Biography of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (1867-1928)

Spanish Narrator, born in Valencia on January 29, 1867 and died in Menton (on the French Riviera) on January 28, 1928. Author of a vast narrative production that left the key aesthetic and ideological coordinates of naturalism to end looking for a plain and straightforward style that came easily to all kinds of readers, is considered to be one of the most prominent voices of Hispanic literature of the late 19th century and the beginning of the next century. Committed, in addition, with the politics of his time (in which deployed an intense work from the postulated Republicans), developed also a fruitful activity of cultural promotion and ideological disclosure among the working classes, who arrived directly through the publishers Sempere and Prometheus, who for several years were subject to his direction. It was, in its time, the most read Spanish writer within and outside national borders (with singular success of sales in Europe and America), and arrived to see how some of his masterpieces - as the splendid novel blood and sand (1908) - were the subject of successful film versions made by the Hollywood industry.


Born in the bosom of a belonging to the Levantine middle class family - his father was an Aragonese dealer who ran a thriving business in the city of the Turia-, received a strict religious formation that soon began to despise, influenced by the abundant readings that devoured under the dictates of their innate intellectual curiosity in his childhood. Since his early youth he/she accused a clear inclination towards the study of the humanities and the cultivation of literary creation, so determined to not follow the professional footsteps of his father, with only twelve years of age fought in the writing of his first novel, which ended when he/she had served fourteen. A few years later, he/she enrolled in the University classroom of his hometown to follow the career of laws, and it was then when started to feel awaken a political conscience, openly skewed toward the Republican side, led to his expulsion from the University when he/she had completed only the first two courses of that career.

Driven by his adventurous spirit, his Maverick character and his revolutionary spirit, young Vicente Blasco Ibáñez left his native Valencia to settle in Madrid, with the hope of finding better channels of propagation for its Republican intrigues in the capital of the Kingdom and, above all, with the desire to earn a living with the culture of writing. Undergo great deprivation, by that time, on-site met the seedier environments of the madrilenian Bohemian hungry, until it got an interesting job as secretario-amanuense of the famous Sevillian writer Manuel Fernández and González (1821-1888), then consecrated as the most read Spanish author (and, no doubt, also the most prolific). From the peak of his fame and wealth, Fernández and González - to whom is attributed the authorship of some two hundred novels, as well as numerous theatre pieces - was delivered to a bizarre and whimsical life that led him to spend much of his vast fortune--was the writer better paid in the mid-19th century - partying and love affairs, so itat the time of the arrival in Madrid's Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, he/she was forced to continue to regularly produce these endless folletinescas novels which had so successfully between all kinds of readers. The rhythm of writing marked by demands of its publishers and the reading voracity of their public had forced the author of the seven children of Ecija (1863) hire a Secretary and a stenographer to they auxiliasen him in his rapid creative process; It was as well as the young and impulsive Blasco Ibáñez was introduced fully in forums and Madrid literary Cenacle, copyist of such novels as serials that dictated you the already elder Fernández and González, who taught the future Levantine writer all the secrets of the craft of Narrator. Disciple out-done, Vicente Blasco came to conclude on their own some of the arguments outlined by his master, who then it would remember with affection and admiration, giving him the title of "the Spanish novel resuscitator" quickly. And, although the subsequent narrative work of the Valencian writer wouldn't accuse no influence theme or style of these novels of Manuel Fernández González (riddled with bandits and smugglers, figures of the historical past and, according to what cycle characters in urban areas undergoing multiple sentimental conflicts), the truth is that human and professional relationship between the old devoted writer and the young apprentice of novelist helped Blasco Ibáñez not only learn, in the best possible Chair, the most effective techniques of storytelling, but also develop an enviable ease and fluently expressive, ultimately would have to approach the volume of your print production to the astonishing fecundity embodied in the detailed bibliography of his master.

