Novelist, critic, essayist, infusing a brilliant wit into all he writes, Pio Baroja left the selection of his work to the editor. Faced with a formidable task, the editor thought a fair representation of his style and point of view might be from a rather little-known volume of personalia, Youth and Egolatry, translated from the Spanish by Jacob S. Fassett, Jr., and Frances L. Phillips for Knopf.
I AM a Basque, if not on all four sides, at least on three and a half. The remaining half, which is not Basque, is Lombard.
Four of my eight family names are Guipázcoan, two of them are Navarrese, one Alavese, and the other Italian. I take it that family names are indicative of the countries where one's ancestors lived, and I take it also that there is great potency behind them, that the influence of each works upon the individual with a duly proportioned intensity. Assuming this to be the case, the resultant of the ancestral influences operative upon me would indicate that my geographical parallel lies somewhere between the Alps and the Pyrenees. Sometimes I am inclined to think that the Alps and the Pyrenees are all that is European in Europe. Beyond them I seem to see Asia; below them, Africa.
In the riparian Navarrese, as in the Catalans and the Genovese, one already notes the African; in the Gaul of central France, as well as in the Austrian, there is a suggestion of the Chinese.
Clutching the Pyrenees and grafted upon the Alps, I am conscious of being an Arch-European.