader and ~~. that ' no renunciamos por completo el desenla\.:e prin1itivan1ente imaginado. Puede el lector aceptar el que mejor cuadr~ a ~u gu to ~ sentimientos, ya dando crcdno al tragtco ftn re' elado por Bozmedtano, ya suponiendo que lo'i dos amante de\cansaron al fin de sus tenaces desventuras en una larga \tda de amory tranqutl!dad... Although the two dtsttnct clo ures to La Fonrana tie Orv ha\ ~ been the subject of orne e amtnauon. thu far no tud~ ha d~.:llt with the narrative importance of the aforen1entioned con1n1ent~ ~) the narrator to the reader. Rather. prcviou' ~ritical dtort hu' c b~cn directed toward determintng the order of publt(jtton for the carl) editions 1n an attempt to J\certain the nun1hcr of ume that L~,1IJo. altered the novel, ftnal outcome. \'a nou po~~tbk n1otn c~ b~hith.i 2 In his article mteja reproduces the ending of th~ I~~ I \ o~ucm t~iti~' 1 n 1 t~ entirety, correcting pnntcr's errors but retaining the.h:\.-~ntu.ltl(h\ m'\.1!ui trit l. l)u, t\ the relative inaccc,~tbtlil} of th~ original text, QUl'tc .m: t.lkl'll dtn.'('t h from Sm t:j,\ -~ readily a'uilablc r~pnnt cc Snucja GALD6S'S LA FONTANA DE ORO 53 these changes have been proposed based on these findings. According to Florian Smieja and Joaquin Gimeno Casalduero, the optimistic ending first appeared in the 1870 edition and was reinstated in the 1885 edition. Thus, these scholars endeavor to account for Galdos's adoption and subsequent abandonment of the pessimistic ending during the brief interim period. 3 Recently, Walter T. Pattison has argued that the 1870 edition is a falsification, thereby transforming the 1871 edition into the first to be published. Consequently, he focuses on what it was that prompted Galdos to reject his original sad ending in favor of a joyful resolution to the lovers' adventure. 4 These studies raise important questions concerning the early developmental stages of this novel and provide insights into Galdos's creative process. Nevertheless, they tend to treat the 1871 edition as if it contained a single tragic ending at variance with the single happy ending found elsewhere. However, the tragic account is but one of two alternate finales found in the 1871 edition. Furthermore, these studies give only scant attention to an aspect of this dual ending which deserves further scrutiny- the narrative pretext of having a factual account rival a fictional one for the reader's approval. Herein lies the innovation of the alternative conclusion format which asks the reader to consider the very conventions underlying narration and how the demands of narrative fiction differ from those of narrated history. Jonathan Culler has done much to clarify the issues being raised daily in the burgeoning field of narratology. In his essay, Story and Discourse in the Analysis of Narrative, he makes several points which are germane to our discussion of the double ending to La 3 Smieja (430-3) contends that Gald6s briefly experimented with the violent repercussions implied in the novel, only to return to his original ending when he realized its artistic superionty. Gimeno Casalduero (62-5) states that the ending where the lovers escape reflects the hopeful outlook insp1red m Gald6s m 1870 by General Pnm, whereas the ending in which the lovers die victims of Coletilla's revenge is a product of Gald6s's despair over the assassination of this heroic symbol of liberty; and, moreover, that the original ending was restored in the 1885 version when Gald6s entered into a new phase of his art in which tragic endings serve another purpose. 4 Pattison suggests that the opinions of Alcala Galiano, a close friend of Gald6s, may have influenced the author's decision to create a new conclusion to the novel. See Walter T. Pattison, La Fontana de Oro. Its Early History, Ana/es Ga/dos1anos 15 (1 980): 5-9. 54 RO 1A'\CE -101F'; Fontana de Oro. F1rst Culler e tablishes the dtsttnction bet\\.een what he calls the story, a sequence of acttons or events, concetved as independent of their manifestation in dtscourse and what he caji~ the discourse, ''the discursn e pre sen tat ion or narration of e'yents.. Then he distinguishes between narratl\es and non-narratn es by stating that narratt ves report 5equences of events.,. Finally and most importantly for our purposes, he demonstrates that narratologtcal analy is has traditionally established a pnont} of events (i.e. the story) to the discourse. but that thts hterarchy ts often subverted by the narratives themselves which present the events ' not as g1vens but as the products of d1scurstve forces or requirements Thts situation precludes the possibility of a syn thesis and forces the analyst to sh1ft back and forth between two standpoints: either the discourse ts seen as a representation of events which must be thought of as Independent of that particular representation, or else the so-called events are thought of as the postulates or products of a dtscourse. That ts, story and discourse must alternate tn domtnance when under cnt1cal consideration. Th1s IS prectsely the stance 'Whtch the narrattve premise of La Fontana de Oro.