Commander Mendoza

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Hardcover ISBN: 9788411263634
Typographic rustic ISBN: 9788498163209

SKU: 9788498972054 Category: Tags: , , , ,

El comendador Mendoza, by Juan Valera (1876), places the events in 1794. Don Fabrique López de Mendoza returns to his hometown, Villabermeja, already fifty years old, after having led a life full of adventures and having won honors and fortune in remote places. Don Fabrique fights in Havana against Pocock’s fleet and wins honors in that battle. Thus he returns to his village. He is a man with a liberal temperament that brings him closer to the ideas of the French Encyclopedists and naturalistic philosophy.
Don Fabrique peculiar character, known as the Commander, had illicit relations in his youth with Doña Blanca Roldán, wife of the landowner Don Valentín de Solís. From these illegitimate loves was born a girl named Clara. At the age of marriage, her mother, Doña Blanca, wants to remedy in some way the slip committed when she was just a girl. To this end, it devises two solutions:

  • First, to marry his daughter to Don Casimiro, heir of Don Valentin. This first solution vanishes before Clara’s reluctance to join a man much older than her and is also in love with Don Carlos de Atienza, a law student.
  • The second solution is to embrace monastic life.

The cunning and charisma of Don Fabrique prevent Clare from locking herself in a convent and gets her to join her beloved Carlos.

Despite the chores and care that keep me in Madrid almost continuously, I still go from time to time to Villabermeja and other places in Andalusia, to spend short periods of one to two months.
The last time I was in Villabermeja, The Illusions of Dr. Faustino had already come to light.
Don Juan Fresco initially showed me some anger that I had brought up his life and those of several of his relatives in an entertainment book, but in the end, knowing that I had not done it wrong, he forgave me for the lack of secrecy. What’s more, don Juan applauded the idea of writing novels based on real events, and encouraged me to continue cultivating the genre. This moved us to talk about Commander Mendoza.
“Does the common man,” I said, “still believe that the commander is grieving, during the night, through the attics of the manor house of the Mendozas, with his white mantle of the habit of Santiago?”
“My friend,” replied don Juan, “the common man already reads El Citador and other free-thinking books and newspapers. In unbelief, moreover, the air that is breathed is as if impregnated. There is no shortage of skeptical day laborers; But women, for the most part, continue to believe in the same way. The same skeptical laborers deny by day and surrounded by people, and at night, alone, they are more afraid than before of the supernatural, for the same reason that they have denied it during the day. It turns out, then, that, although we already live in the age of reason and it is supposed that the age of faith has passed, there is no Bermejina woman who ventures to climb the attics of the house of the Mendozas without going down screaming and, affirming sometimes that she has seen the commander, and there is hardly a man who climbs alone to these attics without making a great effort of will to overcome or disguise fear. The commander, apparently, has not yet fulfilled his time in purgatory, and he died at the beginning of this century. Some understand that he is not in purgatory, a place in hell; But it does not seem natural that, if he is in hell, he should be allowed to leave there to come and mortify his countrymen. The most reasonable and plausible thing is that he is in purgatory, and this is what the generality of people believes.
“What is inferred from everything, whether the commander is in hell, whether he is in purgatory, is that his sins must have been enormous.
“Well, look,” replied Don Juan Fresco, “nothing counts the vulgar of strict and clear in relation to the commander. It counts, yes, a thousand confusing hoaxes. In Villabermeja it is known that he hurt the popular imagination more for his way of being and thinking than for his deeds. His known facts, except for some loss of mocedad, qualify him more as a good person than as a bad person.
“Anyway, do you think the commander was a remarkable person?”
“And I very much believe it. I will tell you what I know about him, and you will judge.
Don Juan Fresco then told me what he knew about Commander Mendoza. I am merely putting it in writing now.

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