I am forty-six years old. I have written seventeen books. I have destroyed three. I have had to begin my literary apprenticeship anew each day. I have received more kindness than I thought I deserved, and I have obtained the relative success which can be hoped for by an author who writes in Spanish and who was born near a bay of the South Atlantic, far from great centers of literature where literary values are determined. I have learned things with pain and forgotten them with ease. I have sacrificed many comforts for literary work. I have always written with suffering. It has grieved me a great deal that I have not yet achieved the degree of skill and broadness that I wished for my production. I do not like to discuss literature with my friends, and I always felt a secret kinship for the Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz, who lived for many years in England. His friends, whom he always treated with a gracious and consummate politeness, found out only after his death that that pleasant and unassuming man was in addition a writer, one of the greatest that Portugal had known. And in his country, when they would look for him in order to praise him, he would say with the great elegance of a well-bred person: "I am only a simple man from Povoa de Varzim."
Perhaps at times I could wish that I had not found in my life the hard and terrible fate of creating. But since it has been thrust upon me, I have accepted it willingly and even with enthusiasm. I have often allowed myself to be guided by the illusion that every authentic poetic idea is a stimulus for the human heart; and that by writing, I, although such an insignificant person, might do something for the benefit of mankind, even though my readers be few and my message so imperfect and insufficient.
I have written a good deal about the men of my country, about their lands, their illusions and their dreams. I have traveled through other countries and other literatures. And in that way my indebtedness was becoming so great that I thought I would not rest until I finished, in the chapters of the vast letter of my books, a sort of fervent epistle or long story, told to all my friends in the world, without raising my voice, by the side of a fire or near the shore of a river, in which would be gathered the histories of certain beings