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Title: Youth and Egolatry
Author: Baroja, Pío, 1872-1956
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Youth and Egolatry


Translated from the Spanish By Jacob S. Fassett, Jr. and Frances L.






The bad man of Itzea
Humble and a wanderer
Ignoramus, Ignorabimus
Nevertheless, we call ourselves materialists
In defense of religion
Dionysus or Apollonian
Epicuri de grege porcum
Evil and Rousseau's Chinaman
The root of disinterested evil
Music as a sedative
Concerning Wagner
Universal musicians
The folk song
On the optimism of eunuchs


To my readers thirty years hence
Youthful writings
The beginning and end of the journey
Mellowness and the critical sense
On devouring one's own God
New paths
Longing for change
Baroja, you will never amount to anything (A Refrain)
The patriotism of desire
My home lands
Cruelty and stupidity
The anterior image
The tragi-comedy of sex
The veils of the sexual life
A little talk
The sovereign crowd
The remedy


Rhetoric and anti-rhetoric
The rhythm of style
Rhetoric of the minor key
The value of my ideas
Genius and admiration
My literary and artistic inclinations
My library
On being a gentleman
Giving offence
Thirst for glory
Elective antipathies
To a member of several academies


Cervantes, Shakespeare, Molière
The encyclopedists
The romanticists
The naturalists
The Spanish realists
The Russians
The critics



The Roman historians
Modern and contemporary historians


Family mythology
Our History


San Sebastian
My parents
Two lunatics
The hawk
In Madrid
In Pamplona
Don Tirso Larequi
A visionary rowdy
Robinson Crusoe and the Mysterious Island


To Valencia


Dolores, La Sacristana


My father's disillusionment
Industry and democracy
The vexations of a small tradesman


Our own generation
Paul Schmitz
Ortega y Gasset
A pseudo-patron


My versatility according to Bonafoux


The enmity of Dicenta
The posthumous enmity of Sawa
Semi-hatred on the part of Silverio Lanza


Our newspapers and periodicals
Our journalists


Votes and applause
An offer
Love of the workingman
The conventionalist Barriovero
The morality of the alternating party system
On obeying the law
The sternness of the law


The old-time soldier
Down goes prestige
Science and the picturesque
What we need today
Our armies
A word from Kuroki, the Japanese

Palinode and fresh outburst of ire

Spanish politicians
On Baroja's anarchists


Pío Baroja is a product of the intellectual reign of terror that went on
in Spain after the catastrophe of 1898. That catastrophe, of course, was
anything but unforeseen. The national literature, for a good many years
before the event, had been made dismal by the croaking of Iokanaans, and
there was a definite _défaitiste_ party among the _intelligentsia_.
But among the people in general, if there was not optimism, there was at
least a sort of resigned indifference, and so things went ahead in the
old stupid Spanish way and the structure of society, despite a few
gestures of liberalism, remained as it had been for generations. In Spain,
of course, there is always a _Kulturkampf_, as there is in Italy,
but during these years it was quiescent. The Church, in the shadow of
the restored monarchy, gradually resumed its old privileges and its old
pretensions. So on the political side. In Catalonia, where Spain keeps the
strangest melting-pot in Europe and the old Iberian stock is almost
extinct, there was a menacing seething, but elsewhere there was not much
to chill the conservative spine. In the middle nineties, when the
Socialist vote in Germany was already approaching the two million mark,
and Belgium was rocked by great Socialist demonstrations, and the
Socialist deputies in the French Chamber numbered fifty, and even England
was beginning to toy gingerly with new schemes of social reform, by
Bismarck out of Lassalle, the total strength of the Socialists of Spain
was still not much above five thousand votes. In brief, the country seemed
to be removed from the main currents of European thought. There was
unrest, to be sure, but it was unrest that was largely inarticulate and
that needed a new race of leaders to give it form and direction.

Then came the colossal shock of the American war and a sudden
transvaluation of all the old values. Anti-clericalism got on its legs
and Socialism got on its legs, and out of the two grew that great
movement for the liberation of the common people, that determined and
bitter struggle for a fair share in the fruits of human progress, which
came to its melodramatic climax in the execution of Francisco Ferrer.
Spain now began to go ahead very rapidly, if not in actual achievement,
then at least in the examination and exchange of ideas, good and bad.
Parties formed, split, blew up, revived and combined, each with its sure
cure for all the sorrows of the land. Resignationism gave way to a harsh
and searching questioning, and questioning to denunciation and demand
for reform. The monarchy swayed this way and that, seeking to avoid both
the peril of too much yielding and the worse peril of not yielding
enough. The Church, on the defensive once more, prepared quickly for
stormy weather and sent hurried calls to Rome for help. Nor was all this
uproar on the political and practical side. Spanish letters, for years
sunk into formalism, revived with the national spirit, and the new books
in prose and verse began to deal vigorously with the here and now.
Novelists, poets and essayists appeared who had never been heard of
before--young men full of exciting ideas borrowed from foreign lands and
even more exciting ideas of their own fashioning. The national
literature, but lately so academic and remote from existence, was now
furiously lively, challenging and provocative. The people found in it,
not the old placid escape from life, but a new stimulation to arduous
and ardent living. And out of the ruck of authors, eager, exigent, and
the tremendous clash of nations, new and old, there finally emerged a
prose based not upon rhetorical reminiscences, but responsive minutely
to the necessities of the national life. The oratorical platitudes of
Castelar and Cánovas del Castillo gave way to the discreet analyses of
Azorín (José Martínez Ruiz) and José Ortega y Gasset, to the sober
sentences of the Rector of the University of Salamanca, Miguel de
Unamuno, writing with a restraint which is anything but traditionally
Castilian, and to the journalistic impressionism of Ramiro de Maeztu,
supple and cosmopolitan from long residence abroad. The poets now
jettisoned the rotundities of the romantic and emotional schools of
Zorrilla and Salvador Rueda, and substituted instead the precise,
pictorial line of Rubén Darío, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and the brothers
Machado, while the socialistic and republican propaganda which had
invaded the theatre with Pérez Galdós, Joaquín Dicenta, and Angel
Guimerá, bore fruit in the psychological drama of Benavente, the social
comedies of Linares Rivas, and the atmospheric canvases which the
Quinteros have painted of Andalusia.

In the novel, the transformation is noticeable at once in the rapid
development of the pornographic tale, whose riches might bring a blush
to the cheek of Boccaccio, and provide Poggio and Aretino with a
complete review; but these are stories for the barrack, venturing only
now and then upon the confines of respectability in the erotic romances
of Zamacois and the late enormously popular Felipe Trigo. Few Spaniards
who write today but have written novels. Yet the gesture of the grand
style of Valera is palsied, except, perhaps, for the conservative
Quixote, Ricardo León, a functionary in the Bank of Spain, while the
idyllic method lingers fitfully in such gentle writers as José María
Salaverría, after surviving the attacks of the northern realists under
the lead of Pereda, in his novels of country life, and of the less
vigorous Antonio de Trueba, and of Madrid vulgarians, headed by Mesonero
Romanos and Coloma. The decadent novel, foreshadowed a few years since
by Alejandro Sawa, has attained full maturity in Hoyos y Vinent, while
the distinctive growth of the century is the novel of ideas, exact,
penetrating, persistently suggestive in the larger sense, which does not
hesitate to make demands upon the reader, and this is exemplified most
distinctively, both temperamentally and intellectually, by Pío Baroja.

It would be difficult to find two men who, dealing with the same ideas,
bring to them more antagonistic attitudes of mind than Baroja and Blasco
Ibáñez. For all his appearance of modernism, Blasco really belongs to
the generation before 1898. He is of the stock of Victor Hugo--a
popular rhapsodist and intellectual swashbuckler, half artist and half
mob orator--a man of florid and shallow certainties, violent
enthusiasms, quack remedies, vast magnetism and address, and even vaster
impudence--a fellow with plain touches of the charlatan. His first solid
success at home was made with _La Barraca_ in 1899--and it was a
success a good deal more political than artistic; he was hailed for his
frenzy far more than for his craft. Even outside of Spain his subsequent
celebrity has tended to ground itself upon agreement with his politics,
and not upon anything properly describable as a critical appreciation of
his talents. Had _The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse_ been
directed against France instead of in favour of France, it goes without
saying that it would have come to the United States without the
_imprimatur_ of the American Embassy at Madrid, and that there
would have appeared no sudden rage for the author among the generality
of novel-readers. His intrinsic merits, in sober retrospect, seem very
feeble. For all his concern with current questions, his accurate news
instinct, he is fundamentally a romantic of the last century, with more
than one plain touch of the downright operatic.

Baroja is a man of a very different sort. A novelist undoubtedly as
skilful as Blasco and a good deal more profound, he lacks the quality of
enthusiasm and thus makes a more restricted appeal. In place of gaudy
certainties he offers disconcerting questionings; in place of a neat and
well-rounded body of doctrine he puts forward a sort of generalized
contra-doctrine. Blasco is almost the typical Socialist--iconoclastic,
oratorical, sentimental, theatrical--a fervent advocate of all sorts of
lofty causes, eagerly responsive to the shibboleths of the hour. Baroja
is the analyst, the critic, almost the cynic. If he leans toward any
definite doctrine at all, it is toward the doctrine that the essential
ills of man are incurable, that all the remedies proposed are as bad as
the disease, that it is almost a waste of time to bother about humanity
in general. This agnostic attitude, of course, is very far from merely
academic, monastic. Baroja, though his career has not been as dramatic
as Blasco's, has at all events taken a hand in the life of his time and
country and served his day in the trenches of the new enlightenment. He
is anything but a theorist. But there is surely no little significance
in his final retreat to his Basque hillside, there to seek peace above
the turmoil. He is, one fancies, a bit disgusted and a bit despairing.
But if it is despair, it is surely not the despair of one who has
shirked the trial.

The present book, _Juventud, Egolatría_, was written at the height
of the late war, and there is a preface to the original edition, omitted
here, in which Baroja defends his concern with aesthetic and
philosophical matters at such a time. The apologia was quite gratuitous.
A book on the war, though by the first novelist of present-day Spain,
would probably have been as useless as all the other books on the war.
That stupendous event will be far more soundly discussed by men who have
not felt its harsh appeal to the emotions. Baroja, evading this grand
enemy of all ideas, sat himself down to inspect and co-ordinate the
ideas that had gradually come to growth in his mind before the bands
began to bray. The result is a book that is interesting, not only as the
frank talking aloud of one very unusual man, but also as a
representation of what is going on in the heads of a great many other
Spaniards. Blasco, it seems to me, is often less Spanish than French;
Valencia, after all, is next door to Catalonia, and Catalonia is
anything but Castilian. But Baroja, though he is also un-Castilian and
even a bit anti-Castilian, is still a thorough Spaniard. He is more
interested in a literary feud in Madrid than in a holocaust beyond the
Pyrenees. He gets into his discussion of every problem a definitely
Spanish flavour. He is unmistakably a Spaniard even when he is trying
most rigorously to be unbiased and international. He thinks out
everything in Spanish terms. In him, from first to last, one observes
all the peculiar qualities of the Iberian mind--its disillusion, its
patient weariness, its pervasive melancholy. Spain, I take it, is the
most misunderstood of countries. The world cannot get over seeing it
through the pink mist of _Carmen_, an astounding Gallic caricature,
half flattery and half libel. The actual Spaniard is surely no such
grand-opera Frenchman as the immortal toreador. I prescribe the
treatment that cured me, for one, of mistaking him for an Iberian. That
is, I prescribe a visit to Spain in carnival time.

Baroja, then, stands for the modern Spanish mind at its most
enlightened. He is the Spaniard of education and worldly wisdom,
detached from the mediaeval imbecilities of the old régime and yet aloof
from the worse follies of the demagogues who now rage in the country.
Vastly less picturesque than Blasco Ibáñez, he is nearer the normal
Spaniard--the Spaniard who, in the long run, must erect a new structure
of society upon the half archaic and half Utopian chaos now reigning in
the peninsula. Thus his book, though it is addressed to Spaniards,
should have a certain value for English-speaking readers. And so it is




Only what is of the mind has value to the mind. Let us dedicate
ourselves without compunction to reflecting a little upon the eternal
themes of life and art. It is surely proper that an author should write
of them.

I cultivate a love which is intellectual, and of a former epoch, besides
a deafness to the present. I pour out my spirit continually into the
eternal moulds without expecting that anything will result from it.

But now, instead of a novel, a few stray comments upon my life have come
from my pen.

Like most of my books, this has appeared in my hands without being
planned, and not at my bidding. I was asked to write an autobiographical
sketch of ten or fifteen pages. Ten or fifteen pages seemed a great many
to fill with the personal details of a life which is as insignificant as
my own, and far too few for any adequate comment upon them. I did not
know how to begin. To pick up the thread, I began drawing lines and
arabesques. Then the pages grew in number and, like Faust's dog, my pile
soon waxed big, and brought forth this work.

At times, perhaps, the warmth of the author's feeling may appear
ill-advised to the reader; it may be that he will find his opinions
ridiculous and beside the mark on every page. I have merely sought to
sun my vanity and egotism, to bring them forth into the air, so that my
aesthetic susceptibilities might not be completely smothered.

This book has been a work of mental hygiene.


Egotism resembles cold drinks in summer; the more you take, the
thirstier you get. It also distorts the vision, producing an hydropic
effect, as has been noted by Calderón in his _Life is a Dream_.

An author always has before him a keyboard made up of a series of I's.
The lyric and satiric writers play in the purely human octave; the
critic plays in the bookman's octave; the historian in the octave of the
investigator. When an author writes of himself, perforce he plays upon
his own "I," which is not exactly that contained in the octave of the
sentimentalist nor yet in that of the curious investigator. Undoubtedly
at times it must be a most immodest "I," an "I" which discloses a name
and a surname, an "I" which is positive and self-assertive, with the
imperiousness of a Captain General's edict or a Civil Governor's decree.

I have always felt some delicacy in talking about myself, so that the
impulsion to write these pages of necessity came from without.

As I am not generally interested when anybody communicates his likes and
dislikes to me, I am of opinion that the other person most probably
shares the same feelings when I communicate mine to him. However, a time
has now arrived when it is of no consequence to me what the other person

In this matter of giving annoyance, a formula should be drawn up and
accepted, after the manner of Robespierre: the liberty of annoying
another begins where his liberty of annoying you leaves off.

I understand very well that there may be persons who believe that their
lives are wholly exemplary, and who thus burn with ardour to talk about
them. But I have not led an exemplary life to any such extent. I have
not led a life that might be called pedagogic, because it is fitted to
serve as a model, nor a life that might be called anti-pedagogic,
because it would serve as a warning. Neither do I bring a fistful of
truths in my hand, to scatter broadcast. What, then, have I to say? And
why do I write about myself? Assuredly, to no useful purpose.

The owner of a house is sometimes asked:

"Is there anything much locked up in that room?"

"No, nothing but old rubbish," he replies promptly.

But one day the owner opens the room, and then he finds a great store of
things which he had not remembered, all of them covered with dust; so he
hauls them out and generally they prove to be of no service at all. This
is precisely what I have done.

These pages, indeed, are a spontaneous exudation. But are they sincere?
Absolutely sincere? It is not very probable. The moment we sit for a
photographer, instinctively we dissemble and compose our features. When
we talk about ourselves, we also dissemble.

In as short a book as this the author is able to play with his mask and
to fix his expression. Throughout the work of an entire lifetime,
however, which is of real value only when it is one long autobiography,
deceit is impossible, because when the writer is least conscious of it,
he reveals himself.



The Bad Man of Itzea

When I first came to live in this house at Vera del Bidasoa, I found
that the children of the district had taken possession of the entryway
and the garden, where they misbehaved generally. It was necessary to
drive them away little by little, until they flew off like a flock of

My family and I must have seemed somewhat peculiar to these children,
for one day, when one little fellow caught sight of me, he took refuge
in the portal of his house and cried out:

"Here comes the bad man of Itzea!"

And the bad man of Itzea was I.

Perhaps this child had heard from his sister, and his sister had heard
from her mother, and her mother had heard from the sexton's wife, and
the sexton's wife from the parish priest, that men who have little
religion are very bad; perhaps this opinion did not derive from the
priest, but from the president of the Daughters of Mary, or from the
secretary of the Enthronization of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; perhaps
some of them had read a little book by Father Ladrón de Guevara
entitled, _Novelists, Good and Bad_, which was distributed in the
village the day that I arrived, and which states that I am irreligious,
a clerophobe, and quite shameless. Whether from one source or another,
the important consideration to me was that there was a bad man in Itzea,
and that that bad man was I.

To study and make clear the instincts, pride, and vanities of the bad
man of Itzea is the purpose of this book.


Some years ago, I cannot say just how many, probably twelve or fourteen,
during the days when I led, or thought I led, a nomadic life, happening
to be in San Sebastian, I went to visit the Museum with the painter
Regoyos. After seeing everything, Soraluce, the director, indicated that
I was expected to inscribe my name in the visitor's register, and after
I had done so, he said:

"Place your titles beneath."

"Titles!" I exclaimed. "I have none."

"Then put down what you are. As you see, the others have done the same."

I looked at the book. True enough; there was one signature, So-and-So,
and beneath, "Chief of Administration of the Third Class and Knight of
Charles III"; another, Somebody Else, and beneath was written "Commander
of the Battalion of Isabella the Catholic, with the Cross of Maria

Then, perhaps slightly irritated at having neither titles nor honours
(burning with an anarchistic and Christian rancour, as Nietzsche would
have it), I jotted down a few casual words beneath my signature:

"Pío Baroja, a humble man and a wanderer."

Regoyos read them and burst out laughing.

"What an idea!" exclaimed the director of the Museum, as he closed the

And there I remained a humble man and a wanderer, overshadowed by Chiefs
of Administration of all Classes, Commanders of all Branches of the
Service, Knights of all kinds of Crosses, rich men returned from
America, bankers, etc., etc.

