Biography of Azorín (1873-1967)

Azorín. Echevarria. Museo del Prado.

Narrator, essayist, columnist and Spanish dramatist, born in Monovar (Alicante) on June 8, 1873 and died in Madrid in 1967. His full name was José Martínez Ruiz, although he/she is universally known by her literary pseudonym of "Azorín", also signed some of his writings under the spurious name of "Candide" and "Ahrimán". Become since his youth one of the spinal cord which then it would be called - following its own proposal - generation of 98, left a long and fruitful literary and essayistic legacy which, by cleaning and uniqueness of its style, places him among the great masters of the Castilian prose of all time. In his particular way of contemplating the literary object, "Azorín" resulted in some new descriptive arts that seek to capture the detail, the brief depiction of reality described (by means of a syntax that is smooth and refined, based on the brevity of the sentence and the rigorous use of the score), and the discovery of a sober and contained use, but a surprising efficiency. Using these refined features of his style, "Azorín" built a solid reflective and imaginative universe in whose centre are some of the themes that would soon dominate the contemporary Spanish letters: concern for national identity, the emotive contemplation of the landscape of the interior of the Peninsula, the recovery of the glorious past of the nation (with special attention to the outstanding figures of classical Hispanic culture) andabove all, constant meditation on the cyclic flow of time, that in the works of "Azorín" part of the Nietzschean echoes of the "eternal return" to finish condensing into a maxim, ultimately serves to characterize all his printed production: "To live is to see again".


Born in a middle class family, he/she received the intended elementary training in those years any boy of their condition. Especially significant in their intellectual and spiritual maturity process was passing through the school of the parents Escolapios of Yecla (Murcia), which then would be important memories in his novel entitled confessions of a small philosopher (1904). At the end of completed secondary education in this Center, José Martínez Ruiz had already left is carried away by a strong inclination towards the study of the humanities and cultivation of the literary creation, so he/she decided to enroll in the Faculty of law of the University of Valencia, to undertake a few studies of laws which, in the background, never deserved you priority attention, since very early began to worry only by writing literary and journalistic. Thus, his uncertain tenure in various faculties of law allowed him to learn classrooms in some cities of tanta University tradition as Granada, Salamanca and Madrid, to finish settling permanently in the capital of Spain, where soon found firm backers who helped him to earn a living through multiple collaborations published in major media in the country. At the same time, the printing press gave its first volumes of literary criticism, two truly early works which, titled literary criticism in Spain (1893) and Buscapies (1894), they saw the light, respectively, under the pseudonyms of "Candide" - alluding to the universal character of Voltaire- and "Ahrimán".

One of those first mentors of the work of "Azorín" was the also Levantine Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, who, from his position as editor of the newspaper the people, the opportunity to spread his initial articles (signed, at the dawn of his journalistic career, also under the pseudonym of "Ahrimán") gave the young writer from Alicante. Opened as well, towards the middle of the last decade of the 19th century, the brilliant and long journalistic journey of "Azorín", who soon become one of the most read and considered throughout the country, columnists would publish these first journalistic works in such radical means such as Rotary and magazines of clear Republican allegiance, El País, El Progreso, young artNew magazine and youth. By that time, the young writer from Alicante had an existential nihilism gala and some radical political postulates that placed him close to anarchism, ideology that not only defended public and brilliantly from these journalistic collaborations, but also through the translation of some of the texts more extremist of Kropotkin.

Despite the success of these first-time items, the life of José Martínez Ruiz in their first years of residence in Madrid was fraught with difficulties and hardships, sometimes motivated by the hostility that generated his writings in the more conservative sectors of Spanish culture, and sometimes - paradoxically - the ease with which some of his articles passed unnoticed. To compensate this insecurity, "Azorín" followed assiduously cultivating literary criticism and translation, at the time that went up his first works of fiction, starring a character whose name (Antonio Azorín) would soon become the birthday badge to universalize his work.

