Ramón Maria del Valle Inclán
Ramón Maria del Valle Inclán
The Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet Ramón Maria del Valle Inclán (ca. 1866-1936) was a member of the Generation of '98. Foreign literary trends deeply influenced his work, and he was especially indebted to the modernist movement.
Ramón del Valle Inclán was born in Puebla de Caramiñál in the northwestern part of Spain. His elegant, aristocratic, and majestic demeanor was certainly not typically Galician. He loved the fabulous and the mysterious: he grew a beard and long hair to lend an air of mystery and legend to his personality. He often wore a black bell-like cloak and black hat. He lost his left arm during an altercation in Madrid in 1899. Valle inclán became well known in the literary circles of Madrid and Rome, in which cities he resided. He had studied at the University of Santiago de Compostela, and he died in this town in 1936 just before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. He had held several official positions under the Spanish Republic.
Valle Inclán produced poetry, plays, and novels. His symbolist verse includes Aromas de leyenda (1907) and La pipa de Kif (1919). His plays include Aguila de blasón (1907) and Cara de plata (1922), both in prose. Cuento de abril (1910) and La marquesa Rosalinda (1913) were in verse. La cabeza del dragón (1914) was one of his most successful dramas. He achieved renown, however, as a novelist. He used himself as the model for the libertine hero of his Sonatas (1902-1905). This four-part series, which represents the seasons of the year and corresponding stages of man, was translated into English as The Pleasant Memoirs of the Marquis de Bradomin (1924). Flor de Santidad (1904) pictures Galician life, and Los cruzados de la causa (1908) deals with the Carlist War. His later novels included Divinas palabras (1920), which evoked his Galician background; Luces de Bohemia (1924), dealing with the life of bohemians; Tirano Banderas (1926), set in a Latin American republic; and La corte de los milagros (1927).
Perhaps in the Sonatas Valle Inclán best revealed his art and personal style: poetical, evocative, and delightful. A dreamy and nostalgic world of perfumes and fantasies fused in these novels with the story of the hero's many loves. Tone and style interested Valle Inclán most, not content; he absorbed other writers' material and style but imprinted on his own works his special musical, elegant, and quasi-romantic style. He was above all a poet even when writing prose, and some critics consider him the leading novelist of the Spanish modernist movement.
The reader should consult Aubrey F. G. Bell, Contemporary Spanish Literature (1925; rev. ed. 1933), and the equally excellent treatment of Valle Inclán in L. A. Warren, Modern Spanish Literature, vol. 1 (1929). For a Spaniard's eulogistic view see Salvador de Madariaga, The Genius of Spain (1923), and also the more recent book by Richard E. Chandler and Kessel Schwartz, A New History of Spanish Literature (1961). □