Am I a humble man and a wanderer? Not a bit of it! There is more
literary phantasy in the phrase than there is truth. Of humility I do
not now, nor have I ever possessed more than a few rather Buddhistic
fragments; nor am I a wanderer either, for making a few insignificant
journeys does not authorize one to call oneself a wanderer. Just as I
put myself down at that time as a humble man and a wanderer, so I might
call myself today a proud and sedentary person. Perhaps both
characterizations contain some degree of truth; and perhaps there is
nothing in either.

When a man scrutinizes himself very closely, he arrives at a point where
he does not know what is face and what is mask.


If I am questioned concerning my ideas on religion, I reply that I am an
agnostic--I always like to be a little pedantic with philistines--now I
shall add that, more than this, I am a dogmatophagist.

My first impulse in the presence of a dogma, whether it be political,
moral, or religious, is to cast about for the best way to masticate,
digest, and dispose of it.

The peril in an inordinate appetite for dogma lies in the probability of
making too severe a drain upon the gastric juices, and so becoming
dyspeptic for the rest of one's life.

In this respect, my inclination exceeds my prudence. I have an incurable

Ignoramus, Ignorabimus

Such are the words of the psychologist, DuBois-Reymond, in one of his
well-known lectures. The agnostic attitude is the most seemly that it is
possible to take. Nowadays, not only have all religious ideas been
upset, but so too has everything which until now appeared most solid,
most indivisible. Who has faith any longer in the atom? Who believes in
the soul as a monad? Who believes in the objective validity of the

The atom, unity of the spirit and of consciousness, the validity of
perception, all these are under suspicion today. _Ignoramus,


Nevertheless, we call ourselves materialists. Yes; not because we
believe that matter exists as we see it, but because in this way we may
contradict the vain imaginings and all those sacred mysteries which
begin so modestly, and always end by extracting the money from our

Materialism, as Lange has said, has proved itself the most fecund
doctrine of science. Wilhelm Ostwald, in his _Victory of Scientific
Materialism_, has defended the same thesis with respect to modern
physics and chemistry.

At the present time we are regaled with the sight of learned friars
laying aside for a moment their ancient tomes, and turning to dip into
some manual of popular science, after which they go about and astonish
simpletons by giving lectures.

The war horse of these gentlemen is the conception entertained by
physicists at the present-day concerning matter, according to which it
has substance in the precise degree that it is a manifestation of

"If matter is scarcely real, then what is the validity of materialism?"
shout the friars enthusiastically.

The argument smacks of the seminary and is absolutely worthless.

Materialism is more than a philosophical system: it is a scientific
method, which will have nothing to do either with fantasies or with

The jubilation of these friars at the thought that matter may not exist,
in truth and in fact is in direct opposition to their own theories.
Because if matter does not exist, then what could God have created?


The great defender of religion is the lie. Lies are the most vital
possession of man. Religion lives upon lies, and society maintains
itself upon them, with its train of priests and soldiers--the one,
moreover, as useless as the other. This great Maia of falsehood sustains
all the sky borders in the theatre of life, and, when some fall, it
lifts up others.

If there were a solvent for lies, what surprises would be in store for
us! Nearly everybody who now appears to us to be upright, inflexible,
and to hold his chest high, would be disclosed as a flaccid, weak
person, presenting in reality a sorry spectacle.

Lies are much more stimulating than truth; they are also almost always
more tonic and more healthy. I have come to this conclusion rather late
in life. For utilitarian and practical ends, it is clearly our duty to
cultivate falsehood, arbitrariness, and partial truths. Nevertheless, we
do not do so. Can it be that, unconsciously, we have something of the
heroic in us?


I am a Basque, if not on all four sides, at least on three and a half.
The remaining half, which is not Basque, is Lombard.

Four of my eight family names are Guipúzcoan, two of them are Navarrese,
one Alavese, and the other Italian. I take it that family names are
indicative of the countries where one's ancestors lived, and I take it
also that there is great potency behind them, that the influence of each
works upon the individual with a duly proportioned intensity. Assuming
this to be the case, the resultant of the ancestral influences operative
upon me would indicate that my geographical parallel lies somewhere
between the Alps and the Pyrenees. Sometimes I am inclined to think that
the Alps and the Pyrenees are all that is European in Europe. Beyond
them I seem to see Asia; below them, Africa.

In the riparian Navarrese, as in the Catalans and the Genovese, one
already notes the African; in the Gaul of central France, as well as in
the Austrian, there is a suggestion of the Chinese.

Clutching the Pyrenees and grafted upon the Alps, I am conscious of
being an Arch-European.


Formerly, when I believed that I was both humble and a wanderer, I was
convinced that I was a Dionysian. I was impelled toward turbulence, the
dynamic, the theatric. Naturally, I was an anarchist. Am I today? I
believe I still am. In those days I used to enthuse about the future,
and I hated the past.

Little by little, this turbulence has calmed down--perhaps it was never
very great. Little by little I have come to realize that if following
Dionysus induces the will to bound and leap, devotion to Apollo has a
tendency to throw the mind back until it rests upon the harmony of
eternal form. There is great attraction in both gods.


I am also a swine of the herd of Epicurus; I, too, wax eloquent over
this ancient philosopher, who conversed with his pupils in his garden.
The very epithet of Horace, upon detaching himself from the Epicureans,
"_Epicuri de grege porcum_," is full of charm.

All noble minds have hymned Epicurus. "Hail Epicurus, thou honour of
Greece!" Lucretius exclaims in the third book of his poem.

"I have sought to avenge Epicurus, that truly holy philosopher, that
divine genius," Lucian tells us in his _Alexander, or the False
Prophet_. Lange, in his _History of Materialism_, sets down
Epicurus as a disciple and imitator of Democritus.

I am not a man of sufficient classical culture to be able to form an
authoritative opinion of the merits of Epicurus as a philosopher. All my
knowledge of him, as well as of the other ancient philosophers, is
derived from the book of Diogenes Laertius.

Concerning Epicurus, I have read Bayle's magnificent article in his
_Historical and Critical Dictionary_, and Gassendi's work, _De
Vita et Moribus Epicuri_. With this equipment, I have become one of
the disciples of the master.

Scholars may say that I have no right to enrol myself as one of the
disciples of Epicurus, but when I think of myself, spontaneously there
comes to my mind the grotesque epithet which Horace applied to the
Epicureans in his _Epistles_, a characterization which for my part
I accept and regard as an honour: "Swine of the herd of Epicurus,
_Epicuri de grege porcum_."


I do not believe in utter human depravity, nor have I any faith in great
virtue, nor in the notion that the affairs of life may be removed beyond
good and evil. We shall outgrow, we have already outgrown, the
conception of sin, but we shall never pass beyond the idea of good and
evil; that would be equivalent to skipping the cardinal points in
geography. Nietzsche, an eminent poet and an extraordinary psychologist,
convinced himself that we should be able to leap over good and evil with
the help of a springboard of his manufacture.

Not with this springboard, nor with any other, shall we escape from the
polar North and South of the moral life.

Nietzsche, a product of the fiercest pessimism, was at heart a good man,
being in this respect the direct opposite of Rousseau, who, despite the
fact that he is forever talking about virtue, about sensibility, the
heart, and the sublimity of the soul, was in reality a low, sordid

The philanthropist of Geneva shows the cloven hoof now and then. He
asks: "If all that it were necessary for us to do in order to inherit
the riches of a man whom we had never seen, of whom we had never even
heard, and who lived in the furthermost confines of China, were to press
a button and cause his death, what man living would not press that

Rousseau is convinced that we should all press the button, and he is
mistaken, because the majority of men who are civilized would do nothing
of the kind. This, to my mind, is not to say that men are good; it is
merely to say that Rousseau, in his enthusiasm for humanity, as well as
in his aversion to it, is wide of the mark. The evil in man is not evil
of this active sort, so theatrical, so self-interested; it is a passive,
torpid evil which lies latent in the depths of the human animal, it is
an evil which can scarcely be called evil.


Tell a man that an intimate friend has met with a great misfortune. His
first impulse is one of satisfaction. He himself is not aware of it
clearly, he does not realize it; nevertheless, essentially his emotion
is one of satisfaction. This man may afterward place his fortune, if he
has one, at the disposition of his friend, yes, even his life; yet this
will not prevent his first conscious reaction upon learning of the
misfortune of his friend, from being one which, although confused, is
nevertheless not far removed from pleasure. This feeling of
disinterested malice may be observed in the relations between parents
and children as well as in those between husbands and wives. At times it
is not only disinterested, but counter-interested.

The lack of a name for this background of disinterested malice, which
does exist, is due to the fact that psychology is not based so much upon
phenomena as it is upon language.

According to our current standards, latent evil of this nature is
neither of interest nor significance. Naturally, the judge takes account
of nothing but deeds; to religion, which probes more deeply, the intent
is of importance; to the psychologist, however, who attempts to
penetrate still further, the elemental germinative processes of volition
are of indispensable significance.

Whence this foundation of disinterested malice in man? Probably it is an
ancestral legacy. Man is a wolf toward man, as Plautus observes, and the
idea has been repeated by Hobbes.

In literature, it is almost idle to look for a presentation of this
disinterested, this passive evil, because nothing but the conscious is
literary. Shakespeare, in his _Othello_, a drama which has always
appeared false and absurd to me, emphasizes the disinterested malice of
Iago, imparting to him a character and mode of action which are beyond
those of normal men; but then, in order to accredit him to the
spectators, he adds also a motive, and represents him as being in love
with Desdemona.

Victor Hugo, in _L'Homme qui Rit_, undertook to create a type after
the manner of Iago, and invented Barkilphedro, who embodies
disinterested yet active malice, which is the malice of the villain of

But that other disinterested malice, which lurks in the sodden sediment
of character, that malice which is disinterested and inactive, and not
only incapable of drawing a dagger but even of writing an anonymous
note, this no writer but Dostoievski has had the penetration to reveal.
He has shown us at the same time mere inert goodness, lying passive in
the soul, without ever serving as a basis for anything.


Music, the most social of the arts, and that undoubtedly which possesses
the greatest future, presents enormous attractions to the bourgeoisie.
In the first place, it obviates the necessity of conversation; it is not
necessary to know whether your neighbor is a sceptic or a believer, a
materialist or a spiritualist; no possible argument can arise concerning
the meaning and metaphysics of life. Instead of war, there is peace. The
music lover may argue, but his conceptions are entirely circumscribed by
the music, and have no relation whatever either to philosophy or to
politics as such. The wars are small wars, and spill no blood. A
Wagnerite may be a freethinker or a Catholic, an anarchist or a
conservative. Even painting, which is an art of miserable general ideas,
is not so far removed from intelligence as is music. This explains why
the Greeks were able to attain such heights in philosophy, and yet fell
to such depths in music.

Music has an additional merit. It lulls to sleep the residuum of
disinterested malice in the soul.

As a majority of the lovers of painting and sculpture are second-hand
dealers and Jews in disguise, music lovers, for the most part, are a
debased people, envious, embittered and supine.


I am one of those who do not understand music, yet I am not completely
insensible to it. This does not prevent me, however, from entertaining a
strong aversion to all music lovers, and especially to Wagnerites.

When Nietzsche, who apparently possessed a musical temperament, set
Bizet up against Wagner, he confessed, of course, premeditated
vindictiveness. "It is necessary to mediterraneanize music," declares
the German psychologist. But how absurd! Music must confine itself to
the geographical parallel where it was born; it is Mediterranean,
Baltic, Alpine, Siberian. Nor is the contention valid that an air should
always have a strongly marked rhythm, because, if this were the case, we
should have nothing but dance music. Certainly, music was associated
with the dance in the beginning, but a sufficient number of years have
now elapsed to enable each of these arts to develop independently.

As regards Nietzsche's hostility to the theatocracy of Wagner, I share
it fully. This business of substituting the theatre for the church, and
teaching philosophy singing, seems ridiculous to me. I am also out of
patience with the wooden dragons, swans, stage fire, thunder and

Although it may sound paradoxical, the fact is that all this scenery is
in the way. I have seen King Lear in Paris, at the Theatre Antoine,
where it was presented with very nearly perfect scenery. When the King
and the fool roamed about the heath in the third act, amid thunder and
lightning, everybody was gazing at the clouds in the flies and watching
for the lightning, or listening to the whistling of the wind; no one
paid any attention to what was said by the characters.


German music is undoubtedly the most universal music, especially that of
Mozart and Beethoven. It seems as if there were fewer particles of their
native soil imbedded in the works of these two masters than is common
among their countrymen. They bring out in sharp relief the cultural
internationalism of Germany.

Mozart is an epitome of the grace of the eighteenth century; he is at
once delicate, joyous, serene, gallant, mischievous. He is a courtier of
whatever country one will. Sometimes, when listening to his music, I ask
myself: "Why is it that this, which must be of German origin, seems to
be part of all of us, to have been designed for us all?"

Beethoven, too, like Mozart, is a man without a country. As the one
manipulates his joyous, soft, serene rhythms, the other throbs and
trembles with obscure meanings and pathetic, heartrending laments, the
source of which lies hidden as at the bottom of some mine.

He is a Segismund who complains against the gods and against his fate in
a tongue which knows no national accent. A day will come when the
negroes of Timbuktu will listen to Mozart's and Beethoven's music and
feel that it belongs to them, as truly as it ever did to the citizens of
Munich or of Vienna.


The folk song lies at the opposite pole from universal music. It is
music which smacks most of the soil whereon it has been produced. By its
very nature it is intelligible at all times to all persons in the
locality, if only because music is not an intellectual art; it deals in
rhythms, it does not deal in ideas. But beyond the fact of its
intelligibility, music possesses different attractions for different
people. The folk song preserves to us the very savour of the country in
which we were born; it recalls the air, the climate that we breathed and
knew. When we hear it, it is as if all our ancestors should suddenly
present themselves. I realize that my tastes may be barbaric, but if
there could only be one kind of music, and I were obliged to choose
between the universal and the local, my preference would be wholly for
the latter, which is the popular music.


In a text book designed for the edification of research workers--a
specimen of peculiarly disagreeable tartuffery--the histologist, Ramón y
Cajal, who, as a thinker, has always been an absolute mediocrity,
explains what the young scholar should be, in the same way that the
Constitution of 1812 made it clear what the ideal Spanish citizen should

So we know now the proper character of the young scholar. He must be
calm, optimistic, serene ... and all this with ten or twelve coppers in
his pocket!

Some friends inform me that in the Institute for Public Education at
Madrid, where an attempt is made to give due artistic orientation to the
pupils, they have contrived an informal classification of the arts in
the order of their importance; first comes painting; then, music; and,
last, literature.

Considering carefully what may be the reasons for such a sequence, it
would appear that the purpose must be to deprive the student of any
occasion for becoming pessimistic. Certainly nobody will ever have his
convictions upset by looking at ancient cloths daubed over with linseed
oil, nor by the bum-ta-ra of music. But, to my mind, in a country like
Spain, it is better that our young men should be dissatisfied than that
they should go to the laboratory every day in immaculate blouses,
chatter like proper young gentlemen about El Greco, Cezanne and the
Ninth Symphony, and never have the brains to protest about anything.
Back of all this correctness may be divined the optimism of eunuchs.




Among my books there are two distinct classes: Some I have written with
more effort than pleasure, and others I have written with more pleasure
than effort.

My readers apparently are not aware of this distinction, although it
seems evident to me. Can it be that true feeling is of no value in a
piece of literature, as some of the decadents have thought? Can it be
that enthusiasm, weariness, loathing, distress and ennui never transpire
through the pages of a book? Indubitably none of them transpire unless
the reader enters into the spirit of the work. And, in general, the
reader does not enter into the spirit of my books. I cherish a hope
which, perhaps, may be chimerical and ridiculous, that the Spanish
reader thirty or forty years hence, who takes up my books, whose
sensibilities, it may be, have been a little less hardened into
formalism than those of the reader of today, will both appreciate and
dislike me more intelligently.


As I turn over the pages of my books, now already growing old, I receive
the impression that, like a somnambulist, I have frequently been walking
close to the cornice of a roof, entirely unconsciously, but in imminent
danger of falling off; again, it seems to me that I have been travelling
paths beset with thorns, which have played havoc with my skin.

I have maintained myself rather clumsily for the most part, yet at times
not without a certain degree of skill.

All my books are youthful books; they express turbulence; perhaps their
youth is a youth which is lacking in force and vigour, but nevertheless,
they are youthful books.

Among thorns and brambles there lies concealed a tiny Fountain of Youth
in my soul. You may say that its waters are bitter and saline, instead
of being crystalline and clear. And it is true. Yet the fountain flows
on, and bubbles, and gurgles and splashes into foam. That is enough for
me. I do not wish to dam it up, but to let the water run and remove
itself. I have always felt kindly toward anything that removes itself.


I formerly considered myself a young man of protoplasmic capabilities,
and I entertained very little enthusiasm for form until after I had
talked with some Russians. Since then I have realized that I was more
clean cut, more Latin, and a great deal older than I had supposed.

"I see that you belong to the _ancient régime_," a Frenchwoman remarked
to me in Rome.

"I? Impossible!"

"Yes," she insisted. "You are a conversationalist. You are not an
elegant, sprucely dressed abbé; you are an abbé who is cynical and
ill-natured, who likes to fancy himself a savage amid the comfortable
surroundings of the drawing-room."

The Frenchwoman's observation set me to thinking.

Can it be that I am hovering in the vicinity of Apollo's Temple without
realizing it?

Possibly my literary life has been merely a journey from the Valley of
Dionysus to the Temple of Apollo. Now somebody will tell me that art
begins only on the bottom step of the Temple of Apollo. And it is true.
But there is where I stop--on the bottom step.


Whenever my artistic conscience reproaches me, I always think: If I were
to undertake to write these books today, now that I am aware of their
defects, I should never write them. Nevertheless, I continue to write
others with the same old faults. Shall I ever attain that mellowness of
soul in which all the vividness of impression remains, yet in which it
has become possible to perfect the expression? I fear not. Most likely,
when I reach the stage of refining the expression, I shall have nothing
to say, and so remain silent.