The death of González and Fernández introduced again in the vital vicissitudes of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez anxiety and insecurity, two ballasts that would accompany him during many phases of his bizarre career (worthy, in itself, of being told as if it were a novel). Their active participation in a dream Republican intrigue led to his hasty flight to Paris, where he/she spent eighteen months delivered to the reading of the great authors of the naturalism of the French, as Balzac (1799-1850) and Zola (1840-1902). He/She also took this forced stay in France to establish contacts with the Spanish Republicans exiled in the capital - as the political and military soriano Manuel Ruiz Zorrilla (1833-1895) - and with some of the major figures of the French left - like the politician and journalist Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) - gala, and, as a result of these relationships, began to write an interesting story of the revolution Spanish of the nineteenth centurywhich gave the press shortly after in Barcelona, once he/she had put an end to his Parisian exile thanks to granted amnesty to those who were persecuted for political reasons. During his stay in the French capital, he/she survived by writing various serials serials and ended his popular novel the black Spider (1898), inspired by the wandering Jew, Eugène Sue (1804-1857).

After a fleeting stint in Barcelona to the return from the exile, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez settled again in his native Valencia, where he/she started in journalism and soon gained a deserved recognition which allowed him to establish the Rotary people (1891), a newspaper of Republican ideology from whose pages launched virulent attacks against the Spanish authorities (especially against those responsible for foreign policy)which earned him the admiration of the revolutionary classes and many conservative politicians inquina. Newly married, at the time, a woman that was bound by a distant family relationship (she was the daughter of don Rafael Blasco and Moreno, magistrate of Castellón and romantic poet, follower of the wake of Lamartine (1790-1869), French spent the final decade of the 19th century numerous political episodes that were their bones at presidio on thirty occasions, which increased the support of those who celebrated it as the author - they became famous, by that time, his novels set in lands Levantine, such as rice and trap (1894) and La barraca (1898) - and, above all, of those who admired him for the firmness and roundness of his political ideas. Linked to the Barcelona Republican Pi i Margall (1824-1901), deployed an intense work activist Republican ideology that, in 1895, as a result of revolts in Cuba, forced him to flee again abruptly from Spain, this time aboard a sailboat which led him to Italy, where continued developing his brilliant literary career and sending the people his writings.

On his return to Spain, he/she was accused of having taken part in a revolt that had not taken any part, imputation which resulted in a new sentence of deprivation of liberty that was you commuted to the penalty of banishment. Installed again in Madrid, he/she continued writing feverishly and expanded their literary prestige to the capital of the country, which abandoned in 1898 to return to the city of the Turia. A few days later, in the wake of the colonial disaster in Cuba, worsened its abuse against the Spanish and, accused of UN-patriotic Government's foreign policy, was detained for a year in a Valencia prison, from which he/she converted into a hero of local Republicanism.

Thanks to the successful dissemination of his journalistic articles and the fame that had already acquired as a novelist, he/she starred in a brilliant political campaign that placed him in the Spanish Parliament as a Deputy for Valencia, representation that kept during six sessions, combining their political work with its unceasing literary activity to their release from prison. But, driven by unconscious and adventurous spirit that ruled all his acts, in 1909 he/she left the safety of his seat and the benefits that reported you his literary and journalistic writings to move to South America and found, in the Argentine Patagonia, two agricultural colonies (baptized by him as "Cervantes" and "New Valencia") who, inspired by a revolutionary economic project of your inventionthey failed miserably due to lack of financial base. Defeated by bitterness and totally ruined, returned to Spain with the intention to devote itself fully to literary creation and, after getting some money thanks to collaborations were suing him the main media, again left his native country to establish their residence in Paris, where surprised by the outbreak of the first world war.

