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I trust that, before relating the important events of which I havebeen an eye-witness, I may be allowed to say a few words about myearly life and to explain the singular accidents and circumstanceswhich resulted in my being present at our great navalcatastrophe...Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920) was a Spanish realist novelist. Someauthorities consider him second only to Cervantes in stature as aSpanish novelist. He was the leading literary figure in 19th centurySpain.He next developed the outline of a major project, the EpisodiosNacionales: a series of historical novels outlining the major eventsin Spanish history from the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 to his owntimes. The ostensible aim of this project was to regenerate Spainthrough the awakening of a new sense of national identity. The firstepisode was called Trafalgar and appeared in 1873. Successive episodes appeared in fits and starts until the forty-sixth and final novel,Cánovas, appeared in 1912.