In my books, as in most that are modern, there is an indefinable
resentment against life and against society.

Resentment against life is of far more ancient standing than resentment
against society.

The former has always been a commonplace among philosophers.

Life is absurd, life is difficult of direction, life is a disease, the
better part of the philosophers have told us.

When man turned his animosity against society, it became the fashion to
exalt life. Life is good; man, naturally, is magnanimous, it was said.
Society has made him bad.

I am convinced that life is neither good nor bad; it is like Nature,
necessary. And society is neither good nor bad. It is bad for the man
who is endowed with a sensibility which is excessive for his age; it is
good for a man who finds himself in harmony with his surroundings.

A negro will walk naked through a forest in which every drop of water is
impregnated with millions of paludal germs, which teems with insects,
the bites of which produce malignant abcesses, and where the temperature
reaches fifty degrees Centigrade in the shade.

A European, accustomed to the sheltered life of the city, when brought
face to face with such a tropical climate, without means of protection,
would die.

Man needs to be endowed with a sensibility which is proper to his epoch
and his environment; if he has less, his life will be merely that of a
child; if he has just the right measure, it will be the life of an
adult; if he has more, he will be an invalid.


It is said that the philosopher Averroes was wont to remark: "What a
sect these Christians are, who devour their own God!"

It would seem that this divine alimentation ought to make men themselves
divine. But it does not; our theophagists are human--they are only too
human, as Nietzsche would have it.

There can be no doubt but that the Southern European races are the most
vivacious, the most energetic, as well as the toughest in the world.
They have produced all the great conquerors. Christianity, when it found
it necessary to overcome them, innoculated them with its Semitic virus,
but this virus has not only failed to make them weaker, but, on the
contrary, it has made them stronger. They appropriated what suited them
in the Asiatic mentality, and proceeded to make a weapon of their
religion. These cruel Levantine races, thanks only to Teutonic
penetration, are at last submitting to a softening process, and they
will become completely softened upon the establishment in Europe of the
domination of the Slav.

Meanwhile they maintain their sway in their own countries.

"They are quite inoffensive," we are told.

Nonsense! They would burn Giordano Bruno as willingly now as they did in
the old days.

There is a great deal of fire remaining in the hearts of our


In an article appearing in _Hermes_, a magazine published in
Bilbao, Salaverría assumes that I have been cured of my anarchism, and
that I persist in a negative and anarchistic attitude in order to retain
my literary clientele; which is not the fact. In the first place, I can
scarcely be said to have a clientele; in the second place, a small
following of conservatives is much more lucrative than a large one of
anarchists. It is true that I am withdrawing myself from the festivals
of Pan and the cult of Dionysus, but I am not substituting for them,
either outwardly or inwardly, the worship of Yahveh or of Moloch. I have
no liking for Semitic traditions--none and none whatever! I am not able,
like Salaverría, to admire the rich simply because they are rich, nor
people in high stations because they happen to occupy them.

Salaverría assumes that I have a secret admiration for grand society,
generals, magistrates, wealthy gentlemen from America, and Argentines
who shout out: "How perfectly splendid!" I have the same affection for
these things that I have for the cows which clutter up the road in front
of my house. I would not be Fouquier-Tinville to the former nor butcher
to the latter; but my affection then has reached its limit. Even when I
find something worthy of admiration, my inclination is toward the small.
I prefer the Boboli Gardens to those of Versailles, and Venetian or
Florentine history to that of India.

Great states, great captains, great kings, great gods, leave me cold.
They are all for peoples who dwell on vast plains which are crossed by
mighty rivers, for the Egyptians, for the Chinese, for the Hindus, for
the Germans, for the French.

We Europeans who are of the region of the Pyrenees and the Alps, love
small states, small rivers, and small gods, whom we may address

Salaverría is also mistaken when he says that I am afraid of change. I
am not afraid. My nature is to change. I am predisposed to develop, to
move from here to there, to reverse my literary and political views if
my feelings or my ideas alter. I avoid no reading except that which is
dull; I shall never retreat from any performance except a vapid one, nor
am I a partisan either of austerity or of consistency. Moreover, I am
not a little dissatisfied with myself, and I would give a great deal to
have the pleasure of turning completely about, if only to prove to
myself that I am capable of a shift of attitude which is sincere.


Some months since three friends met together in an old-fashioned
bookshop on the venerable Calle del Olivo--a writer, a printer, and

"Fifteen years ago all three of us were anarchists," remarked the

"What are we today?" I inquired.

"We are conservatives," replied the man who wrote. "What are you?"

"I believe that I have the same ideas I had then."

"You have not developed if that is so," retorted the writer with a show
of scorn.

I should like to develop, but into what? How? Where am I to find the

When sitting beside the chimney, warming your feet by the fire as you
watch the flames, it is easy to imagine that there may be novel walks to
explore in the neighbourhood; but when you come to look at the map you
find that there is nothing new in the whole countryside.

We are told that ambition means growth. It does not with me. Ortega y
Gasset believes that I am a man who is constitutionally unbribable. I
should not go so far as to say that, but I do say that I do not believe
that I could be bribed in cold blood by the offer of material things. If
Mephistopheles wishes to purchase my soul, he cannot do it with a
decoration or with a title; but if he were to offer me sympathy, and be
a little effusive while he is about it, adding then a touch of
sentiment, I am convinced that he could get away with it quite easily.


Just as the aim of politicians is to appear constant and consistent,
artists and literary men aspire to change.

Would that the desire of one were as easy of attainment as that of the

To change! To develop! To acquire a second personality which shall be
different from the first! This is given only to men of genius and to
saints. Thus Caesar, Luther, and Saint Ignatius each lived two distinct
lives; or, rather, perhaps, it was one life, with sides that were
obverse and reverse.

The same thing occurs sometimes also among painters. The evolution of El
Greco in painting upsets the whole theory of art.

There is no instance of a like transformation either in ancient or
modern literature. Some such change has been imputed to Goethe, but I
see nothing more in this author than a short preliminary period of
exalted feeling, followed by a lifetime dominated by study and the

Among other writers there is not even the suggestion of change.
Shakespeare is alike in all his works; Calderón and Cervantes are always
the same, and this is equally true of our modern authors. The first
pages of Dickens, of Tolstoi or of Zola could be inserted among the
last, and nobody would be the wiser.

Even the erudite rhetorical poets, the Victor Hugos, the Gautiers, and
our Spanish Zorrillas, never get outside of their own rhetoric.


(_A Refrain_)

"Baroja does not amount to anything, and I presume that he will never
amount to anything," Ortega y Gasset observes in the first issue of the

I have a suspicion myself that I shall never amount to anything.
Everybody who knows me has always thought the same.

When I first went to school in San Sebastian, at the age of four--and it
has rained a great deal since that day--the teacher, Don León Sánchez y
Calleja, who made a practice of thrashing us with a very stiff pointer
(oh, these hallowed traditions of our ancestors!), looked me over and

"This boy will prove to be as sulky as his brother. He will never amount
to anything."

I studied for a time in the Institute of Pamplona with Don Gregorio
Pano, who taught us mathematics; and this old gentleman, who looked like
the Commander in _Don Juan Tenorio_, with his frozen face and his
white beard, remarked to me in his sepulchral voice:

"You are not going to be an engineer like your father. You will never
amount to anything."

When I took therapeutics under Don Benito Hernando in San Carlos, Don
Benito planted himself in front of me and said:

"That smile of yours, that little smile ... it is impertinent. Don't you
come to me with any of your satirical smiles. You will never amount to
anything, unless it is negative and useless."

I shrugged my shoulders.

Women who have known me always tell me: "You will never amount to

And a friend who was leaving for America volunteered:

"When I return in twenty or thirty years, I shall find all my
acquaintances situated differently: one will have become rich, another
will have ruined himself, this fellow will have entered the cabinet,
that one will have been swallowed up in a small town; but you will be
exactly what you are today, you will live the same life, and you will
have just two pesetas in your pocket. That is as far as you will get."

The idea that I shall never amount to anything is now deeply rooted in
my soul. It is evident that I shall never become a deputy, nor an
academician, nor a Knight of Isabella the Catholic, nor a captain of
industry, nor alderman, nor Member of the Council, nor a common cheat,
nor shall I ever possess a good black suit.

And yet when a man has passed forty, when his belly begins to take on
adipose tissue and he puffs out with ambition, he ought to be something,
to sport a title, to wear a ribbon, to array himself in a black frock
coat and a white waistcoat; but these ambitions are denied to me. The
professors of my childhood and my youth rise up before my eyes like the
ghost of Banquo, and proclaim: "Baroja, you will never amount to

When I go down to the seashore, the waves lap my feet and murmur:
"Baroja, you will never amount to anything." The wise owl that perches
at night on our roof at Itzea calls to me: "Baroja, you will never
amount to anything," and even the crows, winging their way across the
sky, incessantly shout at me from above: "Baroja, you will never amount
to anything."

And I am convinced that I never shall amount to anything.


I may not appear to be a very great patriot, but, nevertheless, I am.
Yet I am unable to make my Spanish or Basque blood an exclusive
criterion for judging the world. If I believe that a better orientation
may be acquired by assuming an international point of view, I do not
hold it improper to cease to feel, momentarily, as a Spaniard or a

In spite of this, a longing for the accomplishment of what shall be for
the greatest good of my country, normally obsesses my mind, but I am
wanting in the patriotism of lying.

I should like to have Spain the best place in the world, and the Basque
country the best part of Spain.

The feeling is such a natural and common one that it seems scarcely
worth while to explain it.

The climate of Touraine or of Tuscany, the Swiss lakes, the Rhine and
its castles, whatever is best in Europe, I would root up, if I had my
say, and set down here between the Pyrenees and the Straits of
Gibraltar. At the same time, I should denationalize Shakespeare,
Dickens, Tolstoi and Dostoievski, making them Spaniards. I should see
that the best laws and the best customs were those of our country. But
wholly apart from this patriotism of desire, lies the reality. What is
to be gained by denying it? To my mind nothing is to be gained.

There are many to whom the only genuine patriotism is the patriotism of
lying, which in fact is more of a matter of rhetoric than it is of

Our falsifying patriots are always engaged in furious combat with other
equally falsifying internationalists.

"Nothing but what we have is of any account," cries one party.

"No, it is what the other fellow has," cries the other.

Patriotism is telling the truth as to one's country, in a sympathetic
spirit which is guided and informed by a love of that which is best.

Now some one will say: "Your patriotism, then, is nothing but an
extension of your ego; it is purely utilitarian."

Absolutely so. But how can there be any other kind of patriotism?


I have two little countries, which are my homes--the Basque provinces,
and Castile; and by Castile I mean Old Castile. I have, further, two
points of view from which I look out upon the world: one is my home on
the Atlantic; the other is very like a home to me, on the Mediterranean.

All my literary inspirations spring either from the Basque provinces or
from Castile. I could never write a Gallegan or a Catalan novel.

I could wish that my readers were all Basques and Castilians.

Other Spaniards interest me less. Spaniards who live in America, or
Americans, do not interest me at all.


It appears from an article written by Azorín in connection with a book
of mine, that, to my way of thinking, there are two enormities which are
incredible and intolerable. They are cruelty and stupidity.

Civilized man has no choice but to despise these manifestations of
primitive, brute existence.

We may be able to tolerate stupidity and lack of comprehension when they
are simple and wholly natural, but what of an utter obtuseness of
understanding which dresses itself up and becomes rhetorical? Can
anything be more disagreeable?

When a fly devours the pollen greedily from the pyrethrum, which, as we
know, will prove fatal to him, it becomes clear at once that flies have
no more innate sagacity than men. When we listen to a conservative
orator defending the past with salvos of rhetorical fireworks, we are
overwhelmed by a realization of the complete odiousness of ornamental

With cruelty it is much the same. The habits of the sphex surprise while
bull fights disgust us. The more cruelty and stupidity are dressed up,
the more hateful they become.


I wrote an article once called, "The Spaniard Fails to Understand."
While I do not say it was good, the idea had some truth in it. It is a
fact that failure to understand is not exclusively a Spanish trait, but
the failing is a human one which is more accentuated among peoples of
backward culture, whose vitality is great.

Like a child the Spaniard carries an anterior image in his mind, to
which he submits his perceptions. A child is able to recognize a man or
a horse more easily in a toy than in a painting by Raphael or by
Leonardo da Vinci, because the form of the toy adapts itself more
readily to the anterior image which he has in his consciousness.

It is the same with the Spaniard. Here is one of the causes of his want
of comprehension. One rejects what does not fit in with one's
preconceived scheme of things.

I once rode to Valencia with two priests who were by no means unknown.
One of them had been in the convent of Loyola at Azpeitia for four
years. We talked about our respective homes; they eulogized the
Valencian plain while I replied that I preferred the mountains. As we
passed some bare, treeless hills such as abound near Chinchilla, one of
them--the one, in fact, who had been at Loyola--remarked to me:

"This must remind you of your own country."

I was dumbfounded. How could he identify those arid, parched, glinting
rocks with the Basque landscape, with the humid, green, shaded
countryside of Azpeitia? It was easy to see that the anterior image of a
landscape existing in the mind of that priest, provided only the general
idea of a mountain, and that he was unable to distinguish, as I was,
between a green mountain overgrown with turf and trees, and an arid
hillside of dry rocks.

An hypothesis explaining the formation of visual ideas has been
formulated by Wundt, which he calls the hypothesis of projection. It
attributes to the retina an innate power of referring its impressions
outward along straight lines, in directions which are determined.

According to Müller, who has adopted this hypothesis, what we perceive
is our own retina under the category of space, and the size of the
retinal image is the original unit of measurement applied by us to
exterior objects.

The Spaniard like a child, will have to amplify his retinal image, if he
is ever to amount to anything. He will have to amplify it, and, no
doubt, complicate it also.


It is very difficult to approach the sex question and to treat it at
once in a clear and dignified manner. And yet, who can deny that it
furnishes the key to the solution of many of the enigmas and obscurities
of psychology?

Who can question that sex is one of the bases of temperament?

Nevertheless, the subject may be discussed permissibly in scientific and
very general terms, as by Professor Freud. What is unpardonable is any
attempt to bring it down to the sphere of the practical and concrete.

I am convinced that the repercussion of the sexual life is felt through
all the phenomena of consciousness.

According to Freud, an unsatisfied desire produces a series of obscure
movements in consciousness which eat at the soul as electricity is
generated in a storage battery, and this accumulation of psychic energy
must needs produce a disturbance in the nervous system.

Such nervous disturbances, which are of sexual origin, produced by the
strangulation of desires, shape our mentality.

What is the proper conduct for a man during the critical years between
the ages of fourteen and twenty-three? He should be chaste, the priests
will say, shutting their eyes with an hypocritical air. He can marry
afterwards and become a father.

A man who can be chaste without discomfort between fourteen and
twenty-three, is endowed with a most unusual temperament. And it is one
which is not very common at present. As a matter of fact, young men are
not chaste, and cannot be.

Society, as it is well aware of this, opens a little loophole to
sexuality, which is free from social embarrassment--the loophole of

As the bee-hive has its workers, society has its prostitutes.

After a few years of sexual life without the walls, passed in the
surrounding moats of prostitution, the normal man is prepared for
marriage, with its submission to social forms and to standards which are
clearly absurd.

There is no possibility of escaping this dilemma which has been decreed
by society.

The alternative is perversion or surrender.

To a man of means, who has money to spend, surrender is not very
difficult; he has but to follow the formula. Prostitution among the
upper classes does not offend the eye, and it reveals none of the sores
which deface prostitution as it is practised among the poor. Marriage,
too, does not sit heavily upon the rich. With the poor, however, shame
and surrender walk hand in hand.

To practise the baser forms of prostitution is to elbow all that is most
vile in society, and to sink to its level oneself. Then, to marry
afterwards without adequate means, is a continual act of self-abasement.
It is to be unable to maintain one's convictions, it is to be compelled
to fawn upon one's superiors, and this is more true in Spain than it is
elsewhere, as everything here must be obtained through personal

Suppose one does not submit? If you do not submit you are lost. You are
condemned irretrievably to perversions, to debility, to hysteria.

You will find yourself slinking about the other sex like a famished
wolf, you will live obsessed by lewd ideas, your mind will solace itself
with swindles and cheats wherewith to provide a solution of the riddle
of existence, you will become the mangy sheep that the shepherd sets
apart from the flock.

Ever since early youth, I have been clearly conscious of this dilemma,
and I have determined and said: "No; I choose the abnormal--give me
hysteria, but submission, never!"

So derangement and distortion have come to my mind.

If I could have followed my inclinations freely during those fruitful
years between fifteen and twenty-five, I should have been a serene
person, a little sensual, perhaps, and perhaps a little cynical, but I
should certainly not have become violent.

The morality of our social system has disturbed and upset me.

For this reason I hate it cordially, and I vent upon it in full measure,
as best I may, all the spleen I have to give.

I like at times to disguise this poison under a covering of art.


I am unable to feel any spontaneous enthusiasm for fecundity such as
that which Zola sings. Moreover, I regard the whole pose as a
superstition. I may be a member of an exhausted race,--that is quite
possible,--but between the devotion to our species which is professed by
these would-be re-peoplers of countries, and the purely selfish
preoccupation of the Malthusians, my sympathies are all with the latter.
I see nothing beyond the individual in this sex question--beyond the
individual who finds himself inhibited by sexual morality.

This question must be faced some day and cleared up, it must be seen
divested of all mystery, of all veils, of all deceit. As the hygiene of
nutrition has been studied openly, in broad daylight, so it must be with
sex hygiene.

As a matter of fact, the notion of sin, then, that of honour, and,
finally, dread of syphilis and other sexual diseases, rest like a cloud
on the sexual life, and they are jumbled together with all manner of
fantastic and literary fictions.

