Madrid 1900: The Capital as Cradle of Literature and Culture

By Michael Ugarte | Go to book overview

6
Madrid's Grand Country Bumpkin: AzorÍn

Nineteen hundred ninety-two marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of José Martínez Ruiz, pen-named Azorín ( 1874-1967). That year, after a pilgrimage to AzorÍn's native town of Monóvar in the province of Alicante, Mario Vargas Llosa paid homage to the man considered the most cohesive force of the Generation of 1898 ( La Nación of Buenos Aires, 26 April 1992, 7:1-2). It might seem strange that Azorín is one of the Peruvian's most cherished writers, yet there are similarities. Both became politically conservative after youthful flirtations with radicalism, and both wrote nostalgically about the cities of their early careers: Azorín's Madrid and Vargas Llosa's Lima.

Writing with a certain ingenuousness, Vargas Llosa tells his readers that he began to enjoy Azorín as a university student in Lima and has continued savoring his works ever since. Azorín was a "miniaturist," he declared, a connoisseur of places, objects, expressions, and gestures that define the essence of an ever-fleeting moment. Azorín's travel literature and the descriptions of real events, great books, things, and people are what excite Vargas Llosa, not the longer novels nor the Spaniard's vacillating and enigmatic politics. Indeed, Vargas Llosa's enthusiasm for the "miniaturist" writing is reminiscent of the protagonist of Azorín's La Voluntad (Will) and the young Martínez Ruiz himself, both of whom allowed themselves to be swept away by books. Yet there is something missing in Vargas Llosa's reading of Azorín in its fascination with smallness. If we consider the ways in which Madrid shaped Azorín's writing, the key to understanding Martínez Ruiz lies in the

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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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