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21 October 2020
This Prado exhibition is absolutely fascinating! Today's 'episode' could well illustrate the book we publish tomorrow, The New Magdalen by Wilkie Collins, although in the case of this novel's heroine it's the last sentences that appliy to her not the first. 'The National Exhibition of 1895 saw the triumph of a new sentimentalist sub-genre inspired by serialised fiction, that of prodigal daughters returning home to implore their fathers’ forgiveness after being seduced by a man. These fallen young women, usually from humble backgrounds, were redeemed through a theatrically tearful repentance. They were fleeing from a tragic destiny of abandonment or even death, the consequence of their rebelliousness in daring to question the role assigned to them by the patriarchal society. These images, like the texts which inspired them, were in fact educational warnings for the most wayward young women. In the following years, some works shown at the official exhibitions started to make open denunciations of the prostitution networks and the process of degradation to which their victims were subjected. An unflinching gaze at this problem of public order, which the authorities tried to hide but not eradicate, generally met with unanimous rejection from both the critics and the public. The only images that were tolerated were those which held a moralising message beneath their asperity, and these were the only ones acquired by the State, which thus legitimised their paternalist discourse.' Again, this is so well put. This is The Human Beast 1897 by Antonio Fillol Granell (1870 - 1930). What a great title. And look at the father!
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