Obviously, rigid sexual morality is for the most part nothing more than
the practice of economy in disguise. Let us face this whole problem
frankly. A man has no right to let his life slip by to gratify fools'
follies. We must have regard to what is, with Stendhal. It will be
argued of course that these veils, these subterfuges of the sexual life,
are necessary. No doubt they are to society, but they are not to the
individual. There are those who believe that the interests of the
individual and of society are one, but we, who are defenders of the
individual as against the State, do not think so.


Myself: I often think I should have been happier if I had been impotent.

My Hearers: How can you say such a terrible thing?

Myself: Why not? To a man like me, sex is nothing but a source of
misery, shame and cheap hypocrisy, as it is to most of us who are
obliged to get on without sufficient means under this civilization of
ours. Now you know why I think that I should have been better off if I
had been impotent.


Single life is said to be selfish and detestable. Certainly it is
immoral. But what of marriage? Is it as moral as it is painted?

I am one who doubts it.

Marriage, like all other social institutions of consequence, is
surrounded by a whole series of common assumptions that cry out to be
cleared up.

There is a pompous and solemn side to marriage, and there is a private
museum side.

Marriage poses as an harmonious general concord in which religion,
society, and nature join.

But is it anything of the kind? It would appear to be doubtful. If the
sole purpose of marriage is to rear children, a man ought to live with a
woman only until she becomes pregnant, and, after that moment, he ought
not to touch her. But here begins the second part. The woman bears a
baby; the baby is nourished by the mother's milk. The man has no right
to co-habit with his wife during this period either, because it will be
at the risk of depriving the child of its natural source of nutriment.

In consequence, a man must either co-habit with his wife once in two
years, or else there will be some default in the marriage.

What is he to do? What is the moral course? Remember that three factors
have combined to impose the marriage. One, the most far-reaching today,
is economic; another, which is also extremely important, is social, and
the third, now rapidly losing its hold, but still not without influence,
is religious. The three forces together attempt to mould nature to their

Economic pressure and the high cost of living make against the having of
children. They encourage default.

"How are we to have all these children?" the married couple asks. "How
can we feed and educate them?"

Social pressure also tends in the same direction. Religious morality,
however, still persists in its idea of sin, although the potency of this
sanction is daily becoming less, even to the clerical eye.

If nature had a vote, it would surely be cast in favour of polygamy. Man
is forever sexual, and in equal degree, until the verge of decrepitude.
Woman passes through the stages of fecundation, pregnancy, and

There can be no doubt but that the most convenient, the most logical and
the most moral system of sexual intercourse, naturally, is polygamy.

But the economic subdues the natural. Who proposes to have five wives
when he cannot feed one?

Society has made man an exclusively social product, and set him apart
from nature.

What can the husband and wife do, especially when they are poor? Must
they overload themselves with children, and then deliver them up to
poverty and neglect because God has given them, or shall they limit
their number?

If my opinion is asked, I advise a limit--although it may be artificial
and immoral.

Marriage presents us with this simple choice: we may either elect the
slow, filthy death of the indigent workingman, of the carabineer who
lives in a shack which teems with children, or else the clean life of
the French, who limit their offspring.

The middle class everywhere today is accepting the latter alternative.
Marriage is stripping off its morality in the bushes, and it is well
that it should do so.


A strong man may either dominate and subdue the sovereign crowd when he
confronts it, as he would a wild beast, or he may breathe his thoughts
and ideas into it, which is only another form of domination.

As I am not strong enough to do either, I shun the sovereign masses, so
as not to become too keenly conscious of their collective bestiality and
ill temper.


Every man fancies that he has something of the doctor in him, and
considers himself competent to advise some sort of a cure, so I come now
with a remedy for the evils of life. My remedy is constant action. It is
a cure as old as the world, and it may be as useful as any other, and
doubtless it is as futile as all the rest. As a matter of fact, it is no
remedy at all.

The springs of action lie all within ourselves, and they derive from the
vigour and health which we have inherited from our fathers. The man who
possesses them may draw on them whenever he will, but the man who is
without them can never acquire them, no matter how widely he may seek.



The extraradius of a writer may be said to be made up of his literary
opinions and inclinations. I wish to expose the literary cell from the
nucleus out and to unfold it, instead of proceeding in from the

The term may seem pedantic and histological, but it has the attraction
to my mind of a reminiscence of student days.


If I were to formulate my opinions upon style, I should say: "Imitations
of other men's styles are bad, but a man's own style is good."

There is a store of common literary finery, almost all of which is in
constant use and has become familiar.

When a writer lays hands on any of this finery spontaneously, he makes
it his own, and the familiar flower blossoms as it does in Nature.

When an author's inspiration does not proceed from within out, but
rather from without in, then he becomes at once a bad rhetorician.

I am one of those writers who employ the least possible amount of this
common store of rhetoric. There are various reasons for my being
anti-rhetorical. In the first place I do not believe that the pages of
a bad writer can be improved by following general rules; if they do gain
in one respect, they lose inevitably in another.

So much for one reason; but I have others.

Languages display a tendency to follow established forms. Thus Spanish
tends toward Castilian. But why should I, a Basque, who never hears
Castilian spoken in my daily life in the accents of Avila or of Toledo,
endeavour to imitate it? Why should I cease to be a Basque in order to
appear Castilian, when I am not? Not that I cherish sectional pride, far
from it; but every man should be what he is, and if he can be content
with what he is, let him be held fortunate.

For this reason, among others, I reject Castilian turns and idioms when
they suggest themselves to my mind. Thus if it occurs to me to write
something that is distinctively Castilian, I cast about for a phrase by
means of which I may express myself in what to me is a more natural way,
without suggestion of our traditional literature.

On the other hand, if the pure rhetoricians, of the national school, who
are _castizo_--the Mariano de Cavias, the Ricardo Leóns--should
happen to write something simply, logically and with modern directness,
they would cast about immediately for a roundabout way of saying it,
which might appear elaborate and out of date.


There are persons who imagine that I am ignorant of the three or four
elementary rules of good writing, which everybody knows, while others
believe that I am unacquainted with syntax. Señor Bonilla y San Martín
has conducted a search through my books for deficiencies, and has
discovered that in one place I write a sentence in such and such
fashion, and that in another I write something else in another, while in
a third I compound a certain word falsely.

With respect to the general subject of structural usage which he raises,
it would be easy to cite ample precedent among our classic authors; with
respect to the word _misticidad_ occurring in one of my books, I
have put it into the mouth of a foreigner. The faults brought to light
by Señor Bonilla are not very serious. But what of it? Suppose they

An intelligent friend once said to me:

"I don't know what is lacking in your style; I find it acrid." I feel
that this criticism is the most apt that has yet been made.

My difficulty in writing Castilian does not arise from any deficiency in
grammar nor any want of syntax. I fail in measure, in rhythm of style,
and this shocks those who open my books for the first time. They note
that there is something about them that does not sound right, which is
due to the fact that there is a manner of respiration in them, a system
of pauses, which is not traditionally Castilian.

I should insist upon the point at greater length, were it not that the
subject of style is cluttered up with such a mass of preconceptions,
that it would be necessary to redefine our terminology, and then, after
all, perhaps we should not understand one another. Men have an idea that
they are thinking when they operate the mechanism of language which they
have at command. When somebody makes the joints of language creak, they
say: "He does not know how to manage it." Certainly he does know how to
manage it. Anybody can manage a platitude. The truth is simply this: the
individual writer endeavours to make of language a cloak to fit his
form, while, contrarywise, the purists attempt to mould their bodies
till they fit the cloak.


Persons to whom my style is not entirely distasteful, sometimes ask:

"Why use the short sentence when it deprives the period of eloquence and

"Because I do not desire eloquence or rotundity," I reply. "Furthermore,
I avoid them." The vast majority of Spanish purists are convinced that
the only possible rhetoric is the rhetoric of the major key. This, for
example, is the rhetoric of Castelar and Costa, the rhetoric which
Ricardo León and Salvador Rueda manipulate today, as it has been
inherited from the Romans. Its purpose is to impart solemnity to
everything, to that which already has it by right of nature, and to that
which has it not. This rhetoric of the major key marches with stately,
academic tread. At great, historic moments, no doubt it is very well,
but in the long run, in incessant parade, it is one of the most deadly
soporifics in literature; it destroys variety, it is fatal to subtlety,
to nice transitions, to detail, and it throws the uniformity of the
copybook over everything.

On the other hand, the rhetoric of the minor key, which seems poor at
first blush, soon reveals itself to be more attractive. It moves with a
livelier, more life-like rhythm; it is less bombastic. This rhetoric
implies continence and basic economy of effort; it is like an agile man,
lightly clothed and free of motion.

To the extent of my ability I always avoid the rhetoric of the major
key, which is assumed as the only proper style, the very moment that one
sits down to write Castilian. I should like, of course, to rise to the
heights of solemnity now and then, but very seldom.

"Then what you seek," I am told, "is a familiar style like that of
Mesonero Romanos, Trueba and Pereda?"

No, I am not attracted by that either.

The familiar, rude, vulgar manner reminds me of a worthy bourgeois
family at the dinner table. There sits the husband in his shirt sleeves,
while the wife's hair is at loose ends and she is dirty besides, and all
the children are in rags.

I take it that one may be simple and sincere without either affectation
or vulgarity. It is well to be a little neutral, perhaps, a little grey
for the most part, so that upon occasion the more delicate hues may
stand out clearly, while a rhythm may be employed to advantage which is
in harmony with actual life, which is light and varied, and innocent of
striving after solemnity.

A modern poet, in my opinion, has illustrated this rhetoric of the minor
key to perfection.

He is Paul Verlaine.

A style like Verlaine's, which is non-sequent, macerated, free, is
indispensable to any mastery of the rhetoric of the minor key. This, to
me, has always been my literary ideal.


From time to time, my friend Azorín attempts to analyse my ideas. I do
not pretend to be in the secret of the scales, as such an assumption
upon my part would be ridiculous. As the pilot takes advantage of a
favourable wind, and if it does not blow, of one that is unfavourable, I
do the same. The meteorologist is able to tell with mathematical
accuracy in his laboratory, after a glance at his instruments, not only
the direction of the prevailing wind, but the atmospheric pressure and
the degree of humidity as well. I am able only, however, to say with the
pilot: "I sail this way," and then make head as best I may.


I have no faith in the contention of the Lombrosians that genius is akin
to insanity, neither do I think that genius is an infinite capacity for
taking pains. Lombroso, for that matter, is as old-fashioned today as a
hoop skirt.

Genius partakes of the miraculous. If some one should tell me that a
stick had been transformed into a snake by a miracle, naturally I should
not believe it; but if I should be asked whether there was not something
miraculous in the very existence of a stick or of a snake, I should be
constrained to acknowledge the miracle.

When I read the lives of the philosophers in Diogenes Laertius, I arrive
at the conclusion that Epicurus, Zeno, Diogenes, Protagoras and the
others were nothing more than men who had common sense. Clearly, as a
corollary, I am obliged to conclude that the people we meet nowadays
upon the street, whether they wear gowns, uniforms or blouses, are mere
animals masquerading in human shape.

Contradicting the assumption that the great men of antiquity were only
ordinary normal beings, we must concede the fact that most extraordinary
conditions must have existed and, indeed, have been pre-exquisite,
before a Greece could have arisen in antiquity, or an Athens in Greece,
or a man such as Plato in Athens.

By very nature, the sources of admiration are as mysterious to my mind
as the roots of genius. Do we admire what we understand, or what we do
not understand? Admiration is of two kinds, of which the more common
proceeds from wonder at something which we do not understand. There is,
however, an admiration which goes with understanding.

Edgar Poe composed several stories, of which _The Goldbug_ is one,
in which an impenetrable enigma is first presented, to be solved
afterwards as by a talisman; but, then, a lesson in cryptography ensues,
wherein the talisman is explained away, and the miraculous gives place
to the reasoning faculties of a mind of unusual power.

He has done something very similar in his poem, _The Raven_, where
the poem is followed by an analysis of its gestation, which is called
_The Philosophy of Composition_. Would it be more remarkable to
write _The Raven_ by inspiration, or to write it through conscious
skill? To find the hidden treasure through the talisman of _The
Goldbug_, or through the possession of analytical faculties such as
those of the protagonist of Poe's tale?

Much consideration will lead to the conclusion that one process is as
marvellous as the other.

It may be said that there is nothing miraculous in nature, and it may be
said that it is all miraculous.


Generally speaking, I neither understand old books very well, nor do I
care for them--I have been able to read only Shakespeare, and perhaps
one or two others, with the interest with which I approach modern

It has sometimes seemed to me that the unreadableness of the older
authors might be made the foundation of a philosophic system. Yet I
have met with some surprises.

One was that I enjoyed the _Odyssey_.

"Am I a hypocrite?" I asked myself.

I do not find old painters to be as incompatible as old authors. On the
contrary, my experience has been that they are the reverse. I greatly
prefer a canvas by Botticelli, Mantegna, El Greco or Velázquez to a
modern picture.

The only famous painter of the past for whom I have entertained an
antipathy, is Raphael; yet, when I was in Rome and saw the frescos in
the Vatican, I was obliged again to ask myself if my attitude was a
pose, because they struck me frankly as admirable.

I do not pretend to taste, but I am sincere; nor do I endeavour to be
consistent. Consistency does not interest me.

The only consistency possible is a consistency which comes from without,
which proceeds from fear of public opinion, and anything of this sort
appears to me to be contemptible.

Not to change because of what others may think, is one of the most
abject forms of slavery.

Let us change all we can. My ideal is continual change--change of life,
change of home, of food, and even of skin.


Among the things that I missed most as a student, was a small library.
If I had had one, I believe I should have dipped more deeply into books
and into life as well; but it was not given me. During the period which
is most fruitful for the maturing of the mind, that is, during the years
from twelve to twenty, I lived by turns in six or seven cities, and as
it was impossible to travel about with books, I never retained any.

A lack of books was the occasion of my failure to form the habit of
re-reading, of tasting again and again and of relishing what I read, and
also of making notes in the margin.

Nearly all authors who own a small library, in which the books are
properly arranged, and nicely annotated, become famous.

I am not sentimentalizing about stolid, brazen note-taking, such as that
with which the gentlemen of the Ateneo debase their books, because that
merely indicates barbarous lack of culture and an obtuseness which is

Having had no library in my youth, I have never possessed the old
favourites that everybody carries in his pocket into the country, and
reads over and over until he knows them by heart.

I have looked in and out of books as travellers do in and out of inns,
not stopping long in any of them. I am very sorry but it is too late now
for the loss to be repaired.


Viewed from without, I seem to impress some as a crass, crabbed person,
who has very little ability, while others regard me as an unhealthy,
decadent writer. Then Azorín has said of me that I am a literary
aristocrat, a fine and comprehensive mind.

I should accept Azorín's opinion very gladly, but personality needs to
be hammered severely in literature before it leaves its slag. Like metal
which is removed from the furnace after casting and placed under the
hammer, I would offer my works to be put to the test, to be beaten by
all hammers.

If anything were left, I should treasure it then lovingly; if nothing
were left, we should still pick up some fragments of life.

I always listen to the opinions of the non-literary concerning my books
with the greatest interest. My cousin, Justo Goñi, used to express his
opinion without circumlocution. He always carried off my books as they
appeared, and then, a long time after, would give his opinion.

Of _The Way of Perfection_ he said:

"Good, yes, very good; but it is so tiresome."

I realized that there was some truth in his view.

When he read the three novels to which I had given the general title,
_The Struggle for Life_, he stopped me on the Calle de Alcalá one
day and said:

"You have not convinced me."

"How so?"

"Your hero is a man of the people, but he is falsified. He is just like
you are; you can never be anything but a gentleman."

This gentility with which my cousin reproached me, and without doubt he
was correct, is common to nearly all Spanish writers.

There are no Spaniards at present, and there never have been any at any
other time, who write out of the Spanish soul, out of the hearts of the
people. Even Dicenta did not. His _Juan José_ is not a workingman,
but a young gentleman. He has nothing of the workingman about him beyond
the label, the clothes, and such externals.

Galdós, for example, can make the common people talk; Azorín can portray
the villages of Castile, set on their arid heights, against backgrounds
of blue skies; Blasco Ibáñez can paint the life of the Valencians in
vivid colours with a prodigality that carries with it the taint of the
cheap, but none of them has penetrated into the popular soul. That would
require a great poet, and we have none.


I have the name of being aggressive, but, as a matter of fact, I have
scarcely ever attacked any one personally.

Many hold a radical opinion to be an insult.

In an article in _La Lectura_, Ortega y Gasset illustrates my
propensity to become offensive by recalling that as we left the Ateneo
together one afternoon, we encountered a blind man on the Calle del
Prado, singing a _jota_, whereupon I remarked: "An unspeakable

Admitted. It is a fact, but I fail to see any cause of offence. It is
only another way of saying more forcefully: "I do not like it, it does
not please me," or what you will.

I have often been surprised to find, after expressing an opinion, that I
have been insulted bitterly in reply.

At the outset of my literary career, Azorín and I shared the ill will of

When Maeztu, Azorín, Carlos del Rio and myself edited a modest magazine,
by the name of _Juventud_, Azorín and I were the ones principally
to be insulted. The experience was repeated later when we were both
associated with _El Globo_.

Azorín, perhaps, was attacked and insulted more frequently, so that I
was often in a position to act as his champion.

Some years ago I published an article in the _Nuevo Mundo_, in
which I considered Vázquez Mella and his refutation of the Kantian
philosophy, dwelling especially upon his seventeenth mathematical proof
of the existence of God. The thing was a burlesque, but a conservative
paper took issue with me, called me an atheist, a plagiarist, a drunkard
and an ass. As for being an atheist, I did not take that as an insult,
but as an honour.

Upon another occasion, I published an article about Spanish women, with
particular reference to Basque women, in which I maintained that they
sacrificed natural kindliness and sympathy on the altars of honour and
religion, whereupon the Daughters of Mary of San Sebastian made answer,
charging that I was a degenerate son of their city, who had robbed them
of their honour, which was absolutely contrary to the fact. In passing,
they suggested to the editor of the _Nuevo Mundo_ that he should not
permit me to write again for the magazine.

