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Valle-Inclán, Ramón (Maria) del (Valle Peña)

VALLE-INCLÁN, Ramón (Maria) del (Valle Peña)

Nationality: Spanish. Born: Villanueva de Arosa, Pontevedra, Galicia, 28 October 1866. Education: University of Santiago de Compostela, studied law, 1888-90. Family: Married Josefina Blanco in 1907 (divorced 1932); six children. Career: Newspaper journalist and war correspondent, El Imperial, France, 1916; professor of ethics, Madrid School of Fine Arts, 1916-1933; director, Spanish Academy of Fine Arts, Rome, 1933-35. Died: 5 January 1936.

Publications

Collections

Obras completas. 2 vols., 1944.

Obras escogidas, edited by Gasper Gómez de la Serna. 1958; vol.2, 1971.

Antologia, edited by Florentino M. Turner. 1963.

Valle-Inclán: Antología, edited by Rafael Conte. 1966.

Short Stories

Femininas: seis historias amorosas. 1895.

Epitalamio (novella). 1897.

Sonatas. Memorias del Marqués de Bradomín. 1941; as The

Pleasant Memoirs of the Marquis de Bradomín, 1924; as Spring and Summer Sonatas: The Memoirs of the Marquis of Bradomín, 1997.

Sonata de ontoño. 1902.

Sonata de estío. 1903.

Sonata de primavera. 1904.

Sonata de invierno. 1905.

Corte de amor. 1903.

Jardín umbrío. 1903; expanded edition as Jardín novelesco, 1905.

Flor de santidad. Historia milenaria (novellas). 1904.

Historias perversas. 1907; expanded edition as Historias de amor, 1909.

Cofre de sándalo. 1909.

Las mieles del rosal. Trozos selectos. 1910.

Flores de almendro. 1936.

Novels

La guerra Carlista (Los cruzados de la causa, El resplandor de la hoguera, Gerifaltes de antaño). 3 vols., 1908-09.

La lámpara maravillosa. Ejercicios espirituales. 1916; as The Lamp of Marvels, 1986.

Tirano Banderas. 1926; as The Tyrant, 1929.

La corte de los milagros. 1927.

Baza de espadas. 1958.

El truedo dorado, edited by G. Fabra Barreiro. 1975.

Plays

Cenizas (produced 1899). 1899; as El yermo de las almas, 1908.

Aguila de blasón. 1907.

El marqués de Bradomín. 1907.

Romance de lobos. 1908; as Wolves! Wolves!, 1957.

Cuento de Abril (produced 1909). 1910.

Voces de gesta (produced 1912). 1911.

La marquesa Rosalinda (produced 1912). 1913.

El embrujado. 1913.

La cabeza del dragón (produced 1909). 1914; as Farsa de la cabeza del dragón, 1914; as The Dragon's Head, in Poet Lore 29, 1918.

Farsa de la enamorada del rey. 1920; as Farsa italiana de la enamorada del rey, 1920.

Divinas palabras. 1920; as Divine Words, 1977.

Comedias bárbaras. 1922.

Farsa y licencia de la reina castiza. 1922.

Cara de plata. 1922.

Luces de Bohemia. 1924; as Lights of Bohemia, 1969; as Bohemian Lights, 1976.

Los cuernos de don Friolera. 1925.

Las galas del difunto. 1930.

Teatro selecto, edited by Anthony N. Zahareas. 1969.

Savage Acts: Four Plays. 1993.

Poetry

Aromas de leyenda. 1907.

La pipa de kif. 1919.

El pasajero. 1920.

Valle-Inclán: Sus mejores poesías, edited by Fernando Gutiérrez. 1955.

Páginas selectas, edited by Joseph Michel, 1969.

Other

Opera omnia. 22 vols., 1912-28; 24 vols., 1941-43.

La media noche. 1917.

Cuentos, estética y poemas (includes story and verse). 1919.

Ligazon; auto para silvetas. 1926.

Vísperas de la gloriosa. 1930.

