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In Spanish, annotated edition. Born in Andalucia in 1824 Juan Valera y Alcala Galiano was a writer, diplomat, politician, poet and literary critic. Among his eight novels, some unfinished, "Pepita Jimenez" undoubtedly stands out. The interior voice of the author is permanently present, and underlines his prime concerns: the quest for the aesthetic and philosophical ideal. "Pepita Jimenez" was first published in 1874. Based on real facts, in this novel the literary motivations and intention of the author appear with unusual strength: worlds full of philosophical meditation, in which love and religiousness marked characters' struggle between their own consciences and desires. Written as a series of letters, the main character is Luis de Vargas, a priest-to-be full of mistic fire. Don Luis, having been raised after his mother's decease by his uncle the Dean, travels to his longtime widowed father's town to meet a young widow who his father is willing to marry.
She is "Pepita Jimenez", very young, beautiful and sincere, who rapidly catches the youth's eye and makes him plunge into a whirlwind of contradictions: his loyalty towards his father, his vows and his heart desires collide while his uncle, the Dean tries to steer him away from temptation. Though quite predictable in its ending, "Pepita Jimenez" constitutes a delicious reading due to Valera's mastery of Spanish, a nowadays undisputable characteristic that however received more than his due share of criticism in his own times.