With the publication, in the year 1900, of the Spanish soul, José Martínez Ruiz opened his literary and spiritual devotion to the landscapes of the interior of the Peninsula and to the idiosyncrasy of the cultural figures - mainly related to the lyrics-which had given this land. These reflections, which attempted to synthesize "the soul castellana" in the most pure and representative of national identity, took a broad approach to regeneracionista as a result of the general depression in which incurred all the layers of the Spanish society after the colonial disaster of 1898, focus regeneracionista that could soon be advised in the works of two other young writers of the time, the Basques Pío Baroja and Ramiro de Maeztu. United both by ideological affinity to the radical "Azorín", formed the so-called "group of three", of which would later be everything a collective generational which in 1913 was named fortune by the own writer from Alicante, from the pages of Madrid daily ABC, as "Generation of 98". You should be targeting, the thread of this last reference to "Azorín" relationship with the press, in its fruitful and long career in journalism, writer of Monóvar passed published his exalted and incendiary articles in radical media cited to its signature in other Rotary of less extremism and wider dissemination, as the impartial and, above all, mentioned ABCwith which he/she was working until the year of his death. He/She also published with some regularity in other magazines such as Alma Española and Spain, as well as in different Latin American mass media, which include the famous rotating of the Havana Diario de la Marina. He/She also served for several years as parliamentary chronicler.

The evolution towards more conservative positions that was experimenting in their ideology became apparent also in his literary and journalistic writings, as well as milestones public and professionals who were marking their long existence. Radical anarchism and existential nihilism which had its roots in Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, "Azorín" happened to lead a quiet and peaceful, calm, precise and methodical writer's life, and gradually entering the conservative Spanish policy. Between 1907 and 1919 was elected Deputy on five different occasions, but all of them from the ranks of the militant conservatism. His political functions in the service of the Administration also led him to exercise some positions, notably that of Undersecretary of public instruction. However, this progressive trend towards the ideological tenets of right did not occur without some ups and downs and ups and downs that betrayed, on some occasions, a concern for public health in the country, and at other times a manifest need to pull up, interested way, to those who showed the power and ensured the security. Thus, in effect, after having publicly supported the Conservative Government Minister Maura's Juan de la Cierva(who defended with ardent enthusiasm in press, and dedicated a pamphlet and a book), and after then proclaiming his affinity towards the dictatorship of general Primo de Rivera, "Azorín" was - very soon - openly partisan of the II Republic; between 1936 and 1939, while Spain was discussed in a bloody fratricidal strife, who both seemed to be concerned with the fate of his nation lived comfortably exiled in Paris; and on his return to Spain, in 1939, nationalist was declared and was, thereafter, a reference point for conservative intellectuals. Installed, again, in Madrid, continued as the journalism through the pages of the ABC Rotary, where, in his last years of life, expressed his fascination of late by a new form of artistic and creative expression: cinema.

While had played a fundamental role in the development of culture and thought Spanish during the first half of the 20th century (recognized, in part, already in 1924, when he/she was elected member of the Royal Spanish Academy), "Azorín" lived his last years of life away from the literary circles, engrossed in their long walks, in their endless readings and their frequent sessions of cinema. Between the supports remained constant throughout his life, it is obliged to recall the figure of his wife, Julia Guinda in this hasty bio-bibliographical sketch.

Those who knew him in his youth and adult fullness, described "Azorín" as a man of high and thick, delicious education but withdrawn and silent, as engaged always in a constant meditation. Tireless traveler in all the corners of Spain (although just became interested in visiting other places from abroad), its serene and reflective character was accentuated during these long stretches, which extracted deep lyrical annotations then brilliantly expressed in many of his writings. Already in his old age, he/she was still her upright composure, although thinness had erased all traces of his shaven youth figure; still showing, also, this elegant courtesy that had characterized him even in its time of greatest exaltation anarchist, but now sweetened even more by the dregs of kindness, moderation and irony that the teachings of life had left along its nearly century-old existence.

Azorín. Palacios, ruins. (An hour of Spain).


