Madrid 1900: The Capital as Cradle of Literature and Culture

By Michael Ugarte | Go to book overview

4
Things of the City: Ramón Gómez de la Serna

In his lengthy autobiography titled Automoribundia (Self-deathology), Ramón Gómez de la Serna ( 1888-1963) relates an incident that caused him great consternation. His father, who had worked assiduously as a high-ranking bureaucrat in the conservative Canalejas government ( 1910-13), was relieved of his post in 1913 after an insidious political maneuver on the part of his enemies. In the autobiography, Ramón writes of his father's despair. Don Javier's only relief from the humiliation of losing his job was his last walk home from the parliament building on Carrera de San Jerónimo along the Paseo del Prado Boulevard, a wide ostentatious street adorned by majestic trees and the Jardines de Sabatini (the botanical gardens). The "self-deathology" tells us that Ramón and his brother accompanied their father on this final stroll, and that they stopped along the way to have a beer, the elixir "que apaga la amargura humana, como vinagre fresco para los profanos crucificados" (1:284) (that drowns human bitterness, like fresh vinegar for the profane victims of crucifixion).

The young writer's thoughts about his father at this difficult moment are emblematic of Ramón Gómez de la Serna's entire life and work. Were it not for his father's irremediable anguish, he writes, he would have advised him to take solace in street life: " 'Sálvate en la frivolidad de la vida callejera,' le hubiese aconsejado, pero mi padre llevaba aún el 'he dicho' clavado en el corazón" (1:284) ("Redeem yourself in the frivolity of street life," I would have told him, but my father still bore the stamp of "I have spoken" on his heart). The Bohemian frivolity of life in the street was both Ramón's trademark and his aspiration.

-105-

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Madrid 1900: The Capital as Cradle of Literature and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Reading Madrid's History 25
  • 2 - Urban Sociology and Narrative: Pío Baroja 51
  • 3 - Feminist Madrid: Carmen De Burgos 79
  • 4 - Things of the City: Ramón Gómez De La Serna 105
  • 5 - Madrid, Capital of Bohemia: Ramoón María Del Valle-Inclán 131
  • 6 - Madrid's Grand Country Bumpkin: Azorín 157
  • Conclusion: Madrid City Limits 185
  • Select Bibliography 189
  • Index 199
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