The Illusions of Doctor Faustino
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
Translated from the Spanish by Robert M. Fedorchek with an introduction by Agnes Moncy
Juan Valera's The Illusions of Doctor Faustino (Las ilusiones del doctor Faustino) came out in 1875, one year after the resounding success of his Pepita Jiménez. One of the author's contemporaries, the critic Manuel de la Revilla, considered it among the most important novels of his time and compared it to Flaubert's L'Education sentimentale on account of the negative influence of Romanticism on the protagonist's character and life.
Don Faustino López de Mendoza, scion of an illustrious but impoverished family of the highest nobility, believes himself destined for great accomplishments in the literary world, sees himself as a poet of the first rank, and immerses himself in grand, if not grandiose, illusions.
While living in a provincial Andalusian town and dreaming of triumphing in Madrid's artistic circles, Faustino embarks on a discovery of love, anguishes over his impecunious state, and engages in endless self-analysis. Love—or, at all events, a monetarily advantageous marriage—seems to go hand in glove with turning his illusions and dreams into triumphs and realities. He falls for Costanza and is rejected by her; he falls for María and she eludes him; he thinks he falls for Rosita then callously scorns her after meeting up again with María, who flees from him after a night of lovemaking. Reduced to financial ruin by a revengeful Rosita, Faustino betakes himself to the Spanish capital. Many years later all three women, as well as his daughter Irene (by María), converge in Madrid, and how he extricates himself from each relationship and meets his sad end constitutes the denouement of this searching novel that depicts the deleterious effects of the Romantic malaise that swept through western Europe in the early part of the nineteenth century.
Robert M. Fedorchek is professor emeritus of Spanish at Fairfield University. He has translated into English more than a dozen books of Spanish literature, among them the Duke of Rivas's Don Álvaro, or the Force of Fate, Juan Valera's Doña Luz and Juanita la Larga. Agnes Moncy is professor of Spanish at Temple University.