Equipped with a vast humanistic education, "Azorín" man broke into the Spanish cultural panorama with a collection of literary studies which, under the title of the literary criticism in Spain (1893), it was revealed not only his extensive knowledge about the Hispanic letters of all time, but also an extraordinary capacity for subtle observation of the most unnoticed literary and biographical details. From this it debut, critical this sharpness and sensitivity would become, in effect, one of the most marked features of his analytical prose, sometimes so lucid and penetrating as the most reputed philologists of his time. As already indicated above, this first installment of the azoriniana print production came signed by the volteriano nickname of "Candide", soon replaced by the of "Ahriman", which served to introduce a new book entitled Buscapies (1894).

Thus, with little more than twenty years of age, José Martínez Ruiz already had two publications that affidavits of card in the convulsive intellectual landscape of the last decade of the 19th century. Immersed, himself, in this ideological agitation of weather that had him live, their readings and translations of the texts of Kropotkin inspired you, in 1895, a new book, the literary anarchist, work that, coupled with the content radical azorinianos articles that in those years were beginning to appear in the rotating more progressive country, helped fix, during this stage of youth exaltation, the image of an angry José Martínez Ruiz and extremist, while it is true that soon channeled towards this yearning for regeneration which became a pressing need for components which would be later called "Generation of 98".

Even one of the "group of three" - which came to realize as such to 1901-when, in the last year of the 19th century, gave to press his first great work, the soul castellana (1600-1800) (1900), a valuable essay text, full of literary values, announced to the readers of the time was not one of the constants that would be staying during his intellectual and artistic career: his devotion to Castile, by its people, by its uniqueness and its classical writers, those who, like Garcilaso de la Vega, the anonymous author of Lazarillo or Miguel de Cervantes, had helped to forge a national identity which, after the crisis of 98, was necessary to rebuild. This endeavour to recover the legacy of classic (and by reviving, sometimes your thinking or your own figures, converted in literary characters or patients subjects of essays dissection) returned to be patent a year later, when José Martínez Ruiz presented its first play, a tragicomedy entitled the power of love (1901).

Study of the reality of Castile through his classical legacy, "Azorín" happened, immediately, to inquire about the reality of the contemporary Spain through the contemplation of its natural and urban landscapes, and analysis from the characters that at that time populated them. Thus, another of the themes of the azoriniana work (and the fundamental issue of the "generation of 98"), it was: the current Spain and Spanish regeneration, the emotion that conveyed his contemplation, and at the same time, sadness that caused your current state of prostration and gloom. Appeared, then, in bookstores the first novel by the writer from Alicante, will (1902), an elaborate text from deep autobiographical reminiscences, which became the initial delivery of a narrative trilogy completed, soon after, with the Antonio Azorín novels and (1903) and confessions of a small philosopher (1904). It is fully representative of the generational spirit three-piece, where despair is evident at every step, unless the desire regeneracionista of some characters to achieve triumph of reliably above the discouragement and the generalized rejection against a poorly applied rationalism that, according to the authors of the 98, had finished with the genuine idiosyncrasies of the Spanish people. They are works, therefore strong tensions and ideological contradictions, in which highlights the bitter struggle between the desire to regenerate the country and, on the other hand, the need to preserve its character. Logically, these tensions result in, at the formal level, long thoughtful spins which, coupled with the abundance and extension of descriptive moments, will be at the expense of narrative action and blur, therefore the condition of fictional characters that the actors should have. They are, in a sense, three failed novels; but, at the same time, three extraordinary exercises thoughtful and creative that attest to the existence of a hybrid genre between the trial and the narration.

The aforementioned autobiographical echoes that make up much of the narrative material of this trilogy definitely encouraged José Martínez Ruiz to link their own identity from his star Antonio Azorín, what, from 1905, the Levantine writer began to be "informally" Azorín. This pseudonym, in fact, appeared on the cover of his book entitled peoples (1905), a new reflection, enlivened by contradictory feelings of pain and tenderness, about the lands of Spain. These meditations and emotions that arise from the contemplation of the landscape and its people were reaffirming him increasingly in their belief that only faith allows to recover the optimism, which in turn contributed to plunge him into a bitter resignation, since he/she confessed devoid of this theological virtue.

