Agusti, Ignacio 1913–1974
Agusti, Ignacio 1913–1974
PERSONAL: Born 1913, in Llisá de Vall, Barcelona, Spain; died 1974. Education: University of Barcelona, L.L.B, 1934.
CAREER: Vanguardia Zurich and Bern, Switzerland, correspondent; associated with L'Instant and La Veu de Cataluña (newspapers and magazines); Destino. (weekly newspaper), founder and director.
Benaventurats els lladres, L.E.D.A. (Barcelona, Spain), 1935.
Un siglo de Cataluña, Ediciones Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 1940.
Los surcos (also see below), Ediciones de la Gacela (Madrid, Spain), 1942, second edition, Nauta (Barcelona, Spain), 1969.
Los surcos; El cubilete del diablo, Ediciones de la Gacela (Madrid, Spain), 1942, reprinted, Espasa-Calpe (Madrid, Spain), 1974.
Cataluña entre tradición y revolución, Ateneo (Madrid, Spain), 1952, second edition, 1956.
El autor enjuicia su obra, Editora Nacional (Madrid, Spain), 1966.
Obras selectas, prologue by José María Pemán, introduction by Federico Carlos Sá de Robles, AHR (Barcelona, Spain), 1972, third edition, Carroggio (Barcelona, Spain), 1980.
Ganas hablar, Editorial Planeta (Barcelona, Spain), 1974.
Author of prologue to Noches de Shemadl: poemas, by José Riera Clavillé, and Manuel de Cabanyes: Selección.
"LA CENIZA FUÉ ÁRBOL" CYCLE; HISTORICAL NOVELS
Mariona Rebull, Ediciones Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 1943, third edition, Editorial Planeta (Barcelona, Spain), 1982.
La ceniza fué árbol (contains Mariona Rebull, El viudo Rius, Desiderio, and 19 de julio; also see below), Ediciones Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 1945, reprinted, Editorial Planeta (Barcelona, Spain), 1972.
El viudo Rius, Ediciones Destino (Barcelona, Spain), 1947, third edition, Editorial Planeta (Barcelona, Spain), 1982.
Desiderio, Editorial Planeta (Barcelona, Spain), 1957, eighth edition, 1973.
19 de julio, Editorial Planeta (Barcelona, Spain), 1965, sixth edition, 1972.
Guerra civil, Editorial Planeta (Barcelona, Spain), 1972, third edition, 1976.
El veler, Editorial Altés (Barcelona, Spain), 1932.
Diagonal, Editorial Altés (Barcelona, Spain), 1934.
ADAPTATIONS: Agusti's novel series "La ceniza fué árbol" was adapted for Spanish television, 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: In addition to his career as a successful and influential journalist, Ignacio Agusti wrote both in Catalan and in Castilian Spanish, producing novels that are noted for their descriptive accuracy and understanding of mid-twentieth-century Barcelona society. The cycle "La ceniza fué árbol," which has in various editions since its initial publication in a single vlume in 1945, includes Mariona Rebull, El viudo Rius, Desiderio, 19 de julio, and Guerra civil. Agusti's most significant literary achievement, this pentalogy covers the period from 1865 to the Spanish Civil War and reflects life in Barcelona as the city was emerging as the industrial and commercial center of Spain.
Mariona Rebull is considered a classic piece of fiction depicting the bourgeoisie of Barcelona in their belle époque splendor. The protagonists are two families, the industrial Rius clan and the merchant Rebulls, who are eventually joined by marriage, and struggle against the rising working class in defense of their inherited privilege. The story begins at the end of the nineteenth century before the convulsive events of 1909 caused Spain to lose its colonies in the Moroccan war. This gave rise to "Semana Tragica," a series of anarchist uprisings, as well as street fighting in Barcelona. Like the rest of Europe, the privileged world of the bourgeoisie was clearly coming to an end. As Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa details in The Leopard, the cultured life of the contemporaneous Sicilian nobility has become a thing of the past; so too does Agusti examine the first generation of bourgeois industrialists in Barcelona during this period of decline.
Mariona Rebull begins the bourgeoisie's slow swan song. Agusti describes the placid and discrete charms of their social routines with their galas, summer retreats, and Sunday outings in fine detail. Central to his work are the opulent lifestyle of a nouveau riche mill owner—originally a tradesman—and the more modest lifestyle of Joaquin Rius, a jeweler who hopes to marry into "good society" by wedding Mariona Rebull. The other main protagonist of the novel is el liceo: turn-of-the-twentieth-century bourgeois in all its opulence and complacency. The setting is the dawn of the textile industry, and the novel ends with the inevitable class conflicts brought on by urbanization and industrialization. Agusti uses the Paris Exposition of 1888 as a symbol of urbanity and progress set amid an affluent social strata enjoying summer retreats in the Vallés region of Catalonia.
Agusti was the first author to write about the life of the wealthy of Barcelona from the inside. As a member of high society himself, he incorporates anachronistic language to give readers a sense of belle époque culture. Commenting on La ceniza fué árbol in El Mundo online, Luis Racionero wrote: "Through its use of anachronistic language and its nineteenth century theme of arranged marriage, the novel still reads very well…. In fact, almost all the nineteenth century novels touched the subject of the absurd conflict between love and marriage; only the English and German romantics had the idea that the two could coincide."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July 15, 1973, Earle M. Gladden, review of 19 de julio, p. 1054.
Razon y Fé, January, 1966, Rafael M. De Hornedo, review of 19 de Julio and "La ceniza fué árbol," p. 91.
Revista de Occidente, Volume 82, 1979, review of Mariona Rebull, p. 23.
El Mundo Online, http://www.elmundo.es/ (May 9, 2001), Luis Racionero, article on a television adaptation of La ceniza fué árbol.