Publicaciones periodísticas anteriores a 1895, edited by WilliamL. Fichter. 1952.

Autobiography, Aesthetics, Aphorism, edited by Robert Lima. 1966.

Articulos completos y otras páginas olvidadas. 1987.

Also translated works by Paul Alexis, José María Eça de Queiroz, and others.

*

Bibliography:

A Bio-bibliography and Iconography by José Rubia Barcía, 1960; An Annotated Bibliography by Robert Lima, 1972.

Critical Studies:

Valle-Inclán, An Appraisal of His Life and Works edited by Anthony Zahareas, 1968; Valle-Inclán: Tiranos Banderas by Verity Smith, 1971; Valle-Inclán by Verity Smith, 1973; Dominant Themes in the Sonatas by Rosco N. Tolman, 1973; The Primitive Themes in Valle-Inclán by R. Spoto, 1976; "Ruido ibérico": A Popular View of Revolution by A. Sinclair, 1977; Time and History in Valle-Inclán's Historical Novels and Tirano Banderas by Peggy Lynne Tucker, 1980; Valle-Inclán's Modernism by Claire J. Paolini, 1986.

* * *

The Spanish novelist, dramatist, poet, and short story writer Ramón de Valle-Inclán was born of impoverished rural gentry in Pontevedra (Galicia), Spain's most northwestern province—agrarian, backward, feudal, and atavistic. This Galician background is evident in the Celtic influences, legends, superstitions, and mythological figures of his early stories, and regional folklore continues flavoring some mature works. Valle-Inclán, usually included with the "Generation of 1898," established himself from 1895 onward in Madrid, leading a bohemian literary existence.

His first collection of short stories, Femeninas, cameo portraits of women, contained some germs of plots later expanded. His penchant for reworking and recycling his materials aroused critical imputations of limited originality, yet Valle-Inclán was one of the most profoundly original creative personalities in all Spanish letters. Parnassianism, symbolism, decadentism, and Latin-American modernists influenced his initial period (1895-1905). His first major achievement in the modernist manner, Sonata de otoño ("Autumn Sonata"), was one of four novelettes keyed to the seasons, comprising the gallant memoirs of an aging Don Juan, the Marquis of Bradomín. Each novelette recreates a season of Bradomín's life (spring-youth, summer-prime, autumn-middle age, winter-old age), with everything harmonizing, from the lady love of the hour to mood, setting, decor, and rhetoric. The titles evince modernist efforts to equate literature with music (as with plastic arts). Sonata de estío ("Summer Sonata") and two collections of modernist short stories, Corte de amor (Court of Love) and Jardín umbrío (Shaded Garden), appeared in 1903, and Sonata de primavera ("Spring Sonata") and the novelette Flor de santidad (Saintly Flower) appeared the following year. After completing the cycle with Sonata de invierno ("Winter Sonata") Valle-Inclán moved from modernism toward expressionism. He married actress Josefina Blanco and began writing more for the theater while working on a novelistic cycle treating the nineteenth-century Carlist wars. He is best known for his mature theater and novels based on the esperpento, an aesthetic of his own devising, defined as the heroes and values of yore reflected in distorting mirrors—a grotesque, caricaturesque reversal of orthodox values and parodic, expressionistic deformation of humanity (human is dehumanized, seen as a puppet, an animal, or a bad actor). Because of the force, daring, and licentiousness of some of his works, they were banned from the Spanish stage until nearly a half-century after his death.

Story collections or anthologies published after 1905 added little new material. Corte de amor contained three stories, two from Femeninas, plus the novelettes "Rosita" and "Augusta," the latter published separately in 1897 as Epitalamio (Epithalamium). Later editions included "La Condesa de Cela" (Countess Cela) and "La Generala" (The General's Wife), both first published in Femeninas and subsequently in literary reviews. Jardín novelesco (Novelesque Garden), an expanded version of Jardín umbrío, added five stories, with more in subsequent editions. Cofre de sándalo (Sandalwood Box) repeated four of the six stories from Femeninas and two from Corte de amor, etc. "La nina Chole" from Femeninas formed the basis for Sonata de estío, while "Adega," published in a magazine in 1899, was expanded to become Flor de santidad. Historias perversas includes eight stories, all from previous collections, six of them repeated in Historias de amor (Love Stories), which adds only one story not found in collections already cited. Usually each edition incorporates modifications, sometimes significant.

