Sacrificio y recompensa: novela
Sacrificio y recompensa is the first Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera work ever published. Entered in the literary contest organized by the Ateneo de Lima in 1886, it earned its author the gold medal. The publication in 1887 meant for Mercedes Cabello her recognition by the Lima society as a writer, and the preliminary hints of a style and attitude vis-a-vis the society that would become exacerbated in her other writings, Los amores de Hortensia (1886); Eleodora (1887); specially in Blanca Sol (Novela social) (1888) and Las consecuencias (1890); and El conspirador (1892). There is a character in Sacrificio y recompensa, Elisa, the beautiful putative daughter of Estela's tutor, that can be regarded as the immediate precedent of Blanca Sol: "Elisa was a Limena very Limena, though to honor truth, she had all the defects, without the great virtues of the women born in these fortunate places."and."she was no more than a lively girl, with an active imagination, clear inteligence and a precocious and unbriddled ambition, purely feminine ambition, to flaunt, ascend, get noticed and grow above her humble condition." The tale of the intertwined destinies of Alvaro Gonzalez, Estela Guzman and Catalina Montiel, depicted through the pen of the "novelist [who] must regard and extoll as unique means to bring unto the reader's conscience the most useful and benefitial lesson proposed by the realistic school" may, under the scope of the following works of Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera, be regarded as the first attempt to shed light upon the feminine condition in Lima at those times. "lacking other options they use matrimony to ascend in the social pyramid." Faithful to her ensuing writings on theory such as La novela moderna (1892), the author achieves in this work what she says in the foreword: "stay appart from realism, as understood by today's fashionable school, and search for the real in the beauty of feelings, copying the movements of the soul, not when it becomes vile and degraded, but when it elevates and becomes noble." Sacrificio y recompensa is, thus, the best introduction to Blanca Sol and her author.
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