This article will analyze the role of colonialism in Benito Pérez Galdós’ novel Doña Perfecta by putting it into dialogue with the work of José Rizal. By examining the two writers side by side, we will see how the logic of colonialism manifested itself in the formal aspects of their work. Galdós will show us how the internal contradictions of metropolitan Spain during the Carlist Wars obeyed the same logic as the governing of the remaining overseas empire. Meanwhile, Rizal’s first novel, Noli me tángere, reveals how those same contradictions were equally complicit in the colonial project. Colonialism, while not explicitly mentioned by Galdós, manifests itself in the formal aspects of the novel, revealing a logic shared by internal as well as colonial contradictions. Noli me tángere, while thematically similar to Doña Perfecta, goes farther than Galdós in problematizing the Spanish liberal position, especially towards colonialism. While the realist novels of Galdós are an important window into 19th century Spain, Rizal’s work pushes those contradictions, thus revealing more fully the cultural logic of late imperial Spain.


the novel, José Rizal, Philippines, Spain, world literature

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)