Need for funds obliged Valle-Inclán to keep publishing fiction, but being an exquisite craftsman and consummate stylist who continually polished and refined his work, he recycled material from earlier collections rather than dashing off new stories. This makes it impractical to treat collections as entities, but two basic divisions exist: the novelettes and all story collections except Jardín umbrío (later Jardín novelesco) are exclusively portraits of "noble and modest ladies," and, as titles of subsequent collections indicate, they are also love stories, often adulterous, semiclandestine, and perverse, involving libertines, or are parodies of romanticism, which Valle-Inclán despised; the remainder of his stories (especially those in the final expanded edition of Jardín novelesco, subtitled "Stories of Saints, Souls in Torment, Demons and Thieves") are fused with the millenary, medieval Galician ambient of ruins, superstition, witchcraft, satanism, lyricism, decadence, brutality, madness, and savagery. Flores de almendro (Almond Flowers), the most complete anthology of his short stories, includes both types of his brief fiction, the erotic and gallant as well as Galician tales of mystery, fantasy, and the supernatural. Determining how many stories are in Valle-Inclán's corpus is problematic: quite a few published separately were later incorporated verbatim into the various sonatas, Flor de santidad, or his novel-length theatrical works, the Comedias bárbaras (Barbarian Comedies), raising questions as to whether they are fragments or independent works; the existence of multiple extant variants, some widely divergent, is another problem, as is his practice of changing titles. Most counts set Valle's brief fiction somewhere between 50 and 70 titles, including stories and novelettes.

The decadent aristocracy, inauthenticity, and artificiality of social behavior, seen in the gallant tales and the sonatas, contrast with Valle-Inclán's love for the idyllic, pastoral world of rural Galicia, a landscape of fable and legend, bucolic forests and rivers, but also of primitive passions, stark misery, and tragedy, appearing in a majority of the other stories. In Flor de santidad an innocent, devout shepherd girl shares her tent with a mendicant pilgrim that she believes is Christ; he seduces her, and she prophesies that she will bear a divine child. Pronounced bewitched and exorcized, she ends by going to the servants' market. "Spring Sonata," set in Italy where the youthful Bradomín is serving as an envoy to the Vatican, depicts his involvement in intrigues as a background to his pursuit of a virginal adolescent destined for the convent. His diabolical snares and stalking of María Rosario indirectly cause her little sister's death and lead to madness in which María Rosario equates him with Satan. "Summer Sonata," set in tropical Mexico during Bradomín's prime, features a mature, sensual, amoral Creole involved in an incestuous "marriage" with her father. She eventually becomes the Marquis' lover (this is the only sonata that does not end tragically). The other two sonatas are set in Spain, "Autumn Sonata" in Galicia and "Winter Sonata" in the Pyrenees of Navarre where the silver-haired Bradomín is fighting on the side of the Carlist insurrection against government troops. Wounded, his arm amputated, he is nursed in a convent by a novitiate he recognizes as his illegitimate daughter from a long-ago affair. Nonetheless he seduces her, provoking her suicide, which does not prevent his subsequently enjoying a night of love with her mother. Valle-Inclán deliberately emphasizes the satanic side of Bradomín and further titillates his readers by intertextual references to writings of the Marquis de Sade and other nineteenth-century pornographers. While the sonatas are the best known of Valle-Inclán's works and are fully characteristic of the erotic subgrouping of his stories, they differ greatly from his theater and his mature, historical novels of political criticism and satire, on which the author's enduring reputation rests.

—Janet Pérez

See the essay on "Autumn Sonata."

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