Decidedly aligned on the side of the allies, Blasco Ibáñez undertook in the gala press a passionate campaign to the Spanish Government also joined in front of the Western powers contrary to the expansionist ambitions of Germany; and at the same time began to write a monumental history of the European war, at the time that produced two great novels, focused on the international conflagration - the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (1916) and Mare Nostrum (1918)-, they became him European writer most read and translated from the moment (the first one won, in 1924, second place in the valuations of the readers of the prestigious New York publication International Journal of the book English-speaking). It soon became, thanks to the international success of his work, with an immense fortune that allowed him to return to Spain and settle in his native country as one of the most rich and honored the world's writers (became cobra thousand dollars for each of the items sent to the United States of America); but the establishment of the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera (1870-1930) caused angry protest and, little later, new abandonment of the country which had seen him being born, in where he/she was always uncomfortable because of his progressive ideas.

He returned to settle in his beloved France, in where he/she spent the last years of his life surrounded by luxury and opulence that had acquired with the only help of his pen, and constantly besieged by journalists, editors and film producers who were trying to do with their articles, copyright and permission to bring his novels to the big screen. Pampered by the fame and fortune, not lost, however, none of that rebellious and passionate encouragement that had led him to take part, throughout his life, dozens of duels and controversies; and even cause some diplomatic sparring between Madrid and Paris, because of public statements - very disseminated by all those means of communication that they paid him tribute - SWAT violent and maliciously against the Spanish monarchy (January 15, 1925, the Government of Primo de Rivera ordered the embargo of the assets of the writer, two days after having managed his extradition). Idolized by the writers of Hollywood - who found in his works a constant source of inspiration when looking for realistic arguments and passionate crudity - and by editors and agents worldwide - literary works were translated into more than ten languages, including Japanese and Russian-, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez killed a day before the age of sixty-one years of agewhile I rested from the Parisian hustle and bustle in the beautiful maritime town of Menton.

Tireless traveler through Europe and America, toured much of the countries of the new continent pronouncing conferences and receiving tribute of admiration and respect, both for the undeniable quality of his prose fiction of his defense firm and sustained Republican democracy. In the course of the first world war, the French Government awarded its taking sides in favor of the allies with the delivery of the order of the Legion of honour of the French Republic; and, among other many honors and international awards, in 1920 was invested doctor honoris causa by the George Washington University.


In his role as Narrator, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez had completed a first precocisima novel at the age of fifteen, written in Valencian and entitled language the torre de la Boatella (1882), by which the Levantine author, in the same way that deliveries of its new soon reneged folletinescas, most induced by the need for inspiration. Thus, it can be said that, aside from these youth stories of little depth and no consistency, Blasco Ibáñez broke into the national literary scene at the beginning of the last decade of the 19th century, when collected in the volume entitled Valencian stories (1893) some of the stories that had been published within the pages of the rotating people. These stories short, full of fantastic and colorful details that describe perfectly the homeland of the author and the idiosyncrasy of its settlers, opened the first of the large five paragraphs in that the author wanted to divide broadly his work, in an attempt to organize thematic criteria from a production so vast and varied that - in your view - does not support a proposal of classification more precise and detailed.

Novels of Levantine environment

After the publication of these Valencian stories (1893) - announcing the intention of Blasco Ibáñez reflect characteristic of their patria chica-characters, and environments to whites, from the privileged frontispiece of his title, the author of Valencia gave printing tartana (1894), and the novel rice - in this section of the narrations of Levantine environment - considered the piece that best describes the city where he/she was born. A year later, was the sea of Levante the environmental protagonist of his next poetic delivery, Flor de mayo (1895), which later joined the novels of the Valencian Orchard, La barraca (1898), and his most precious fruit, among orange trees (1900); regional archaeology, Sonnica the courtesan (1901) novel, and the novel of the Albufera de Valencia, reeds and mud (1902). Within this cluster should also situate the extensive narrative entitled the condemned (1900), full of delicious sensual nuances that reveal the beauty of his native land and the ways of being of its people. The critics was unanimous to appreciate regionalist enthusiasm (which explodes, on many occasions, in the delinquent and detailed description of the most ancient traditions of the Levantine area) and naturalistic tearing of the then young Valencian writer placed all these works of the first stage between the cream of the whole of his literary production.

