Juan Martín El Empecinado

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This is the first English translation of Galdós’s Juan Martin El Empecinado (1874), in the first series of his Episodios nacionales. This is the only novel in the first series dedicated to a guerilla fighter rather than to analyses of the battles. In this novel, Galdós recreates the popular figure of Juan Martín “El Empecinado” from faithful accounts based on his personal life and deeds as a guerrillero. He skillfully depicts opposing political and ideological forces, revealing to his readers a variety of elements that were weakening the nation from within. The novel presents a vast context of historical, literary, and Biblical references which lead the reader to a deeper understanding of the force that makes people unite to preserve the integrity and cultural values of their nation. The heroic figure of Juan Martín highlights his successful military leadership, his campaigns against the French during the War of Independence and his unique characteristics as an exemplary leader. It presents a detailed view of the world of the Spanish guerrillas in the 19th century. It is a valuable source for historical information. This translation is must for scholars, researchers, and the general public interested in Spanish history, literature, and culture.


“Galdós’ novel is clearly an important work of nineteenth-century Spanish literature, but it is also a wonderful historical document. Galdós’ many historical novels provide fascinating insights into Spanish politics, society and culture. . . . Juan Martín is especially rich in its evocation of the Napoleonic struggle in Spain. As an historian of nineteenth-century Europe and a teacher, I am constantly looking for just such works, which give students a lively, entertaining read while informing them about a given culture and specific historical events. . . Cellini’s translation of Juan Martín would make accessible an important work of literature and history. . . . Like Tolstoy, he is revisiting the Napoleonic generation which he clearly sees as crucial to the birth of national consciousness. I think this gives Juan Martín an added significance, given the continued relevance of nationalist politics and ethnic conflict in Europe today.” – George Robb

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