It was perhaps this disenchantment that pushed him to try his luck in the field of politics, he/she remained actively linked for more than one decade (1907-1919). During these years, Azorín published a volume focused on such matters, as titled Spanish parliamentarism (1916); but, above all, he/she turned in his essays on subjects and landscapes of Spain, and his brilliant studies about the classical authors of the Hispanic letters. A group of factual texts belong so held works by the critics and readers of his time as Spain (1909), Castilla (1912), a small village: Riofrío de Ávila (1916), the landscape of Spain, seen by the Spaniards (1917) and an hour of Spain (1924); some such significant titles for the elucidation of the Spanish literature of all time as the route of don Quixote (1905), Spanish readings (1912), are assigned to the genre of literary studies, increasingly more profiling in it as a sui generis of the so-called "critical Impressionist" manifestation, classic and modern (1913), the literary values (1914), aside from the classics (1915)El licenciado Vidriera (1916, published later under the title of Tomás Rueda), and Rivas and Larra (1916).

In the novels-reflective of his previous stage (and, very particularly, in the will, which is perhaps, along with Doña Inés, his best-known fiction work), "Azorín" had used a mix of autobiographical elements and dyes regionalists to present a series of characters helpless and devitalized, in paradoxical contrast with a humanized landscape that seemed to have more life than their unsuccessful people. Following the publication, in 1905, of the route of don Quixote (1905), it seems to open up a new stage in the literary production of José Martínez Ruiz, characterized by the reduction to the background of the ideological components, for the benefit of the detailed description in the tiniest of detail seemingly minor but loaded with deep suggestions both in the contemplation of the landscape and the reading of literary texts.

Between one and another stage - without that, apparently, retain any relationship to the transition from the first to the second-, it is forced to remember the story about the controversy that arose following the award of the prize Nobel of literature Madrid dramatist José Echegaray, which provoked angry protest of young members of the "generation of 98", and especially that of the own "Azorín"Pío Baroja and the Sevillian poet Antonio Machado, regarded since then as the lyrical voice of generational group. Against the spirit of renewal of these authors, the work of Echegaray and his contemporaries represented the moral and aesthetic values of the Spain that had succumbed to the disaster of the 98; In addition, according to these new writers, in the specific case of Echegaray were the aggravating circumstances that his plays were characterized by the scarcity of original ideas and the poor quality of its linguistic expression. To all this must be added, to allow a reliable reflection of the level reached this controversy, which, according to information from proven truth, the Swedish Academy would rather rewarding to Ángel Guimeráplaywright, born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but author of a work written in Catalan language (had been, in fact, the main ventilator during the Renaixença catalan Theatre). Pressures of the Spanish political authorities reportedly forced Swedish academics to award the prize to a writer who said in Spanish, so they chose to award the already prestigious prize to Echegaray, and make that Frédéric Mistralshared it with the Provençal poet. Logically, the rumors that revealed by the literary gossip these details relating to the award of the prize Nobel curled even more the souls of the young authors of the "generation of 98", who initially showed only contrary to Echegaray for reasons aesthetic and ideological; and to such an extent raised controversy in the literary scene in Spanish at the beginning of the 20th century, which can be said that this decision of the Swedish Academy was, along with the famous disaster of the 98, one of the binders of greater specific weight in the forging of this group of writers as a generational group.

After the release of other works of less impact than those mentioned above (such as fantasies and dalliances, the two Louis and other trials of Granada) to Castelar, "Azorín" returned to the cultivation of the novel Don Juan (1925) and Doña Inés (1925), two works that just contributed news regarding narrative techniques - or, better said, dubiously narratives - Alicante author used twenty years ago.