I wrote an article once dealing with Maceo and Cuba, whereupon a
journalist from those parts jumped up and called me a fat Basque ox.

The Catalans have also obliged me with some choice insults, which I have
found engaging. When I lectured in Barcelona in the Casa del Pueblo,
_La Veu de Catalunya_ undertook to report the affair, picturing me
as talking platitudes before an audience of professional bomb throwers
and dynamiters, and experts with the Browning gun.

Naturally, I was enchanted.

Recently, when writing for the review _España_, I had a similar
experience, which reminded me of my connection with the smaller
periodicals of fifteen years ago. Some gentlemen, mostly natives of the
provinces, approached the editor, Ortega y Gasset, with the information
that I was not a fit person to contribute to a serious magazine, as what
I wrote was not so, while my name would ruin the sale of the weekly.

These pious souls and good Christians imagined that I might need that
work in order to earn my living, so in the odour of sanctity they did
whatever lay in their power to deprive me of my means of support. Oh,
noble souls! Oh, ye of great heart! I salute you from a safe distance,
and wish you the most uncomfortable beds in the most intolerable wards
set apart for scurvy patients, in any hospital of your choosing,
throughout the world.


Fame, success, popularity, the illusion of being known, admired and
esteemed, appeal in different ways to authors. To Salvador Rueda, glory
is a triumphant entrance into Tegucigalpa, where he is taken to the
Spanish Casino, and crowned with a crown of real laurel. To Unamuno,
glory is the assurance that people will be interested in him at least a
thousand years after he is dead. And to others the only glory worth
talking about is that courted by the French writer, Rabbe, who busied
himself in Spain with la _gloire argent comptant_. Some yearn for a
large stage with pennons and salvos and banners, while others are
content with a smaller scene.

Ortega y Gasset says that to me glory reduces itself to the proportions
of an agreeable dinner, with good talk across the table.

And he is right. To mingle with pleasant, intelligent, cordial persons
is one of the more alluring sorts of fame.

There is something seductive and ingratiating about table talk when it
is spirited. A luxurious dining room, seating eight or ten guests, of
whom three or four are pretty women, one of whom should be a foreigner;
as many men, none of them aristocrats--generally speaking, aristocrats
are disagreeable--nor shall we admit artists, for they are in the same
class as the aristocrats; one's neighbour, perhaps, is a banker, or a
Jew of aquiline feature, and then the talk touches on life and on
politics, relieved with a little gallantry toward the ladies, from time
to time allowing to each his brief opportunity to shine--all this,
beyond doubt, is most agreeable.

I like, too, to spend an afternoon conversing with a number of ladies in
a comfortable drawing room, which is well heated. I visualize the
various rewards which are meted out by fame as being housed invariably
under a good roof. What is not intimate, does not appeal to me.

I have often seen Guimerá in a café on the Rambla in Barcelona, drinking
coffee at a table, alone and forlorn, in the midst of a crowd of shop
clerks and commercial travellers.

"Is that Guimerá?" I asked a Catalan journalist.


And then he told me that they had tendered him a tremendous testimonial
some months previously, which had been attended by I don't know how many
hundreds of societies, all marching with their banners.

I have no very clear idea of just what Guimerá has done, as it is many
years since I have gone to the theatre, but I know that he is considered
in Catalonia to be one of the glories of the country.

I should not care for an apotheosis, and then find myself left forlorn
and alone to take my coffee afterwards with a horde of clerks.

I may never write anything that will take the world by storm--most
probably not; but if I do, and it occurs to my fellow townsmen to
organize one of these celebrations with flags, banners and choral
societies, they need not count upon my attendance. They will not be able
to discover me even with the aid of Sherlock Holmes.

When I am old, I hope to take coffee with pleasant friends, whether it
be in a palace or a porter's lodge. I neither expect nor desire flags,
committees, nor waving banners.

Laurel does not seduce me, and you cannot do it with bunting.


As I have expressed my opinions of other authors sharply, making them
public with the proper disgust, others have done the same with me, which
is but logical and natural, especially in the case of a writer such as
myself, who holds that sympathy and antipathy are of the very essence of

My opponents and myself differ chiefly in the fact that I am more
cynical than they, and so I disclose my personal animus quite
ingenuously, which my enemies fail to do.

I hold that there are two kinds of morality; morality of work and
morality of play. The morality of work is an immoral morality, which
teaches us to take advantage of circumstances and to lie. The morality
of play, for the reason that it deals with mere futilities, is finer and
more chivalrous.

I believe that in literature and in all liberal arts, the morality
should be the morality of play, while my opponents for the most part
hold that the morality of literature should be the morality of work. I
have never, consciously at least, been influenced in my literary
opinions by practical considerations. My ideas may have been capricious,
and they are,--they may even be bad,--but they have no ulterior
practical motive.

My failure to be practical, together, perhaps, with an undue obtuseness
of perception, brings me face to face with critics of two sorts: one,
esthetic; the other, social.

My esthetic critics say to me:

"You have not perfected your style, you have not developed the technique
of your novels. You can scarcely be said to be literate."

I shrug my shoulders and reply: "Are you sure?"

My social critics reproach me for my negative and destructive views. I
do not know how to create anything, I am incapable of enthusiasm, I
cannot describe life, and so on.

This feeling seems logical enough, if it is sincere, if it is honest,
and I accept it as such, and it does not offend me.

But, as some of my esthetic critics tell me: "You are not an artist, you
do not know how to write," without feeling any deep conviction on the
subject, but rather fearing that perhaps I may be an artist after all
and that at last somebody may come to think so, so among my critics who
pose as defenders of society, there are those who are influenced by
motives which are purely utilitarian.

I am reminded of servants shouting at a man picking flowers over the
garden wall, or an apple from the orchard as he passes, who raise their
voices as high as possible so as to make their officiousness known.

They shout so that their masters will hear.

"How dare that rascal pick flowers from the garden? How dare he defy us
and our masters? Shall a beggar, who is not respectable, tell us that
our laws are not laws, that our honours are not honours, and that we are
a gang of accomplished idiots?"

Yes, that is just what I tell them, and I shall continue to do so as
long as it is the truth.

Shout, you lusty louts in gaudy liveries, bark you little lap-dogs,
guard the gates, you government inspectors and carabineers! I shall look
into your garden, which is also my garden, I shall make off with
anything from it that I am able, and I shall say what I please.


A certain Basque writer, one Señor de Loyarte, who is a member of
several academies, and Royal Commissioner of Education, assails me
violently upon social grounds in a book which he has published, although
the attack is veiled as purely literary.

Señor de Loyarte is soporific as a general rule, but in his polite
sortie against me, he is more amusing than is usual. His malice is so
keen that it very nearly causes him to appear intelligent.

In literature, Señor de Loyarte--and why should Señor de Loyarte not be
associated with literature--presents the figure of a fat, pale, flabby
boy in a priests' school, skulking under the skirts of a Jesuit Father.

Señor de Loyarte, like those little, chubby-winged cherubs on sacristy
ceilings, shakes his arrowlet at me and lets fling a _billet doux_.

Señor de Loyarte says I smack of the cadaver, that I am a plagiarist, an
atheist, anti-religious, anti-patriotic, and more to boot.

I shall not reply for it may be true. Yet it is also true that Señor de
Loyarte's noble words will please his noble patrons, from whom, perhaps,
he may receive applause even more substantial than the pat on the
shoulder of a Jesuit Father, or the smile of every good Conservative,
who is a defender of the social order. His book is an achievement which
should induct Señor de Loyarte into membership in several more
academies. Señor de Loyarte is already a Corresponding Member of the
Spanish Academy, or of the Academy of History, I am not quite sure
which; but they are all the same. Speaking of history, I should be
interested to know who did first introduce the sponge.

Señor de Loyarte is destined to be a member, a member of academies all
his life.



Diogenes Laertius tells us that when Zeno consulted the oracle as to
what he should do in order to attain happiness in life, the deity
replied that he should assimilate himself with the dead. Having
understood, he applied himself exclusively to the study of books.

Thus speaks Laertius, in the translation of Don José Ortíz y Sanz. I
confess that I should not have understood the oracle. However, without
consulting any oracle, I have devoted myself for some time to reading
books, whether ancient and modern, both out of curiosity and in order to
learn something of life.


For a long time, I thought that Shakespeare was a writer who was unique
and different from all others. It seemed to me that the difference
between him and other writers was one of quality rather than of
quantity. I felt that, as a man, Shakespeare was of a different kind of
humanity; but I do not think so now. Shakespeare is no more the
quintessence of the world's literature than Plato and Kant are the
quintessence of universal philosophy. I once admired the philosophy and
characters of the author of Hamlet; when I read him today, what most
impresses me is his rhetoric, and, above all, his high spirit.

Cervantes is not very sympathetic to me. He is tainted with the perfidy
of the man who has made a pact with the enemy (with the Church, the
aristocracy, with those in power), and then conceals the fact.
Philosophically, in spite of his enthusiasm for the Renaissance, he
appears vulgar and pedestrian to me, although he towers above all his
contemporaries on account of the success of a single invention, that of
Don Quixote and Sancho, which is to literature what the discovery of
Newton was to Physics.

As for Molière, he is a poor fellow, who never attains the exuberance of
Shakespeare, nor the invention that immortalizes Cervantes. But his
taste is better than Shakespeare's and he is more social, more modern
than Cervantes. The half-century or more that separates the work of
Cervantes from that of Molière, is not sufficient to explain this
modernity. Between the Spain of _Quixote_ and the France of _Le
Bourgeois Gentilhomme_, lies something deeper than time. Descartes
and Gassendi had lived in France, while, on the other hand, the seed of
Saint Ignatius Loyola lay germinating in the Spain of Cervantes.


A French journalist who visited my house during the summer, remarked:

"The ideas were great in the French Revolution; it was not the men." I
replied: "I believe that the men of the French Revolution were great,
but not the ideas."

Of all the philosophical literature of the pre-revolutionary period,
what remains today?

What books exert influence? In France, excerpts from Montesquieu,
Diderot and Rousseau are still read in the schools, but outside of
France, they are read nowhere.

Only an extraordinary person would go away for the summer with
Montesquieu's _Esprit des Lois_, or Jean Jacques Rousseau's
_Emile_ in his grip. Montesquieu is demonstration of the fact that
a book cannot live entirely by virtue of correctness of style.

Of all the writers who enjoyed such fame in the eighteenth century, the
only one who will bear reading today is Voltaire--the Voltaire of the
_Dictionnaire Philosophique_ and of the novels.

Diderot, whom the French consider a great man, is of no interest
whatsoever to the modern mind, at least to the mind which is not French.
He is almost as dull as Rousseau. _La Religieuse_ is an utterly
false little book. Some years ago I loaned a copy to a young lady who
had just come from a convent. "I have never seen anything like this,"
she said to me. "It is a fantasy with no relation to the truth." That
was my idea. _Jacques, le fataliste_ is tiresome; _Le Neveu de
Rameau_ gives at first the impression that it is going to amount to
something, to something powerful such as the _Satiricon_ of
Petronius, or _El Buscón_ of Quevedo; but at the end, it is

The only writer of the pre-revolutionary period who can be read today
with any pleasure--and this, perhaps, is because he does not attempt
anything--is Chamfort. His characters and anecdotes are sufficiently
highly flavoured to defy the action of time.



If a militia of genius should be formed on Parnassus, Goethe would be
the drum-major. He is so great, so majestic, so serene, so full of
talent, so abounding in virtue, and yet, so antipathetic!


A skin of Lacrymae Christi that has turned sour. At times the good
Viscount drops molasses into the skin to take away the taste of vinegar;
at other times, he drops in more vinegar to take away the sweet taste of
the molasses. He is both moth-eaten and sublime.

_Victor Hugo_

Victor Hugo, the most talented of rhetoricians! Victor Hugo, the most
exquisite of vulgarians! Victor Hugo--mere common sense dressed up as


The inventor of a psychological automaton moved by clock work.


A nightmare, a dream produced by indigestion, a chill, rare acuteness,
equal obtuseness, a delirium of splendours, cheap hardware, of pretence
and bad taste. Because of his ugliness, because of his genius, because
of his immorality, the Danton of printers' ink.


A mysterious sphinx who makes one tremble with lynx-like eyes, the
goldsmith of magical wonders.


At once a mystic and a sad clown. The Saint Vincent de Paul of the
loosened string, the Saint Francis of Assisi of the London Streets.
Everything is gesticulation, and the gesticulations are ambiguous. When
we think he is going to weep, he laughs; when we think he is going to
laugh, he cries. A remarkable genius who does everything he can to make
himself appear puny, yet who is, beyond doubt, very great.

_Larra_ [Footnote: A Spanish poet and satirist (1809-37), famous
under the pseudonym of Figaro. He committed suicide. The poet Zorrilla
first came into prominence through some verses read at his tomb.]

A small, trained tiger shut up in a tiny cage. He has all the tricks of
a cat; he mews like one, he lets you stroke his back, and there are
times when his fiercer instincts show in his eyes. Then you realize that
he is thinking: "How I should love to eat you up!"



Flaubert is a heavy-footed animal. It is plain that he is a Norman. All
his work has great specific gravity. He disgusts me. One of Flaubert's
master strokes was the conception of the character of Homais, the
apothecary, in _Madame Bovary_. I cannot see, however, that Homais
is any more stupid than Flaubert himself, and he may even be less so.

_The Giants_

The good Zola, vigorous, dull and perspiring, dubbed his contemporaries,
the French naturalistic novelists, "Giants." What an imagination was
possessed by Zola!

These "Giants" were none other than the Goncourts, whose insignificance
approached at times imbecility, and in addition, Alphonse Daudet, with
the air of a cheap comedian and an armful of mediocre books--a truly
French diet, feeble, but well seasoned. These poor Giants, of whom Zola
would talk, have become so weak and shrunken with time, that nobody is
able any longer to make them out, even as dwarfs.


The Spanish realists of the same period are the height of the
disagreeable. The most repugnant of them all is Pereda. When I read him,
I feel as if I were riding on a balky, vicious mule, which proceeds at
an uncomfortable little trot, and then, all of a sudden, cuts stilted
capers like a circus horse.



One hundred years hence Dostoievsky's appearance in literature will be
hailed as one of the most extraordinary events of the nineteenth
century. Among the spiritual fauna of Europe, his place will be that of
the Diplodocus.


A number of years ago I was in the habit of visiting the Ateneo, and I
used to argue there with the habitués, who in general have succeeded in
damming up the channels through which other men receive ideas.

"To my mind, Tolstoi is a Greek," I observed. "He is serene, clear, his
characters are god-like; all they think of are their love affairs, their
passions. They are never called upon to face the acute problem of
subsistence, which is fundamental with us."

"Utter nonsense! There is nothing Greek about Tolstoi," declared

Some years later at a celebration in honour of Tolstoi, Anatole France
chanced to remark: "Tolstoi is a Greek."

When this fell from Anatole France, the obstruction in the channels
through which these gentlemen of the Ateneo received their ideas ceased
for the moment to exist, and they began to believe that, after all,
Tolstoi might very well have something of the Greek in him.


_Sainte Beuve_

Sainte Beuve writes as if he had always said the last word, as if he
were precisely at the needle of the scales. Yet I feel that this writer
is not as infallible as he thinks. His interest lies in his anecdote, in
his malevolent insinuation, in his bawdry. Beyond these, he has the same
Mediterranean features as the rest of us.


Hippolyte Taine is also one of those persons who think they understand
everything. And there are times when he understands nothing. His
_History of English Literature_, which makes an effort to be broad
and generous, is one of the pettiest, most niggardly histories ever
written anywhere. His articles on Shakespeare, Walter Scott and Dickens
have been fabricated by a French professor, which is to say that they
are among the most wooden productions of the universities of Europe.


He impresses me as the Prince of Upstarts, grandiloquent and at the same
time unctuous, a General in a Salvation Army of Art, or a monk who is a
devotee of an esthetic Doctrine which has been drawn up by a Congress of


The esthetic theory of Benedetto Croce has proved another delusion to
me. Rather than an esthetic theory, it is a study of esthetic theories.
As in most Latin productions, the fundamental question is not discussed
therein, but the method of approaching that question.

_Clarin_ [Footnote: Pseudonym of Leopoldo Alas, a Spanish critic
and novelist of the transition, born in Asturias, whose influence was
widely felt in Spanish letters. He died in 1905.]

I have a poor opinion of Clarin, although some of my friends regard him
with admiration. As a man, he must have been envious; as a novelist, he
is dull and unhappy; as a critic, I am not certain that he was ever in
the right.



A thirst for some knowledge of philosophy resulted in consulting Dr.
Letamendi's book on pathology during my student days. I also purchased
the works of Kant, Fichte, and Schopenhauer in the cheap editions which
were published by Zozaya. The first of these that I read was Fichte's
_Science of Knowledge_, of which I understood nothing. It stirred
in me a veritable indignation against both author and translator. Was
philosophy nothing but mystification, as it is assumed to be by artists
and shop clerks?

Reading _Parerga and Paralipomena_ reconciled me to philosophy.
After that I bought in French _The Critique of Pure Reason_, _The
World as Will and Idea_, and a number of other books.

How was it that I, who am gifted with but little tenacity of purpose,
mustered up perseverance enough to read difficult books for which I was
without preparation? I do not know, but the fact is that I read them.

Years after this initiation into philosophy, I began reading the works
of Nietzsche, which impressed me greatly.

Since then I have picked at this and that in order to renew my
philosophic store, but without success. Some books and authors will not
agree with me, and I have not dared to venture others. I have had a
volume of Hegel's _Logic_ on my table for a long time. I have
looked at it, I have smelled of it, but courage fails me.