\ double ending obliges the reader to adopt. The narrator makes the confesston that he had substantially altered the true facts tn order to design a denouement whtch IS more logical and artistic. In so dotng he sets up a dichotomy between a fictional narrative, which has certain dtscursive requirements that must be fulfilled, and a factual narrative whtch, ultimately, needs to obey no other rule than to be a truthful relaying of the events that occurred. Of course, both versions actually are fictions, but Galdos projects one into the realm of history by presenttng 1t under the guise of fact. The reader must choose between the two endings, but tn order to do so, he must jockey between the two positions noted by Culler. While considering the unhappy fate of the lovers, the reader is obliged to give prominence to the story level- the events independent of their presentation. Since these events are offered up for our consideration as facts, aesthetic and artistic concerns do not enter s Jonathan CuiJer, story and o~~~..:ourse in the Analysis of 'arrative, The Pursuu of Signs (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 198 I): GALD6S'S LA FONT 1 V 1 DE ORO 55 into this discussion. It is sufficient that the events are plausible enough to preclude any doubt on the part of the reader that Bozmediano is telling the truth. Indeed, given Coletilla's egoism, ideological obsession, and political connections, it is believable that he could engineer and carry out just such a plot aga1nst his enemy. Therefore, the main criteria for the acceptance of th1s outcomeverisimilitude- has been fulfilled. The end1ng both sounds true and is true. Bozmediano has satisfactorily executed his role as historian. However, the narrator also enjoins the reader to reconsider his own fabricated ending. This involves a shift of focus by the reader who must now allow the discourse to dominate. The narrator repeatedly refers to the internal artistry and logic of his ending, thereby alluding to the discursive conventions and requirements inherent in fictional narrative. The thematic coherence of the novel is at issue here, and it requires Lazaro to learn from the past mistakes caused by his naivete and overzealous idealism, and to emerge a somewhat disillusioned but wiser individual who finds peace and happiness in his life with Clara. This fictitious ending is in accord with the demands of the narrative fiction into which the narrator has suddenly metamorphosed his text. Clara's stoic suffering throughout and Lazaro's final brave act of restitution earned them this imaginary reward. When the discourse takes prominence over the story, the important question is one of inner logic rather than external veracity. The true ending, which makes Lazaro a martyr and Clara the topic of metaphysical musings, is inconsistent with the fate they deserve. The narrator vindicates himself by repeatedly asserting that he has satisfied the demands of his discourse, and therefore implies that his fiction is superior to Bozmediano's truth since it is not only verisimilar, but also artistic. The reader is the final judge. However, since each ending satisfies its particular narrative requirements, the decision is largely one of preference. Whatever the choice, it is secondary in importance to the act of making the selection- a process which involves the consideration of two distinct narrative forms and the conventions associated with each of them. It is important to note that Gald6s did not simply publish two different single endings in the various editions of La Fontana de Oro, but rather, that at one point he created a double conclusion in which the entire narrative premise discussed above is established. Had the 56 narrator not presented one version as fact and one as fiction, then both would simply have been examined in light of di cursive demand. That is, one would have been deemed better than the other solely on the grounds of being a more artistically appropriate mean of working out the thematic, structural, and stylistic concerns of the novel. Instead what Galdos offer the reader is an opportunity to view his narrative from alternating perspectives. Through his fictional narrator and his fictional collaborator- who have been elevated to the status of actual people with the capacity to choose between life and art- Galdos makes explicit the 1mplicit differences between narrated history and narrative fict1on. Thus. in the hort-lived double ending to this very early novel, Galdo~ po e the que ~ tion with which he shall continue to grapple throughout hi literary career. B UTLER UNIVERSITY \VoRKS Cn ED Culler, Jonathan... Story and Discourse in the Anal)sis of 'arrative.'' The Pursuit of Stgns. Ithaca: Cornell UP, Gimcno Casalduero, Joaquin. Los dos dcsenlacc!\ de La.Fontana de Oro: Origen ) significado. A nates Galdosiunos supp. (1978): Smieja, Florian... n Alternative Ending of La Fontana de Oro. \fodern Lan!!!ta!!e Re~ iew 61 ( 1966):
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