A new stage in the literary production of "Azorín" - marked, in the opinion of some of the critics, by a certain exhaustion of aesthetic formulas had been growing with such assiduity - opened at the end of the 1920s, when the writer of Monóvar tried to apply to his works of creation the renovators postulates of the avant-garde, with special attention to formal and thematic innovations of surrealism. They then appeared on the shelves of the libraries which the author categorized as "New works", which basically only obeyed the aesthetic and ideological power (of Europe and, perhaps, universal) that Ortega y Gasset christened "dehumanization of art". Félix Vargas (1928, later published under the title of unreaf Knight), white on blue (1928), Surrealism (of 1929, later published as the book of Levante) and people (1930) are some of these "new works" azorinianas, in which the author tried to explain and assimilate these cutting-edge innovations, in an exercise of application unnecessary work, since the results did not come but to reinforce their innate tendency to blend reality with fiction, reverie, and time spent with the present description.

During the second five years of the Decade of the 1920s, "Azorín" was also delivered with relish to the cultivation of the dramatic genre, he/she contributed a series of works of undoubted interest, although sparsely represented in the Spanish stage of the time. Among its most celebrated theatrical parts, it should be recalled here titled Judit (1926), Old Spain! (1926), angelita (1930) and Cervantes and the haunted house (1931). Other works of interest are the three parts that make up the theatrical trilogy entitled the invisible (the little spider in the mirror, the Reaper and Doctor Death, from 3 to 5), as well as other works such as Brandy, brandy long; Commedia dell'Arte; The cry (written in collaboration with Cadiz playwright Pedro Muñoz Seca); and the guerrillas.

The outbreak of the Civil war put an end to this period of doubts and hesitations in the literary "Azorín" production, in part since you just wrote or published any text during your stay on French soil. On his return to Spain, he/she resumed with decision stylistic formulas which had earned him so much applause among critics and readers; formulas that, without breaking radically with traditional aesthetics, were implicit, avant lettre, that germ innovative for many of the postulates that would then flag the avant-garde (as you can be seen clearly, v. gr., in his novel proposal to cancel the rigid boundaries that traditionally separated the narrative fiction, philosophical reflection and lyrical contemplation). To inaugurate, therefore this return to his old style, "Azorín" resorted to the development and publication of his memoirs, a genre that is not harsh to admit the marinated facts account of reflections that give rise to these events in the narrator's voice. Printed - these memories and impressions of his life - in two volumes which appeared separately among themselves for space of five years (Madrid and Valencia, in 1941; and immemorial memories, 1946), there was place and time between one and the other so the Alicante author returned to make his proverbial literary fecundity gala, manifested in the publication of novels (1941) writerCapriccio (1942), sick (1943), María Fontán (1943), Savior of Olbena (1944) and the island without aurora (1944).

Despite the lack of interest aroused by the appearance of these novels of "Azorín" after the Civil War, it is important to record here a fact that, contemplated from the proper perspective provided by the passing of time, it highlights the paradoxical evolution of the Spanish literature after the fratricidal strife. And is that, in effect, while "Azorín" and some other established authors of the first half of the 20th century are still postulating a certain distancing "dehumanized" - forgive the expression of Ortega "-between reality and fiction (or, when a voluntary confusion of times and genres that has anachronistically less, live the innovative avant-garde effort), the new narrative of this time returns the eyes towards the themes and formal models of the nineteenth-century novel"with singular penchant for the practice of social realism that, as expected, relegates to the category of "residue of the past" any other attempt at narrative expression (and so very clear, the prose of fiction that continues to cultivate "Azorín"). Hence the relative failure of these latest romantic creations of the author from Alicante, who, moreover, continued growing in brilliance and enthusiasm that essay genre that so many compliments had earned him.