Ideological novels

After have reflected perfectly the love and devotion that he/she felt toward his hometown, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez engaged in the drafting of a series of ideological content novelones that left well patents his revolutionary theses and their angry anti-clericalism - present already, this last, in the ten volumes of the youth soap opera spider black (1898)a real antijesuita pamphlet-. Narratives of social and spiritual rebelliousness are these works that make up the second thematic block of his work, in which, under the titles of Cathedral (1903), the intruder (1904), the cellar (1905) and the Horde (1905), appears the Blasco Ibáñez activist fighter and political social, insisting on the implementation of the Republican socialism and in the redemption of the proletarian class. The accumulation of socio-political thesis in detriment to the creative imagination puts these four novels among the most mediocre of his work.

Psychological novels

In a third phase of his literary production, the Valencian writer appealed to psychological introspection - that he/she was not absent in its earlier stages - to account for a number of human conflicts that found its best formulation in the world-famous blood and sand (1908), as well as in other novels as notable as the nude maja (1906), Los muertos mandan (1908) and Luna Benamor (1909). Identical depth in the drawing of the psychological profile of the characters can be seen in other included in this thematic block subsequent narrations, where Blasco Ibáñez reflected the failures of their bizarre experiences in Latin America, such as the Argonauts (1914) - which is expanded on the universal phenomenon of the emigration - and the Earth of all (1922) - where he/she spent reviewing the adventure of colonization.

Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, blood and sand.

The war novels

The outbreak in 1914, of the international armed conflict prompted two immediate reactions in an author from the likes of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, the first linked to their status as public man and the second inserts of packed in its dimension of man of letters. Thus, while on the one hand he/she turned in the defense of the Allied front and collected, since the press gala, the active participation of Spain in the race, on the other hand headed the contents of his narrative toward war issues, to stop giving to print a novel that, in a very short time, established him as one of the peaks of the Western literature of the time. It is the splendid extensive narrative entitled the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (1916), which soon added other titles also focused on the war, as Mare Nostrum (1918) and the enemies of women (1919). These three works not only helped to expand the literary reputation of the Valencian writer by every corner of America and Europe, but it also became the products from your imagination that reported you higher profits. Part of these huge gains came from the excellent adaptation to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse film, shot in 1921 by Rex Ingram (1892-1950), Irish filmmaker and starring a young American actor of Italian origin who was called to become, from its great performance in the film version of the text of Blasco Ibáñez, the great latin lover of his generation: Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926). Forty years later, the validity of the magnificent story of the Levantine writer gave way to another successful adaptation of the four horsemen... on the big screen, now filmed by the great American director Vincente Minnelli (1910-1986), who was one of the best deals of the moment (composed by Charles Boyer, Lee j. Cobb, Glenn Ford, Angela Lansbury and, among others(, Paul Lukas).

This happy encounter between the narrative of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez and the Hollywood industry ushered in, in 1922, the film adaptation of blood and sand, as shot by the American director Fred Niblo (1874-1948), confirmed the aforementioned Valentino stardom and opened a trail of remakes that include highlight the version of 1941 - signed by Rouben Mamoulian (1898-1987) and starring John Carradine, Rita Hayworth, Tyrone Power and Anthony Quinn- and the 1989 - shot by Javier Elorrieta, with screenplay by Rafael Azcona and Ricardo Franco, and interpretation of Christopher Rydell, Sharon Stone, and Ana Torrent and José María Caffarel.

