Biography of Marcelino Dávalos (1871-1923)

Poet, Narrator, playwright, journalist and Mexican lawyer, born in the State of Jalisco in 1871 and died in the city of Mexico in 1923. Although he cultivated with inspiration and success almost all literary genres, especially stood out for their fruitful approach to the brief narrative, to become one of the most prominent authors of stories in American literature of the 20th century.


His early orientation towards the Humanities led him to pursue higher studies in law, at the time that began to write his first poems. Once graduated, he devoted himself professionally to the legal profession, but soon he alternated this occupation with their frequent collaborations in the media, finally, in the last years of his life, devoted almost entirely to the journalistic profession. This constant presence in the rotating main and magazines in the country, together with the fame that had achieved as a poet, playwright and storyteller, made him one of the most important figures of the Mexican intelligentsia of the first quarter of the 20th century. However, its cultural prestige and power concluded abruptly after the murder of the constitutional President Francisco Ignacio Madero, whom Marcelino Dávalos had publicly supported from its relevant journalistic Gallery. Victoriano Huerta, responsible for direct murder of Madero, from his newly released presidential person directed a harsh repression against the former supporters of the former President, repression that led directly to jail the Jalisco writer. His release from prison, Marcelino Dávalos took the path of exile and settled in Texas (in the United States of America), where - by paradoxes in the history Latin American - came to die, those same years, the cause of his fall from grace, the former President Victoriano Huerta, who died in strong Bliss (El Paso) Texas prison in 1916. Subsequently, Davalos returned to his native country and settled in the Mexican capital, where killed in 1923, at the age of fifty-two.


Marcelino Dávalos stormed the Mexican literary scene with two dramatic works entitled gift of weddings (1900) and last (1900), whose good reception by the public and critics encouraged the Jalisco writer continue to cultivate the art of Talia. So, three years later presented its third release, Guadalupe (1903), followed by other many plays that earned a literary reputation to the author of Jalisco: so go... (1908), the crime of Marciano (1909), Viva master! (1910), old (1991), performing readings (1913), Veracruz (1915), eagles and Star (1916), tragic gardens (1916) and Indisoluble! (1916). from this latest release, Marcelino Dávalos decided to give to the press his poetic compositions, which, in little over one year, took to the streets, clustered in three different titles: Wrath of bronze (1916), the Bajío and region (1917) and my intimate dramas (1917).

But, without a doubt, the biggest commotion Davalos caused in the American literary scene took place in 1915, following the publication of a splendid collection of short stories published under the title of cannon fodder! (Mexico: national printing press of archaeology, history and Ethnology, 1915). Written between 1902 and 1908, the short stories collected in this volume were - according to a note expressly included in the first edition - "under the auspices of the revolution of 1913", warning that already came to announce the work of a writer firmly committed to social struggle and manifestly opposed to the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, as patent was in the content of their stories.

Set in the great maya extension covering Southeast of Mexico (area Davalos called "Territory"), the stories of the Jalisco writer assumed a tough denunciation against the practices of repression carried out there by the authorities sent by Porfirio Díaz. Indeed, all that vast expanse had become a kind of prison camp who, in the middle of infamous living conditions, rival politicians of Díaz, the peasants were sent anti-porfiristas, the intellectual supporters of the revolution and, in general, all defenders of human rights who showed their open opposition to the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. These degraded beings, forced to survive in the middle of the jungle, beasts, the poverty of the soil, the hostility of the Indians and the virulence with which stated there all sorts of contagious disease (malaria, malaria, black vomit, etc.), constitute the "cannon fodder" that gives title to the work and starred in the stories of Marcelino Dávalos. All of them live in poor conditions subject to the tragic fate of clinging to a last hope of escape from the 'territory' (escape virtually impossible, taking into account the mazes that make up an inextricable map for those not born and has been raised in the jungle of the tropics), but with the conviction of that every day that passes more sink into degradation.

The harsh conditions of life that floats this "cannon fodder" bring other social scourges which, like corruption and prostitution, come to worsen, in her own womb, the sentence that has been applied to them from outside. Thus, the set of these stories of Marcelino Dávalos is a splendid timeless allegation against the evils which, at any time and place, a dictatorial and repressive Government originates. The stylistic techniques, it is obvious to highlight the powerful influence that, in stories of this sort, has left the European naturalistic narrative; from this guideline, Davalos builds some stories seemingly simple and linear (in its chronological progression both in its plot tour), in which the narration of the facts only is interrupted by logical nostalgic interpolations which, in the mouth of those defeated and humiliated, characters trying to retrieve the good moments spent in better times. The pathos of the conditions of life that surround this "cannon fodder", set in idealize some acts last, where his insignificance, can appear only as idyllic in the eyes of those who live surrounded by dangers, misery and moral degradation is thus emphasized.


IGUINIZ, Juan B.: Bibliography of Mexican novelists (Mexico: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1926).

MONTERDE, Francisco: Bibliography of theatre in Mexico (Mexico: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1933).

LEAL, Luis: brief history of the Mexican story (Tlaxcala: Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala/Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 1990).

J. R. Fernández Cano.