In general, literary historians have not hesitated to describe Gald6s's contemporary novels as accurately observed pictures of nineteenthcentury Madrid. 1 M. Romera-Navarro remarks: 'they are the novels in which observation outweighs every other quality'. 2 J. Garcia L6pez uses similar language: 'the atmosphere of the capital is reflected with

admirable precision. Their author here proves that he is a keen observer of physical reality'. 3 However, a careful examination of the use of physical space and distance in La de Bringas, supposedly one of the most representative novels of this realist style, will show, I hope, that Gald6s goes beyond a simple objective photograph of the material world. He is constantly breaking down what one would expect to be the normal spatial relationships between various points to produce a picture of disorder, confusion, and repulsion. He even disrupts the normal literary 'distance' between the novel and its reader. The conscious manipulation will appear inevitable, if he is to expose without ambiguity the true moral fibre of his characters.