Yet I am attracted to metaphysics more than to any other phase of
philosophy. Political philosophy, sociology and the common sense schools
please me least. Hobbes, Locke, Bentham, Comte and Spencer I have never
liked at all. Even their Utopias, which ought to be amusing, bore me
profoundly, and this has been true from Plato's _Republic_ to
Kropotkin's _Conquest of Bread_ and Wells's _A Modern Utopia_.
Nor could I ever become interested in the pseudo-philosophy of
anarchism. One of the books which have disappointed me the most is Max
Stirner's _Ego and His Own_.

Psychology is a science which I should like to know. I have therefore
skimmed through the standard works of Wundt and Ziehen. After reading
them, I came to the conclusion that the psychology which I am seeking,
day by day and every day, is not to be found in these treatises. It is
contained rather in the writings of Nietzsche and the novels of
Dostoievski. In the course of time, I may succeed, perhaps, in entering
the more abstract domains of the science.



Miss Blimber, the school teacher in Dickens's _Dombey and Son_,
could have died happily had she known Cicero. Even if such a thing were
possible I should have no great desire to know Cicero, but I should be
glad to listen to a lecture by Zeno in the portico of the Poecilé at
Athens, or to Epicurus's meditations in his garden.

My ignorance of history has prevented me from becoming deeply interested
in Greece, although now this begins to embarrass me, as a curiosity
about and sympathy for classical art stirs within me. If I were a young
man and had the leisure, I might even begin the study of Greek.

As it is, I feel that there are two Greeces: one of statues and temples,
which is academic and somewhat cold; the other of philosophers and
tragedians, who convey to my mind more of an impression of life and

Apart from the Greek, which I know but fragmentarily, I have no great
admiration for ancient literatures. The _Old Testament_ never
aroused any devotion in me. Except for _Ecclesiastes_ and one or
two of the shorter books, it impresses me as repulsively cruel and

Among the Greeks, I have enjoyed Homer's _Odyssey_ and the comedies
of Aristophanes. I have read also Herodotus, Plutarch and Diogenes
Laertius. I am not an admirer of academic, well written books, so I
prefer Diogenes Laertius to Plutarch. Plutarch impresses me as having
composed and arranged his narratives; not so Diogenes Laertius. Plutarch
forces the morality of his personages to the fore; Diogenes gives
details of both the good and the bad in his. Plutarch is solid and
systematic; Diogenes is lighter and lacks system. I prefer Diogenes
Laertius to Plutarch, and if I were especially interested in any of the
illustrious ancients of whom they write, I should vastly prefer the
letters of the men themselves, if any existed, or otherwise the gossip
of their tentmakers or washerwomen, to any lives written of them by
either Diogenes Laertius or Plutarch.


When I turned to the composition of historical novels, I desired to
ascertain if the historical method had been reduced to a system. I read
Lucian's _Instructions for Writing History_, an essay with the same
title, or with a very similar one, by the Abbé Mably, some essays by
Simmel, besides a book by a German professor, Ernst Bernheim,
_Lehrbuch der historischen Methode_.

I next read and re-read the Roman historians Julius Caesar, Tacitus,
Sallust and Suetonius.


All these Roman historians no doubt were worthy gentlemen, but they
create an atmosphere of suspicion. When reading them, you suspect that
they are not always telling the whole truth. I read Sallust and feel
that he is lying; he has composed his narrative like a novel.

In the _Mémorial de Sainte Hélène_, it is recorded that on March
26, 1816, Napoleon read the conspiracy of Catiline in the _Roman
History_. The Emperor observed that he was unable to understand what
Catiline was driving at. No matter how much of a bandit he may have
been, he must have had some object, some social purpose in view.

The observation of this political genius is one which must occur to all
who read Sallust's book. How could Catiline have secured the support of
the most brilliant men of Rome, among them of Julius Caesar, if his only
plan and object had been to loot and burn Rome? It is not logical.
Evidently Sallust lies, as governmental writers in Spain lie today when
they speak of Lerroux or Ferrer, or as the republican supporters of
Thiers lied in 1871, characterizing the Paris Commune.


Tacitus is another great Roman historian who is theatrical,
melodramatic, solemn, full of grand gestures. He also creates an
atmosphere of suspicion, of falsehood. Tacitus has something of the
inquisitor in him, of the fanatic in the cause of virtue. He is a man of
austere moral attitude, which is a pose that a thoroughgoing scamp finds
it easy to assume.

A temperament such as that of Tacitus is fatal to theatrical peoples
like the Italians, Spaniards, and French of the South. From it springs
that type of Sicilian, Calabrian, and Andalusian politician who is a
great lawyer and an eloquent orator, who declaims publicly in the forum,
and then reaches an understanding privately with bandits and thugs.


Suetonius, although deficient both in the pomp and sententiousness of
Tacitus, makes no attempt to compose his story, nor to impart moral
instruction, but tells us what he knows, simply. His _Lives of the
Twelve Caesars_ is the greatest collection of horrors in history. You
leave it with the imagination perturbed, scrutinizing yourself to
discover whether you may not be yourself a hog or a wild beast.
Suetonius gives us an account of men rather than a history of the
politics of emperors, and surely this method is more interesting and
veracious. I place more faith in the anecdotes which grow up about an
historical figure than I do in his laws.

Polybius is a mixture of scepticism and common sense. He is what Bayle,
Montesquieu and Voltaire will come to be centuries hence.

As far as Caesar's _Commentaries_ are concerned, in spite of the
fact that they have been manipulated very skilfully, they are one of the
most satisfying and instructive books that can be read.


I have very little knowledge of the historians of the Renaissance or of
those prior to the French Revolution. Apart from the chroniclers of
individual exploits, such as López de Ayala, Brantôme, and the others,
they are wholly colourless, and either pseudo-Roman or pseudo-Greek.
Even Machiavelli has a personal, Italian side, which is mocking and
incisive--and this is all that is worth while in him--and he has a
pretentious pseudo-Roman side, which is unspeakably tiresome.

Generally considered, the more carefully composed and smoothly varnished
the history, the duller it will be found; while the more personal
revelations it contains, the more engaging. Most readers today, for
example, prefer Bernal Díaz del Castillo's _True History of the
Conquest of New Spain_ to Solis's _History of the Conquest of
Mexico_. One is the book of a soldier, who had a share in the deeds
described, and who reveals himself for what he is, with all his
prejudices, vanities and arrogance; the other is a scholar's attempt to
imitate a classic history and to maintain a monotonous music throughout
his paragraphs.

Practically all the historians who have followed the French Revolution
have individual character, and some have too much of it, as has Carlyle.
They distort their subject until it becomes a pure matter of fantasy, or
mere literature, or sinks even to the level of a family discussion.

Macaulay's moral pedantry, Thiers's cold and repulsive cretinism, the
melodramatic, gesticulatory effusiveness of Michelet are all typical

Historical bazaars _à la_ Cesare Cantù may be put on one side, as
belonging to an inferior genre. They remind me of those great nineteenth
century world's fairs, vast, miscellaneous and exhausting.

As for the German historians, they are not translated, so I do not know
them. I have read only a few essays of Simmel, which I think extremely
keen, and Stewart Chamberlain's book upon the foundations of the
nineteenth century, which, if the word France were to be substituted for
the word Germany, might easily have been the production of an advanced
nationalist of the _Action Française_.




The celebrated Vicomte de Chateaubriand, after flaunting an ancestry of
princes and kings in his _Memoires d'outre-tombe_, then turns about
and tells us that he attaches no importance to such matters.

I shall do the same. I intend to furbish up our family history and
mythology, and then I shall assert that I attach no importance to them.
And, what is more, I shall be telling the truth.

My researches into the life of Aviraneta [Footnote: A kinsman of Baroja
and protagonist of his series of historical novels under the general
title of _Memoirs of a Man of Action_.] have drawn me of late to
the genealogical field, and I have looked into my family, which is
equivalent to compounding with tradition and even with reaction.

I have unearthed three family myths: the Goñi myth, the Zornoza myth,
and the Alzate myth.

The Goñi myth, vouched for by an aunt of mine who died in San Sebastian
at an age of ninety or more, established, according to her, that she was
a descendant of Don Teodosio de Goñi, a Navarrese _caballero_ who
lived in the time of Witiza, and who, after killing his father and
mother at the instigation of the devil, betook himself to Mount Aralar
wearing an iron ring about his neck, and dragging a chain behind him,
thus pilloried to do penance. One day, a terrible dragon appeared before
him during a storm.

Don Teodosio lifted up his soul unto God, and thereupon the Archangel
Saint Michael revealed himself to him, in his dire extremity, and broke
his chains, in commemoration of which event Don Teodosio caused to be
erected the chapel of San Miguel in Excelsis on Mount Aralar.

There were those who endeavoured to convince my aunt that in the time of
this supposititious Don Teodosio, which was the early part of the eighth
century, surnames had not come into use in the Basque country, and even,
indeed, that there were at that time no Christians there--in short they
maintained that Don Teodosio was a solar myth; but they were not able to
convince my aunt. She had seen the chapel of San Miguel on Aralar, and
the cave in which the dragon lived, and a document wherein Charles V.
granted to Juan de Goñi the privilege of renaming his house the Palace
of San Miguel, as well as of adding a dragon to his coat of arms,
besides a cross in a red field, and a _broken_ chain.

The Zornoza myth was handed down through my paternal grandmother of that

I remember having heard this lady say when I was a child, that her
family might be traced in a direct line to the chancellor Pero López de
Ayala, and, I know not through what lateral branches, also to St.
Francis Xavier.

My grandmother vouched for the fact that her father had sold the
documents and parchments in which these details were set forth, to a
titled personage from Madrid.

The Zornozas boast an escutcheon which is embellished with a band, a
number of wolves, and a legend whose import I do not recall.

Indeed, wolves occur in all the escutcheons of the Baroja, Alzate and
Zornoza families, in so far as I have been able to discover, and I take
them to be more or less authentic. We have wolves passant, wolves
rampant, and wolves mordant. The Goñi escutcheon also displays hearts.
If I become rich, which I do not anticipate, I shall have wolves and
hearts blazoned on the doors of my dazzling automobile, which will not
prevent me from enjoying myself hugely inside of it.

Turning to the Alzate myth, it too runs back to antiquity and the
primitive struggles of rival families of Navarre and Labourt. The
Alzates have been lords of Vera ever since the fourteenth century.

The legend of the Alzates of Vera de Navarra relates that one Don
Rodrigo, master of the village in the fifteenth century, fell in love
with a daughter of the house of Urtubi, in France, near Urruña, and
married her. Don Rodrigo went to live in Urtubi and became so thoroughly
gallicized that he never cared to return to Spain, so the people of Vera
banded together, dispossessed him of his honours and dignity, and
sequestrated his lands.

In the early part of the nineteenth century, my great-grandfather,
Sebastián Ignacio de Alzate, was among those who assembled at Zubieta in
1813 to take part in the rebuilding of San Sebastian, and this
great-grandfather was uncle to Don Eugenio de Aviraneta, a good relative
of mine, protagonist of my latest books.

St. Francis Xavier, Don Teodosio de Goñi, Pero López de Ayala,
Aviraneta--a saint, a revered worthy, an historian, a conspirator--these
are our family gods.

Now let me take my stand with Chateaubriand as attaching no importance
to such things.


Baroja is a hamlet in the province of Alava in the district of
Peñacerrada. According to Fernández Guerra, it is an Iberian name
derived from Asiatic Iberia. I believe that I have read in Campión that
the word Baroja is compounded from the Celtic _bar_, meaning
mountain, and the Basque _otza, ocha_ meaning cold. In short, a
cold mountain.

The district of Peñacerrada, which includes Baroja, is an austere land,
covered with intricate mountain ranges which are clad with trees and
scrub live oaks.

Hawks abound. In his treatise on falconry, Zúñiga mentions the Bahari
falcon, propagated principally among the mountains of Peñacerrada.

My ancestors originally called themselves Martínez de Baroja. One Martín
had a son who was known as Martínez. This Martínez (son of Martín)
doubtless left the village, and as there were others of the name
Martínez (sons of Martín), they dubbed him the Martínez of Baroja, or
Martínez de Baroja.

The Martínez de Barojas lived in that country for many years; they were
hidalgos, Christians of old stock. And there is still a family of the
name in Peñacerrada.

One Martínez de Baroja, by name Juan, who lived in the village of
Samiano, upon becoming outraged because of an attempt to force him to
pay tribute to the Count of Salinas--in those days a very natural source
of offence--took an appeal in the year 1616 from a ruling of the
Prosecuting Attorney of His Majesty and the Alcaldes and Regidors of the
Earldom of Treviño, and he was sustained by the Chamber of Hidalgos at
Valladolid, which decided in his favour in a decree dated the eighth day
of the month of August, 1619.

This same hidalgo, Juan Martínez de Baroja, moved the enforcement of
this decree, as is affirmed by a writ of execution which is inscribed on
forty-five leaves of parchment, to which is attached a leaden seal
pendant from a cord of silk, at the end of which may be found the
stipulations of the judgment entered against the Municipality and
Corporation of the Town and Earldom of Treviño and the Village of

The Martínez de Barojas, despite the fact that they sprang from the land
of the falcon and the hawk, in temper must have been dark, heavy, rough.
They were members of the Brotherhood of San Martín de Peñacerrada, which
apparently was of great account in those regions, besides being regidors
and alcaldes of the Santa Hermandad, a rural police and judicial
organization which extended throughout the country.

In the eighteenth century, one of the family, my great-grandfather
Rafael, doubtless possessing more initiative, or having more of the hawk
in him than the others, grew tired of ploughing up the earth, and left
the village, turning pharmacist, setting up in 1803 at Oyarzun, in
Guipúzcoa. This Rafael shortened his name and signed himself Rafael de

Don Rafael must have been a man of modern sympathies, for he bought a
printing press and began to issue pamphlets and even occasional books.

Evidently Don Rafael was also a man of radical ideas. He published a
newspaper at San Sebastian in 1822 and 1823, which he called _El
Liberal Guipúzcoano_. I have seen only one copy of this, and that was
in the National Library.

That this newspaper was extremely liberal, may be judged by the articles
that were reprinted from it in _El Espectador_, the Masonic journal
published at Madrid during the period. Don Rafael had connections both
with constitutionalists and members of the Gallic party. There must have
been antecedents of a liberal character in our family, as Don Rafael's
uncle, Don Juan José de Baroja, at first a priest at Pipaon and later at
Vitoria, had been enrolled in the Basque _Sociedad Económica_.

Don Rafael had two sons, Ignacio Ramón and Pío. They settled in San
Sebastian as printers. Pío was my grandfather.

My second family name, Nessi, as I have said before, comes out of
Lombardy and the city of Como.

The Nessis of Como fled from Austrian rule, and came to Spain, probably
peddling mousetraps and _santi boniti barati_.

One of the Nessis, who survived until a short time ago, always said that
the family had been very comfortably off in Lombardy, where one of his
relatives, Guiseppe Nessi, a doctor, had been professor in the
University of Pavia during the eighteenth century, besides being major
in the Austrian Army.

As mementos of the Italian branch of the family, I still preserve a few
views of Lake Como in my house, a crude image of the Christ of the
Annunziatta, stamped on cloth, and a volume of a treatise on surgery by
Nessi, which bears the _imprimatur_ of the Inquisition at Venice.




I was born in San Sebastian on the 28th of December, 1872. So I am not
only a Guipúzcoan but a native of San Sebastian. The former I regard as
an honour, but the latter means very little to me.

I should prefer to have been born in a mountain hamlet or in a small
coast town, rather than in a city of summer visitors and hotel keepers.

Garat, who was a most conventional person who lived in Bayonne, always
used to maintain that he came from Ustariz. I might say that I am from
Vera del Bidasoa, but I should not deceive myself.

There are several reasons why I dislike San Sebastian:

In the first place, the city is not beautiful, when it might well be so.
It is made up of straight streets which are all alike, together with two
or three monuments that are horrible. The general construction is
miserable and shoddy. Although excellent stone abounds in the
neighbourhood, no one has had the sense to erect anything either noble
or dignified. Cheap houses confront the eye on all sides, whether simple
or pretentious. Whenever the citizens of San Sebastian raise their
hands--and in this they are abetted by the _Madrileños_--they do
something ugly. They have defaced Monte Igueldo already, and now they
are defacing the Castillo. Tomorrow, they will manage somehow to spoil
the sea, the sky, and the air.

As for the spirit of the city, it is lamentable. There is no interest in
science, art, literature, history, politics, or anything else. All that
the inhabitants think about are the King, the Queen Regent, yachts, bull
fights, and the latest fashions in trousers.

San Sebastian is a conglomeration of parvenus and upstarts from
Pamplona, Saragossa, Valladolid, Chile and Chuquisaca, who are anxious
to show themselves off. Some do this by walking alongside of the King,
or by taking coffee with a famous bull-fighter, or by bowing to some
aristocrat. The young men of San Sebastian are among the most worthless
in Spain. I have always looked upon them as _infra_ human.

As for the ladies, many of them might be taken for princesses in summer,
but their winter tertulias are on a level with a porter's lodge where
they play _julepe_. It is a card game, but the word means dose, and
Madame Recamier would have fainted at the mention of it.

When I observe these parvenus' attempts to shine, I think to myself:
"The ostentation of the freshman year at college. How unfortunate that
some of us have moved on to the doctorate!"

No one reads in San Sebastian. They run over the society news, and then
drop the paper for fear their brains will begin to smoke.

This city, imagining itself to be so cultivated, although it really is a
new town, is under the domination of a few Jesuit fathers, who, like
most of the present days sons of Loyola, are coarse, heavy and wholly
lacking in real ability.

The Jesuit manages the women, which is not a very difficult thing to do,
as he holds the leading strings of the sexual life in his hands. In
addition he influences the men.

He assists the young who are of good social standing, who belong to
distinguished families, and brings about desirable matches. The poor can
do anything they like. They are at liberty to eat, to get drunk, to do
whatever they will except to read. These unhappy, timid, torpid clerks
and hangers-on imagine they are free men whenever they get drunk. They
do not see that they are like the Redskins, whom the Yankees poisoned
with alcohol so as to hold them in check.

