Fiction With Purpose Romantic Nude Maja - La Maja Desnuda - Woman Triumphant

Nude Maja - La Maja Desnuda - Woman Triumphant

Nude Maja - La Maja Desnuda - Woman Triumphant
Catalog # SKU1846
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Vicente Blasco Ibanez


The Nude Maja
(La Maja Desnuda)

Woman Triumphant

Vicente Blasco Ibañez

The title of this novel in the original, La maja desnuda, "The Nude Maja," is also the name of one of the most famous pictures of the great Spanish painter Francisco Goya.

From the Preface

The word maja has no exact equivalent in English or in any of the modern languages. Literally, it means "bedecked," "showy," "gaudily attired," "flashy," "dazzling," etc., and it was applied at the end of the eighteenth century and at the beginning of the nineteenth to a certain class of gay women of the lower strata of Madrid society notorious for their love of dancing and their fondness for exhibiting themselves conspicuously at bull-fights and all popular celebrations. The great ladies of the aristocracy affected the free ways and imitated the picturesque dress of the maja; Goya made this type the central figure of many of his genre paintings, and the dramatist Ramón de la Cruz based most of his sainetes-farcical pieces in one act-upon the customs and rivalries of these women. The dress invented by the maja, consisting of a short skirt partly covered by a net with berry-shaped tassels, white mantilla and high shell-comb, is considered all over the world as the national costume of Spanish women.

When the novel first appeared in Spain some years ago, a certain part of the Madrid public, unduly evil-minded, thought that it had discovered the identity of the real persons whom I had taken as models to draw my characters. This claim provoked a scandalous sensation and gave my book an unwholesome notoriety. It was thought that the protagonists of La maja desnuda were an illustrious Spanish painter of world-wide fame, who is my friend, and an aristocratic lady very celebrated at the time but now forgotten. I protested against this unwarranted and fantastic interpretation. Although I draw my characters from life, I do so only in a very fragmentary way (like all the great creative novelists whom I admire as masters in the field of fiction), using the materials gathered in my observations to form completely new types which are the direct and legitimate offspring of my own imagination. To use a figure: as a novelist I am a painter, not a photographer. Although I seek my inspiration in reality, I copy it in accordance with my own way of seeing it; I do not reproduce it with the mechanical servility of the photographic camera.

It is possible that my imaginary heroes are vaguely reminiscent of beings who actually exist. Subconsciousness is the novelist's principal instrument, and this subconsciousness frequently mocks us, leading us to mistake for our own creation the things which we have unwittingly observed in Nature. But despite this, it is unfair, as well as risky, for the reader to assign the names of real persons to the characters of fiction, saying, "This is So-and-so."

It would be equally unfair to consider this novel as audacious or of doubtful morality. The artistic world which I describe in La maja desnuda cannot be expected to have the same conception of life as the conventional world. Far from believing it immoral, I consider this one of the most moral novels I have ever written. And it is for this reason that, with a full realization of the standards demanded by the English-reading public, I have not hesitated to authorize the present translation without palliation or amputation, fully convinced that the reader will not find anything in this novel objectionable or offensive to his moral sense. Morality is not to be found in words but in deeds and in the lessons which these deeds teach.


Renovales returned this scorn by insulting her mentally. That Countess of Alberca was a fine one. No wonder people talked about her. Perhaps when she appeared in his studio, always in a hurry and out of breath, she came from a private interview with some one of those young bloods that hung around her, attracted by her still fresh, alluring maturity.

But if Concha spoke to him with her easy freedom, telling him of the sadness she said she felt and allowing herself to confide in him, as if they were united by a long standing friendship, that was enough to make the master change his thoughts immediately. She was a superior woman of ideals, condemned to live in a depressing aristocratic atmosphere. All the gossip about her was a calumny, a lie forged by envious people. She ought to be the companion of a superior man, of an artist.

Renovales knew her history; he was proud of the friendly confidence she had had in him. She was the only daughter of a distinguished gentleman, a solemn jurist, and a violent Conservative, a minister in the most reactionary cabinets of the reign of Isabel II. She had been educated at the same school as Josephina, who in spite of the fact that Concha was four years her senior, retained a vivid recollection of her lively companion. "For mischief and deviltry you can't beat Conchita Salazar." It was thus that Renovales heard her name for the first time. Then when the artist and his wife had moved from Venice to Madrid, he learned that she had changed her name to that of the Countess of Alberca by marrying a man who might have been her father.

He was an old courtier who performed his duties as a grandee of Spain with great conscientiousness, proud of his slavery to the royal family. His ambition was to belong to all the honorable orders of Europe and as soon as he was named to one of them, he had his picture painted, covered with scarfs and crosses, wearing the uniform of one of the traditional military Orders. His wife laughed to see him, so little, bald and solemn, with high boots, a dangling sword, his breast covered with trinkets, a white plumed helmet resting in his lap.

During the life of isolation and privation with which Renovales struggled so courageously, the papers brought to the artist's wretched house the echoes of the triumphs of the "fair Countess of Alberca." Her name appeared in the first line of every account of an aristocratic function. Besides, they called her "enlightened," and talked about her literary culture, her classic education which she owed to her "illustrious father," now dead. And with this public news there reached the artist on the whispering wings of Madrid gossip other tales that represented the Countess of Alberca as consoling herself merrily for the mistake she had made in marrying an old man.

At Court, they had taken her name from the lists, as a result of this reputation. Her husband took part at all the royal functions, for he did not have a chance every day to show off his load of honorary hardware, but she stayed at home, loathing these ceremonious affairs. Renovales had often heard her declare, dressed luxuriously and wearing costly jewels in her ears and on her breast, that she laughed at his set, that she was on the inside, she was an anarchist! And he laughed as he heard her, just as all men laughed at what they called the "ways" of the Alberca woman.

When Renovales won success and, as a famous master, returned to those drawing rooms through which he had passed in his youth, he felt the attraction of the countess who in her character as a "woman of intellect," insisted on gathering celebrated men about her. Josephina did not accompany him in this return to society. She felt ill; contact with the same people in the same places tired her; she lacked the strength to undertake even the trips her doctors urged upon her.

The countess enrolled the painter in her following, appearing offended when he failed to present himself at her house on the afternoons on which she received her friends. What ingratitude to show to such a fervent admirer! How she liked to exhibit him before her friends, as if he were a new jewel! "The painter Renovales, the famous master."

At one of these afternoon receptions, the count spoke to Renovales with the serious air of a man who is crushed beneath his worldly honors.

"Concha wants a portrait done by you, and I like to please her in every way. You can say when to begin. She is afraid to propose it to you and has commissioned me to do it. I know that your work is better than that of other painters. Paint her well, so that she may be pleased."

And noticing that Renovales seemed rather offended at his patronizing familiarity, he added as if he were doing him another favor.

"If you have success with Concha, you may paint my picture afterward. I am only waiting for the Grand Chrysanthemum of Japan. At the Government offices they tell me the titles will come one of these days."

Softcover, 8½" x 7", 250+ pages

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