Written in 1870, the year of publication of Gald6s's first novel, this article is his earliest statement of literary priorities. Given that Gald6s's novels prior to Dona Perfecta (1876) were, with the exception of The Shadow, historical, it is interesting that here he comes out in favour of the novel of contemporary life. Despite the hostility shown to French culture, the influence of Balzac, whose work he had first encountered in 1867, probably lies behind his stress on the importance of observation. Gald6s's isolation of Cervantes as a model here is deceptive: what he will take from Cervantes is not observation but his fascination with obsession and ironic self-reflexivity. Gald6s's mention of the vitality of popular fiction is worth noting, since much of his own work draws on popular melodrama. His laments about the lack of a reading public in Spain are echoed by contemporaries, and show a keen awareness of the role of the public, and of modes of production such as serialization, in shaping literary trends; much of his life was taken up with devising schemes for selling his novels. Most noticeable is Gald6s's sensitivity to the changing shape of the Spanish class structure, and his interest in relations between the various classes. His rejection of regionalism for a novel of the urban middle classes and the world of commerce stands as a manifesto for his own future work. Feminist critics will note his awareness that the family is the key to bourgeois ideology, and that the domestic ideal is under threat from its internal contradictions.