I inspected a club installed in a house in the older part of the city
some years ago.

A sign on one door read "Library." When it was opened, I was shown,
laughing, a room filled with bottles.

"If a Jesuit could see this, he would be in ecstasy," I exclaimed. "Yes,
replacing books with wines and liquors! What a business for the sons of
Saint Ignatius!"

In spite of all its display, all its tinsel, all its Jesuitism, all its
bad taste, San Sebastian will become an important, dignified city within
a very few years. When that time comes, the author who has been born
there, will not prefer to hail from some hamlet buried in the mountains,
rather than from the capital of Guipúzcoa. But I myself prefer it. I
have no city, and I hold myself to be strictly extra-urban.


My father, Serafín Baroja y Zornoza, was a mining engineer, who wrote
books both in Castilian and Basque, and he, too, came from San
Sebastian. My mother's name is Carmen Nessi y Goñi. She was born in

I should be a very good man. My father was a good man, although he was
capricious and arbitrary, and my mother is a good woman, firmer and more
positive in her manifestations of virtue. Yet, I am not without
reputation for ferocity, which, perhaps, is deserved.

I do not know why I believed for a long while that I had been born in
the Calle del Puyuelo in San Sebastian, where we once lived. The street
is well within the old town, and truly ugly and forlorn. The mere idea
of it was and is distasteful to me.

When I complained to my mother about my birthplace and its want of
attractiveness, she replied that I was born in a beautiful house near
the esplanade of La Zurriola, fronting on the Calle de Oquendo, which
belonged to my grandmother and looked out upon the sea, although the
house does so no longer, as a theatre has been erected directly in
front. I am glad that I was born near the sea, because it suggests
freedom and change.

My paternal grandmother, Doña Concepción Zornoza, was a woman of
positive ideas and somewhat eccentric. She was already old when I knew
her. She had mortgaged several houses which she owned in the city in
order to build the house which was occupied by us in La Zurriola.

Her plan was to furnish it and rent it to King Amadeo. Before Amadeo
arrived at San Sebastian, however, the Carlist war broke out, and the
monarch of the house of Savoy was compelled to abdicate, and my
grandmother to abandon her plans.

My earliest recollection is the Carlist attempt to bombard San
Sebastian. It is a memory which has now grown very dim, and what I saw
has been confused with what I have heard. I have a confused recollection
of the bringing in of soldiers on stretchers, and of having peeped over
the wall of a little cemetery near the city, in which corpses were laid
out, still unburied.

As I have said, my father was a mining engineer, but during the war he
was engaged in teaching natural history at the Institute. I have no idea
how this came about. He was also one of the Liberal volunteers.

I have a vague idea that one night I was taken from my bed, wrapped up
in a mantle, and carried to a chalet on the Concha, belonging to one
Errazu, who was a relative of my mother's. We lived there for a time in
the cellar of the chalet.

Three shells, which were known in those days as cucumbers, dropped on
the house, and wrecked the roof, making a great hole in the wall which
separated our garden from the next.


Monsignor was a handsome yellow cat belonging to us while we were living
in the cellar of Señor Errazu's chalet.

From what I have since learned, his name was a tribute to the
extraordinary reputation enjoyed at that period by Monsignor Simeoni.

Monsignor--I am referring to the yellow cat--was intelligent. A bell
surmounted the Castillo de la Mota at San Sebastian, by whose side was
stationed a look-out. When the look-out spied the flash of Carlist guns,
he rang the bell, and then the townspeople retired into the doorways and

Monsignor was aware of the relation of the bell to the cannonading, so
when the bell rang, he promptly withdrew into the house, even going so
far sometimes as to creep under the beds.

My father had friends who were not above going down into our cellar on
such occasions so as better to observe the manoeuvres of the cat.


After the war, I used to stroll as a boy with my mother and brothers to
the Castillo de la Mota on Sundays. It was truly a beautiful walk, which
will soon be ruined utterly by the citizens of San Sebastian. We looked
out to sea from the Castillo and then we talked with the guard. We often
met a lunatic there, who was in the care of a servant. As soon as he
caught sight of us children, the lunatic was happy at once, but if a
woman came near him, he ran away and flattened himself against the
walls, kicking and crying out: "Blind dog! Blind dog!"

I remember also having seen a young woman, who was insane, in a great
house which we used to visit in those days at Loyola. She gesticulated
and gazed continually into a deep well, where a half moon of black water
was visible far below. These lunatics, one at the Castillo and the other
in that great house, haunted my imagination as a child.


My latest recollection of San Sebastian is of a hawk, which we
brought home to our house from the Castillo.

Some soldiers gave us the hawk when it was still very young, and it grew
up and became accustomed to living indoors. We fed it snails, which it
gulped down as if they were bonbons.

When it was full-grown, it escaped to the courtyard and attacked our
chickens, to say nothing of all the cats of the neighbourhood. It hid
under the beds during thundershowers.

When we moved away from San Sebastian, we were obliged to leave the hawk
behind. We carried him up to the Castillo one day, turned him loose, and
off he flew.


We moved from San Sebastian to Madrid. My father had received an
appointment to the Geographic and Political Institute. We lived on the
Calle Real, just beyond the Glorieta de Bilbao, in a street which is now
a prolongation of the Calle de Fuencarral.

Opposite our house, there was a piece of high ground, which has not yet
been removed, which went by the name of "_La Era del Mico_," or
"The Monkey Field." Swings and merry-go-rounds were scattered all over
it, so that the diversions of "_La Era del Mico_," together with
the two-wheeled calashes and chaises which were still in use in those
days, and the funerals passing continually through the street, were the
amusements which were provided ready-made for us, as we looked down from
our balcony.

Two sensational executions took place while we lived here--those of the
regicide Otero and of Oliva--one following closely on the heels of the
other. We heard the _Salve_, or prayer, which is sung by the
prisoners for the criminal awaiting death, hawked about us then on the


From Madrid we went to Pamplona. Pamplona was still a curious city
maintaining customs which would have been appropriate to a state of war.
The draw-bridges were raised at night, only one, or perhaps two, gates
being left open, I am not certain which.

Pamplona proved an amusing place for a small boy. There were the walls
with their glacis, their sentry boxes, their cannon; there were the
gates, the river, the cathedral and the surrounding quarters--all of
them very attractive to us.

We studied at the Institute and committed all sorts of pranks like the
other students. We played practical jokes in the houses of the canons,
and threw stones at the bishop's palace, many of the windows of which
were already paneless and forlorn.

We also made wild excursions to the roof of our house and to those of
other houses in the neighbourhood, prying about the garrets and peering
down over the cornices into the courtyards.

Once we seized a stuffed eagle, cherished by a neighbour, hauled it to
the attic, pulled it through the skylight to the roof, and flung it down
into the street, creating a genuine panic among the innocent passers-by,
when they saw the huge bird drop at their feet.

One of my most vivid memories of Pamplona is seeing a criminal on his
way to execution passing our house, attired in a round cap and yellow

It was one of the sights which has impressed me most. Later in the
afternoon, driven by curiosity, knowing that the man who had been
garroted must be still on the scaffold, I ventured alone to see him, and
remained there examining him closely for a long time. When I returned
home that night, I was unable to sleep because of the impression he had


Many other vivid memories of Pamplona remain with me, never to be
forgotten. I remember a lad of our own age who died, leaping from the
wall, and then there were our adventures along the river.

Another terrible memory was associated with the cathedral. I had begun
my first year of Latin, and was exactly nine at the time.

We had come out of the Institute, and were watching a funeral.
Afterwards, three or four of the boys, among whom were my brother
Ricardo and myself, entered the cathedral. The echo of the responses was
ringing in my ears and I hummed them, as I wandered about the aisles.

Suddenly, a black shadow shot from behind one of the confessionals,
pounced upon me and seized me around the neck with both hands, almost
choking me. I was paralyzed with fear. It proved to be a fat, greasy
canon, by name Don Tirso Larequi.

"What is your name?" he shouted, shaking me vigorously.

I could not answer because of my fright.

"What is his name?" the priest demanded of the other boys.

"His name is Antonio García," replied my brother Ricardo, coolly.

"Where does he live?"

"In the Calle de Curia, Number 14."

There was no such place, of course.

"I shall see your father at once," shouted the priest, and he rushed out
of the cathedral like a bull.

My brother and I then made our escape through the cloister.

This red-faced priest, fat and ferocious, rushing out of the dark to
choke a nine-year-old boy, has always been to me a symbol of the
Catholic religion.

This experience of my boyhood partly explains my anti-clericalism. I
recall Don Tirso with an undying hate, and were he still alive--I have
no idea whether he is or not--I should not hesitate to climb up to the
roof of his house some dark night, and shout down his chimney in a
cavernous voice: "Don Tirso! You are a damned villain!"


I was something of a rowdy as a boy and rather quarrelsome. The first
day I went to school in Pamplona, I came out disputing with another boy
of my own age, and we fought in the street until we were separated by a
cobbler and the blows of a leather strap, to which he added kicks.
Later, I foolishly quarrelled and fought whenever the other boys set me
on. In our stone-throwing escapades on the outskirts of the town, I was
always the aggressor, and quite indefatigable.

When I began to study medicine, I found that my aggressiveness had
departed completely. One day after quarrelling with another student in
the cloisters of San Carlos, I challenged him to fight. When we got out
on the street, it struck me as foolish to goad him to hit me in the eye
or else to land on my nose with his fist, and I slipped off and went
home. I lost my morale as a bully then and there. Although I was a
fighter from infancy, I was also something of a dreamer, and the two
strains scarcely make a harmonious blend.

Before I was grown, I saw Gisbert's Death of the Comuneros reproduced as
a chromo. For a long, long while, I always seemed to see that picture
hanging in all its variety of colour on the wall before me at night. For
months and months after my vigil with the body of the man who had been
garroted outside of Pamplona, I never entered a dark room but that his
image rose up before me in all its gruesome details. I also passed
through a period of disagreeable dreams. Some time would elapse after I
awoke before I was able to tell where I was, and I was frightened by it.


It was my opinion then, and still is, that a fiesta at Pamplona is among
the most vapid things in the world.

There was a mixture of incomprehension and culture in Pamplona, that was
truly ridiculous. The people would devote several days to going to bull
fights, and then turn about, when evening came, and welcome Sarasate
with Greek fire.

A rude and fanatical populace forgot its orgy of blood to acclaim a
violinist. And what a violinist! He was one of the most effeminate and
grotesque individuals in the world. I can see him yet, strutting along
with his long hair, his ample rear, and his shoes with their little
quarter-heels, which gave him the appearance of a fat cook dressed up in
men's clothes for Carnival.

When Sarasate died he left a number of trinkets which had been presented
to him during his artistic career--mostly match-boxes, cigarette cases,
and the like--which the Town Council of Pamplona has assembled and now
exhibits in glass cases, but which, in the public interest, should be
promptly disposed of at auction.


During my life in Pamplona, my brother Ricardo imparted his enthusiasm
for two stories to me. These were _Robinson Crusoe_ and Jules
Verne's _The Mysterious Island_, or rather, I should say they were
_The Mysterious Island_ and _Robinson Crusoe_, because we
preferred Jules Verne's tale greatly to Defoe's.

We would dream about desert islands, about manufacturing electric
batteries in the fashion of the engineer Cyrus Harding, and as we were
not very certain of finding any "Granite House" during the course of our
adventures, Ricardo would paint and paint at plans and elevations of
houses which we hoped to construct in its place in those far-off, savage

He also made pictures of ships which we took care should be rigged

There were two variations of this dream of adventure--one involving a
snow-house, with appropriate episodes such as nocturnal attacks by
bears, wolves, and the like, and then we planned a sea voyage.

I rebelled a long time at the notion that my life must be like that of
everybody else, but I had no recourse in the end but to capitulate.



I was never more than commonplace as a student, inclining rather to be
bad than good. I had no great liking for study, and, to tell the truth,
I never entertained any clear idea of what I was studying.

For example, I never knew what the word preterite meant until years
after completing my course, although I had repeated over and over again
that the preterite, or past perfect, was thus, while the imperfect was
thus, without having any conception that the word preterite meant
past--that it was a past that was entirely past in the former case, and
a past that was past to a less degree in the latter.

To complete two years of Latin grammar, two of French, and one of German
without having any conception of what preterite meant, demonstrated one
of two things: either my stupidity was very great, or the system of
instruction deplorable. Naturally, I incline toward the second

While preparing to take my degree in medicine, when I was studying
chemical analysis, I heard a student, who was already a practising
physician, state that zinc was an element which contained a great deal
of hydrogen. When the professor attempted to extricate him from his
difficulty, it became apparent that the future doctor had no idea of
what an element was. My classmate, who doubtless entertained as little
liking for chemistry as I did for grammar, had not been able throughout
his entire course to grasp the definition of an element, as I had never
been able to comprehend what a preterite might be.

For my part--and I believe that all of us have had the same experience--I
have never been successful in mastering those subjects which have not
interested me.

Doubtless, also, my mental development has been slow.

As for memory, I have always possessed very little. And liking for
study, none whatever. Sacred history, or any other history, Latin,
French, rhetoric and natural history have interested me not at all. The
only subjects for which I cared somewhat, were geometry and physics.

My college course left me with two or three ideas in my head, whereupon
I applied myself to making ready for my professional career, as one
swallows a bitter dose.

In my novel, _The Tree of Knowledge_, I have drawn a picture of
myself, in which the psychological features remain unchanged, although I
have altered the hero's environment, as well as his family relations,
together with a number of details.

Besides the defects with which I have endowed my hero in this book, I
was cursed with an instinctive slothfulness and sluggishness which were
not to be denied.

People would tell me: "Now is the time for you to study; later on, you
will have leisure to enjoy yourself; and after that will come the time
to make money."

But I needed all three times in which to do nothing--and I could have
used another three hundred.


I have not been fortunate in my professors. It might be urged that I
have not been in a position, being idle and sluggish, to take advantage
of their instruction. I believe, however, that if they had been good
teachers, now that so many years have passed, I should be able to
acknowledge their merits.

I cannot remember a single teacher who knew how to teach, or who
succeeded in arousing any interest in what he taught, or who had any
comprehension of the student mentality. No one learned how to reason in
the schools of my youth, nor mastered any theory, nor acquired a
practical knowledge of anything. In other words, we learned nothing.

In medicine, the professors adhered to a system that was the most
foolish imaginable. In the two universities in which I studied, subjects
might be taken only by halves, which would have been ridiculous enough
in any branch, but it was even more preposterous in medicine. Thus, in
pathology, a certain number of intending physicians studied the subject
of infection, while others studied nervous disorders, and yet others the
diseases of the respiratory organs. Nobody studied all three. A plan of
this sort could only have been conceived by Spanish professors, who, it
may be said in general, are the quintessence of vacuity.

"What difference does it make whether the students learn anything or
not?" every Spanish professor asks himself continually.

Unamuno says, apropos of the backwardness of Spaniards in the field of
invention: "Other nations can do the inventing." In other words, let
foreigners build up the sciences, so that we may take advantage of them.

There was one among my professors who considered himself a born teacher
and, moreover, a man of genius, and he was Letamendi. I made clear in my
_Tree of Knowledge_ what I thought of this professor, who was not
destitute, indeed, of a certain talent as an orator and man of letters.
When he wrote, he was rococo, like so many Catalans. Sometimes he would
discourse upon art, especially upon painting, in the class-room, but the
ideas he entertained were preposterous. I recall that he once said that
a mouse and a book were not a fit subject for a painting, but if you
were to write the words _Aristotle's Works_ on the book, and then
set the mouse to gnawing at it, what had originally meant nothing would
immediately become a subject for a picture. Yes, a picture to be hawked
at the street fairs!

Letamendi was prolixity and puerile ingenuity personified. Yet Letamendi
was no different from all other Spaniards of his day, including even the
most celebrated, such as Castelar, Echegaray and Valera.

These men read much, they possessed good memories, but I verily believe
that, honestly, they understood nothing. Not one of them had an inkling
of that almost tragic sense of the dignity of culture or of the
obligations which it imposes, which distinguishes the Germans above all
other nationalities. They nearly all revealed an attitude toward science
which would have sat easily upon a smart, sharp-tongued Andalusian young

I recall a profoundly moving letter by the critic Garve, which is
included in Kant's _Prolegomena_.

Garve wrote an article upon _The Critique of Pure Reason_, and sent
it to a journal at Göttingen, and the editor of the journal, in malice
and animosity toward Kant, so altered it that it became an attack on the
philosopher, and then published it unsigned.

Kant invited his anonymous critic to divulge his name, whereupon Garve
wrote to Kant explaining what had taken place, and Kant made a reply.

It would be difficult to parallel in nobility these two letters, which
were exchanged between a comprehensive intellect such as Garve and one
of the most portentous geniuses of the world, as was Kant.

They appear to be two travellers, face to face with the mystery of
Nature and the Unknown. No such feeling for learning and culture is to
be met with among our miserably affected Latin mountebanks.


I am an anti-militarist by inheritance. The Basques have never been good
soldiers in the regular army. My great-grandfather Nessi probably fled
from Italy as a deserter. I have always loathed barracks, messes, and
officers profoundly.

One day, when I was studying therapeutics with Don Benito Hernando, my
brother opened the door of the class-room and motioned for me to come

I did so, at the cost, by the way, of a furious scene with Don Benito,
who shattered several test tubes in his wrath.

The cause of my brother's appearance was to advise me that the Alcaldía
del Centro, or Town Council of the Central District, had given notice to
the effect that if I did not present myself for the draft, I was to be
declared in default. As I had already laid before the Board a copy of a
royal decree in which my name was set down as exempt from the draft
because my father had served as a Liberal Volunteer in the late war, and
because, in addition, I was born in the Basque provinces, I had supposed
that the matter had been disposed of. One of those ill-natured,
dictatorial officials who held sway in the offices of the Board, took it
upon himself to rule that the exemption held good only in the Basque
provinces, but not in Madrid, and so, in fact, for the time it proved to
be. In spite of my furious protests, I was compelled to report and
submit to have my measurements taken, and was well nigh upon the point
of being marched off to the barracks.