Historical novels

Include, finally, the fifth thematic block of the literary production of Blasco Ibáñez, composed of a series of stories in which the Valencian author intended to rebuild and claim some of the episodes and characters most representative of the history of Spain. Aside from this first foray into the present historical narrative in Sonnica the courtesan (1901) - included, by its archaeological dig in the remote past of the occupied territory by Sagunto, between setting levantina-novels, stand out in this fifth section of his work other excellent stories as the Pope of the Sea (1925) - focused on the outstanding figure of the antipope Benedict XIIIbetter known as "Papa Luna"-, at the foot of the page of the Sea (1927), in search of the Great Khan (1928) and the Knight of the Virgin (1929), Venus (1926).

Other works

Many other works which may not be included in the five major thematic blocks studied in previous paragraphs have their place in the varied and extensive bibliography of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. It's adventure novels such as the titled paradise of women (1922), the Queen Calafia (1923) and the Phantom of the wings of gold (1930); short novels such as the loan of the deceased (1921), the novels of the French Riviera (1927), novels of love and death (1928) and the farewell to Schubert (1929), and books of travel in the country of art (1896), East (1907), La Argentina and its greatness (1910) and the return to the world of a novelist (1925). CABE, also, remember - even contravening this the express will of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, which fiercely repudiated them in adulthood - the folletinescas narrations that he/she wrote in his early years, including the aforementioned ten volumes of the black Spider (1898); the four volumes of the Republic live!; Romeu, the guerrilla; Count Garci-Fernández, and the legends and traditions compiled under the title of fantasies. Other works not mentioned so far are the first three volumes of the nine that make up the history of the great European war, as well as the controversial articles collected in the volume entitled Mexican militarism (1921), which was badly received in the Aztec country.


The keys to extraordinary popular success that it enjoyed the novels of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez lie in their voluntary choice of a realistic lexicon, a few simple arguments, some universal themes (love, hatred, struggle for life, etc.) and, above all, narrative manifest simple procedures. The sum of all these ingredients as a result throws Verismo texts intended for a not-too-demanding reader; texts which can be enjoyable or harrowing, kind or dramatic, but always limited to a surface exposure of the reality described, lacking the depth with which a Balzac cala in the misery of the human condition, or the depth which exhibits a Zola to delve into the more sordid aspects of contemporary societies.

When Blasco Ibáñez begins to publish its naturalistic narrations, naturalism is an aesthetic and ideological proposal franca declining, so perhaps the author Levantine, aware of this gap in their immediate models, stays with items more visible or surface of naturalism (misery, corruption, loss of moral values) to handle them as mere decorative ingredientswithout entering greater speculative depths which, on the one hand, they could away from his books to a broad mass of readers, and, on the other hand, neither were within reach of an author who, even though he/she excelled by their powerful inventive ability and his excellent command of plain language, lacked the intellectual depth and cultural knowledge needed to rehearse some proposals for greater philosophical rigour.

Moreover, he/she knew how to appeal with brilliance and effectiveness to the everyday concerns of the vast legion of readers that, insensitive to such a lack of draft intellectual, was left to drag out their demagogic and pamphleteering proclamations about socialism, the strength of countries allied against Germany, the vices and defects secular Church, etc. Among his greatest accomplishments stylistic, is obliged to point out its undeniable capacity - endowed with a certain lyrical tone - for the description of landscapes and the atmosphere of his works in the Levantine land which so loved, always surrounded in their texts by abundant Mediterranean notes that leave well patent the excellences of the pictorial style (the blue of the sea, the solar luminosity(, the contrasts of light and shadow, etc.), enriched by other many environmental features that appeal of contino to the senses (such as, for example, the aroma given off by the orange). And, among their limitations and shortcomings, it is also necessary to repair its incompetence to achieve the necessary balance between description and narration, of who is left drag by an excessive rhetorical verbosity; in its clumsiness in the construction of dialogue, almost always neat and artificial in his work, and this accumulation of demagogic and populacheras concessions, although they assured him an instant success among an international range of readers, hinted his inability to investigate with clarity in the existential void of the human being which, ultimately, seemed always to haunt him.


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