He published, in effect, in the mid-1940s the impressions and experiences that most had marked him for its long period of residence in the gala capital (Paris, 1945), and gave to press other fruits of their constant analysis of Spanish culture as seasoned as the redivivos classics. Classic Futures (1945), before Baroja (1946), scene and Hall (1947), before the footlights (1947), film and the time (1953) and clear Spain (1966). Although it is difficult to offer a bio-bibliographical sketch of this nature, the exhaustive list of all titles published by the writer of Monóvar, even to pen flies should be recalled also some works of great interest published when it had already surpassed the seventy years of age, as Spaniards in Paris; Ponder and count; With permission of the cervantistas; With Cervantes; The flag of France; The film and the time; Noiseless steps; Agenda; Spanish exercises; etc.

The main thematic sheds through which runs the abundant flow of the azoriniana work, include noted, first of all, his recurrent approach to the classics, in a laudable attempt to strip them of plumbate gravity with which traditional criticism had coated them to put them at the same height as the reader of the 20th century. Hence the constant concern for placing these remote figures in landscapes near and well known, in a space present in the "Azorín" - and this is one of the greatest achievements of his undoubted mastery - has achieved rough difficulty of preserving intact its temporary past. Some of the universal authors of Spanish letters (without going any further, the own Cervantes) "resurrected" in "Azorín" pen to escape the stronghold of academic scholarship and integrate fully into the cultural heritage of the residents of those small Spanish towns that tirelessly José Martínez Ruiz; but, at the same time, other figures under the Spanish classical culture gained, thanks to the enormous dissemination of their trials, a new dimension among people who share a geographical space or a secular concerns, began to consider them as a substantial part of that collective identity to which they belonged. In this sense, it can be said that "Azorín" was one of the main responsible for the resurrection of the classics in the 20th century, both the elitist groups of culture and popular layers of the social spectrum.

Something managed - in collaboration, now, with almost all the components of his generational group - the definitive integration of landscape in contemporary Spanish literature, but not as a mere theme the descriptive record mode, but as one of the basic act of literary creation constituent parts. Has been made special emphasis, as a trait that defines all the authors of the generation of 98, in the importance attached to the Castilian landscape; but, in the case of "Azorín", can not forget their approaches to the Levantine sites of his childhood, or, in general, any of their lyrical and emotional approach to other parts of the geography Spanish (as, to cite only one example among hundreds of them, to the Cádiz town of Arcos de la Frontera, which seemed to him the most beautiful of Andalusia). From an intimate perspective which, although it shares some aesthetic and ideological postulates with other writers like Machado, Ortega and Unamuno, singles on your particular system of references, preferences, emotions and tenderness, "Azorín" individually selected ingredients of the geographical and human landscape that seem you more relevant, and configures them a literary portrait of a territory (Castile, for example) that, in the eyes of the reader - as it was the case with its treatment of the classics-, appears more close and real, intimate and close-to follow the paradigmatic example - the geographical and political Castilla boring school maps and artificial administrative divisions.

One might recall, with Ortega, that master of azoriniana uptake of "suggestive detail", that "the"primores "of the vulgar" predilection, that delinquent complacency in the seemingly paltry or unfairly strikethrough of banal, as tangible manifestations not only of the acute sensitivity of the writer, but also its firm rejection of the tools used until then by the traditional rhetoric for the mere descriptive reproduction of the landscape. But there is, in addition to all that, a "humanization" of the landscape little dalmia; animation and spiritualization of landscape that connects, as is pointed out above, that revitalization and "resurrection" of the classics, and in the background, from two well defined theme options, is not merely the reflection of the great theme of azoriniana literary production: concern about Spain and the Spanish national identity after the disaster of the 98whether it is through the "humanized" contemplation of the landscape, either by way of retrieval and update of the outstanding figures of classical splendor.

The complex contribution, therefore, some of the authors of the 98, with "Azorín" head, passes through an accurate diagnosis of misery, retardation and gloom in which the current Spain lies prostrate, but from a star-studded approach to understanding and tenderness. Pessimism, rage and pain arising from this analytic contemplation of the Spain of end of the 19th century and beginning of the next century are not sufficient reasons to fail to inquire into genuine national identity, the charm and the purity of many values that the Spanish idiosyncrasy has managed to preserve in the midst of the colonial disastereconomic ruin and the intellectual and artistic backwardness.


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