"I am no soldier," I thought to myself. "If they insist, I shall run

I went at once from the Alcaldía to the Ministry and called upon a
Guipúzcoan politician, as my father had previously advised me to do; but
the man was a political mastodon, puffed up with huge pretensions, who,
perhaps, might have been a stevedore in any other country. So he did
nothing. Finally, it occurred to me to go and see the Conde de
Romanones, who had just been appointed Alcalde del Centro, having
jurisdiction over the district.

When I entered his office, Romanones appeared to be in a jovial frame of
mind. He wore a flower in his button-hole. Two persons were with him,
one of whom was no other than the Secretary of the Board, my enemy.

I related what had happened to Romanones with great force. The Secretary
then answered.

"The young man is right," said the Count. "Bring me the roll of the

The roll was brought. Romanones took his pen and crossed my name off
altogether. Then he turned to me with a smile:

"Don't you care to be a soldier?"

"No, sir."

"But what are you, a student?"

"Yes, sir."

"In which branch?"


"Good! Very good. You may go now."

I would willingly have been anything to have escaped becoming a soldier,
and so be obliged to live in barracks, eat mess, and parade.


I failed in both June and September during the fourth year of my course,
which was a mere matter of luck, as I neither applied myself more nor
less than in previous years.

In the meantime my father had been transferred to Valencia, whither it
seemed wise that I should remove to continue my studies.

I appeared at Valencia in January for a second examination in general
pathology, and failed for the second time.

I began to consider giving up my intended profession.

I found that I had lost what little liking I had for it. As I had no
friends in Valencia, I never left the house; I had nowhere to go. I
passed my days stretched out on the roof, or, else, in reading. After
debating long what I should do, and realizing fully that there was no
one obvious plan to pursue, I determined to finish my course, committing
the required subjects mechanically. After adopting this plan, I never
failed once.

When I came up for graduation, the professors made an effort to put some
obstacles in my way, which, however, were not sufficient to detain me.

Admitted as a physician, I decided next to study for the doctor's degree
at Madrid.

My former fellow-students, when they saw that now I was doing nicely,
all exclaimed:

"How you have changed! Now you pass your examinations."

"Passing examinations, you know, is a combination, like a gambling
game," I told them.

"I have found a combination."



I returned to Burjasot, a small town near Valencia, where my family
lived at the time, a full-fledged doctor. We had a tiny house, besides a
garden containing pear, peach and pomegranate trees.

I passed some time there very pleasantly.

My father was a contributor to the _Voz de Guipúzcoa_ of San
Sebastian, so he always received the paper. One day I read--or it may
have been one of the family--that the post of official physician was
vacant in the town of Cestona.

I decided to apply for the place, and dispatched a letter accompanied by
a copy of my diploma. It turned out that I was the only applicant, and
so the post was awarded to me.

I set out for Madrid, where I passed the night, and then proceeded to
San Sebastian, receiving a letter from my father upon my arrival,
informing me that there was another physician at Cestona who was
receiving a larger salary than that which had been offered to me, and
recommending that perhaps it would be better not to put in appearance
too soon, until I was better advised as to the prospects.

I hesitated.

"In any event," I thought, "I shall learn what the town is like. If I
like it, I shall stay; if not, I shall return to Burjasot."

I took the diligence, which goes by the name of "La Vascongada," and
made the trip from San Sebastian to Cestona, which proved to be long
enough in all conscience, as we were five or six hours late. I got off
at a posada, or small inn, at Alcorta, to get something to eat. I dined
sumptuously, drank bravely, and, encouraged by the good food, made up my
mind to remain in the village. I talked with the other doctor and with
the alcalde, and soon everything was arranged that had to be arranged.

As night was coming on, the priest and the doctor recommended that I go
to board at the house of the Sacristana, as she had a room vacant, which
had formerly been occupied by a notary.


Dolores, my landlady and mistress of the Sacristy, was an agreeable,
exceedingly energetic, exceedingly hard-working woman, who was a
pronounced conservative.

I have met few women as good as she. In spite of the fact that she soon
discovered that I was not at all religious, she did not hold it against
me, nor did I harbour any resentment against her.

I often read her the _Añalejo_, or church calendar, which is known
as the _Gallofa_, or beggars' mite, in the northern provinces, in
allusion to the ancient custom of making pilgrimages to Santiago, and I
cooked sugar wafers over the fire with her on the eve of feast days, at
which times her work was especially severe.

I realized in Cestona my childish ambitions of having a house of my own,
and a dog, which had lain in my mind ever since reading _Robinson
Crusoe_ and _The Mysterious Island_.

I also had an old horse named Juanillo, which I borrowed from a coachman
in San Sebastian, but I never liked horses.

The horse seems to me to be a militaristic, antipathetic animal. Neither
Robinson Crusoe nor Cyrus Harding rode horse-back.

I committed no blunders while I was a village doctor. I had already
grown prudent, and my sceptical temperament was a bar to any great

I first began to realize that I was a Basque in Cestona, and I recovered
my pride of race there, which I had lost.



I have been asked frequently: "How did you ever come to go into the
baking business?" I shall now proceed to answer the question, although
the story is a long one.

My mother had an aunt, Juana Nessi, who was a sister of her father's.

This lady was reasonably attractive when young, and married a rich
gentleman just returned from America, whose name was Don Matías Lacasa.

Once settled in Madrid, Don Matías, who deemed himself an eagle, when,
in reality, he was a common barnyard rooster, embarked upon a series of
undertakings that failed with truly extraordinary unanimity. About 1870,
a physician from Valencia by the name of Martí, who had visited Vienna,
gave him an account of the bread they make there, and of the yeast they
use to raise it, enlarging upon the profits which lay ready to hand in
that line.

Don Matías was convinced, and he bought an old house near the Church of
the Descalzas upon Martí's advice. It stood in a street which boasted
only one number--the number 2. I believe the street was, and still is,
called the Calle de la Misericordia.

Martí set up ovens in the old building by the Church of the Descalzas,
and the business began to yield fabulous profits. Being a devotee of the
life of pleasure, Martí died three or four years after the business had
been established, and Don Matías continued his gallinaceous evolutions
until he was utterly ruined, and had pawned everything he possessed,
remaining at last with the bakery as his only means of support.

He succeeded in entangling and ruining that, too, before he died. My
aunt then wrote my mother requesting that my brother Ricardo come up to

My brother remained in Madrid for some time, when he grew tired and
left; then I went, and later we were both there together, making an
effort to improve the business and to push it ahead. Times were bad:
there was no way of pushing ahead. Surely the proverb "Where flour is
lacking, everything goes packing," could never have been applied with
more truth. And we could get no flour.

When the bakery was just about to do better, the Conde de Romanones, who
was our landlord in those days, notified us that the building was to be
torn down.

Then our troubles began. We were obliged to move elsewhere, and to
undertake alterations, for which money was indispensable, but we had no
money. In that predicament, we began to speculate upon the Exchange, and
the Exchange proved a kind mother to us; it sustained us until we were
on our feet again. As soon as we had established ourselves upon another
site, we proceeded to lose money, so we withdrew.

It is not surprising, therefore, that I have always regarded the Stock
Exchange as a philanthropic institution, or that, on the other hand, a
church has always seemed a sombre place in which a black priest leaps
forth from behind a confessional to seize one by the throat in the dark,
and to throttle him.


My father was endowed with a due share of the romantic fervour which
distinguished men of his epoch, and set great store by friendship. More
particularly, he was wrapped up in his friends in San Sebastian.

When we discovered that we were in trouble, before throwing ourselves
into the loving arms of the Bourse, my father spoke to two intimate
friends of his who were from San Sebastian. They made an appointment to
meet me in the Café Suizo. I explained the situation to them, after
which they made me certain propositions, which were so usurious, so
outrageously extortionate, that they took my breath away. They offered
to advance us the money we needed for fifty per cent of the gross
receipts, while we were to meet the running expenses out of our fifty
per cent, receiving no compensation whatever for our services in taking
care of the business.

I was astonished, and naturally did not accept. The episode was a great
blow to my father. I frequently came face to face with one of our
friends at a later date, but I never bowed to him. He was offended. I
was tempted to approach him and say: "The reason that I do not bow to
you is because I know you are a rascal."

If either of these friends of ours were alive, I should proceed to
mention their names, but, as they are dead, it will serve no useful


The bakery has been brandished against me in literature.

When I first wrote, it was said:

"This Baroja is a crusty fellow; naturally, he is a baker."

A certain picturesque academician, who was also a dramatist, and given
to composing stupendous _quintillas_ and _cuartetas_ in his
day, which, despite their flatness, were received with applause, had the
inspiration to add:

"All this modernism has been cooked up in Baroja's oven."

Even the Catalans lost no time in throwing the fact of my being a baker
in my face, although they are a commercial, manufacturing people.
Whether calico is nobler than flour, or flour than calico, I am not
sure, but the subject is one for discussion, as Maeztu would have it.

I am an eclectic myself on this score. I prefer flour in the shape of
bread with my dinner, but cloth will go further with a man who desires
to appear well in public.

When I was serving upon the Town Council, an anonymous publication
entitled "Masks Off," printed the following among other gems: "Pío
Baroja is a man of letters who runs a bake-shop."

A Madrid critic recently declared in an American periodical that I had
two personalities: one that of a writer and the other of a baker. He was
solicitous to let me know later that he intended no harm.

But if I should say to him: "Mr. So and So" is a writer who is
excellently posted upon the value of cloth, as his father sold
dry-goods, it would appeal to his mind as bad taste.

Another journalist paid his respects to me some months ago in _El
Parlamentario_, saying I baked rolls, oppressed the people, and
sucked the blood of the workingman.

It would appear to be more demeaning to own a small factory or a shop,
according to the standards of both literary and non-literary circles,
than it is to accept money from the corruption funds of the Government,
or bounties from the exchequers of foreign Embassies.

When I hear talk nowadays about the dues of the common people, my
propensity to laugh is so great that I am apprehensive that my end may
be like that of the Greek philosopher in Diogenes Laertius, who died of
laughter because he saw an ass eating figs.


The trials and tribulations of the literary life, its feuds and its
backbitings are a common topic of conversation. However, I have never
experienced anything of the kind in literature. The trouble with
literature is that there is very little money in it, which renders the
writer's existence both mean and precarious.

Nothing compares for vexation with the life of the petty tradesman,
especially when that tradesman is a baker. Upon occasion, I have
repeated to my friends the series of outrages to which we were obliged
to submit, in particular at the hands of the municipal authorities.

Sometimes it was through malice, but more often through sheer insentient

When my brother and I moved to the new site, we drew up a plan and
submitted it to the _Ayuntamiento_, or City Government. A clerk
discovered that no provision had been made for a stall for a mule to run
the kneading machine, and so rejected it. When we learned that our
application had not been granted, we inquired the reason and explained
to the clerk that no provision had been made for the mule because we had
no mule, as our kneading machine was operated by an electric motor.

"That makes no difference, no difference whatever," replied the clerk
with the importance and obtuseness of the bureaucrat. "The ordinance
requires that there be a stall for one."

Another of the thousand instances of official barbarity was perpetrated
at our expense while Sánchez de Toca was Alcalde. This gentleman is a
Siamese twin of Maura's when it comes to garrulousness and muddy
thinking, and he had resolved to do away with the distribution of bread
by public delivery, and to license only deliveries by private bakeries.
The order was arbitrary enough, but the manner in which it was put into
effect was a masterpiece. It was reported that plates bearing license
numbers would be given out at the _Ayuntamiento_ to the delivery
men from the bakeries. So we repaired to the _Ayuntamiento_ and
questioned a clerk:

"Where do they give out the numbers?

"There are no numbers."

"What will happen tomorrow then, when we make our deliveries?"

"How do I know?"

The next day when the delivery men began their rounds, a policeman
accosted them:

"Have you your numbers?"

"No, sir; they are not ready yet."

"Well, come with me then, to the police station."

And that was the last of our bread.

The Caid of Mechuar in Morocco favoured his subjects in some such
fashion several years since, but the Moors, being men of spirit, fell on
him one day, and left him at death's door on a dung heap. Meanwhile,
Sánchez de Toca continues to talk nonsense in these parts, and is
considered by some to be one of the bulwarks of the country.

I could spin many a tale of tyranny in high places, and almost as many,
no doubt, of the pettinesses of workingmen. But what is the good? Why
stir up my bile? In progressive incarnations, I have now passed through
those of baker and petty tradesman. I am no longer an employer who
exploits the workingman, nor can I see that I ever did so. If I have
exploited workers merely because I employed them, all that was some time
ago. I support myself by my writings now, although it is quite proper to
state that I live on very little.



My pre-literary career was three-fold: I was a student for eight years,
during two a village doctor, and for six more a baker.

These having elapsed, being already close upon thirty, I began to write.

My new course was a wise one. It was the best thing that I could have
done; anything else would have annoyed me more and have pleased me less.
I have enjoyed writing, and I have made some money, although not much,
yet it has been sufficient to enable me to travel, which otherwise I
should not have been able to do.

The first considerable sum which I received was upon the publication of
my novel _The Mayorazgo of Labraz_. Henrich of Barcelona paid me
two thousand pesetas for it. I invested the two thousand pesetas in a
speculation upon the Bourse, and they disappeared in two weeks.

The money which I have received for my other books, I have employed to
better purpose.


I have never been a believer in the absurd myth called Bohemia. The idea
of living gaily and irresponsibly in Madrid, or in any other Spanish
city, without taking thought for the morrow, is so preposterous that it
passes comprehension. Bohemia is utterly false in Paris and London, but
in Spain, where life is difficult, it is even more of a cheat.

Bohemia is not only false, it is contemptible. It suggests to me a minor
Christian sect, of the most inconsequential degree, nicely calculated
for the convenience of hangers on at cafés.

Henri Murger was the son of the wife of a _concièrge_.

Of course, this would not have mattered had his outlook upon life not
been that of the son of the wife of a _concièrge_.


The beginner in letters makes his way up, as a rule, amid a literary
environment which is distinguished by reputations and hierarchies,
all respected by him. But this was not the case with the young writers
of my day. During the years 1898 to 1900, a number of young men suddenly
found themselves thrown together in Madrid, whose only rule was the
principle that the immediate past did not exist for them.

This aggregation of authors and artists might have seemed to have been
brought together under some leadership, and to have been directed to
some purpose; yet one who entertained such an assumption would have been

Chance brought us together for a moment, a very brief moment, to be
followed by a general dispersal. There were days when thirty or forty
young men, apprentices in the art of writing, sat around the tables in
the old Café de Madrid.

Doubtless such gatherings of new men, eager to interfere in and to
influence the operations of the social system, yet without either the
warrant of tradition or any proved ability to do so, are common upon a
larger scale in all revolutions.

As we neither had, nor could have had, in the nature of the case, a task
to perform, we soon found that we were divided into small groups, and
finally broke up altogether.


A few days after the publication of my first book, _Sombre Lives_,
Miguel Poveda, who was responsible for printing it, sent a copy to
Martínez Ruiz, who was at that time in Monóvar. Martínez Ruiz wrote me a
long letter concerning the book by return mail; on the following day he
sent another.

Poveda handed me the letters to read and I was filled with surprise and
joy. Some weeks later, returning from the National Library, Martínez
Ruiz, whom I knew by sight, came up to me on the Recoletos.

"Are you Baroja?" he asked.


"I am Martínez Ruiz."

We shook hands and became friends.

In those days we travelled about the country together, we contributed to
the same papers, and the ideas and the men we attacked were the same.

Later, Azorín became an enthusiastic partisan of Maura, which appeared
to me particularly absurd, as I have never been able to see anything but
an actor of the grand style in Maura, a man of small ideas. Next he
became a partisan of La Cierva, which was as bad in my opinion as being
a Maurista. I am unable to say at the moment whether he is contemplating
any further transformations.

But, whether he is or not, Azorín will always remain a master of
language to me, besides an excellent friend who has a weakness for
believing all men to be great who talk in a loud voice and who pull
their cuffs down out of their coat sleeves with a grand gesture whenever
they appear upon the platform.


Another friendship which I found stimulating was that of Paul Schmitz, a
Swiss from Basle, who had come to Madrid because of some weakness of the
lungs, spending three years among us in order to rehabilitate himself.
Schmitz had studied in Switzerland and in Germany, and also had lived
for a long time in the north of Russia.

He was familiar with what in my judgment are the two most interesting
countries of Europe.

Paul Schmitz was a timid person of an inquiring turn of mind, whose
youth had been tempestuous. I made a number of excursions with Schmitz
to Toledo, to El Paular and to the Springs of Urbión; a year or two
later we visited Switzerland several times together.

Schmitz was like an open window through which I looked out upon an
unknown world. I held long conversations with him upon life, literature,
art and philosophy.

I recall that I took him one Sunday afternoon to the home of Don Juan

When Schmitz and I arrived, Valera had just settled down for the
afternoon to listen to his daughter, who was reading aloud one of the
latest novels of Zola.

Valera, Schmitz and I sat chatting for perhaps four or five hours. There
was no subject that we could all agree upon. Valera and I were no sooner
against the Swiss than the Swiss and Valera were against me, or the
Swiss and I against Valera, and then each flew off after his own

Valera, who saw that the Swiss and I were anarchists, said it was beyond
his comprehension how any man could conceive of a state of general well

"Do you mean to say that you believe," he said to me, "that there will
ever come a time when every man will be able to set a bowl of oysters
from Arcachón upon his table and top it off with a bottle of champagne
of first-rate vintage, besides having a woman sitting beside him in a
Worth gown?"

"No, no, Don Juan," I replied. "In the eyes of the anarchist, oysters,
champagne, and Worth are mere superstitions, myths to which we attach no
importance. We do not spend our time dreaming about oysters, while
champagne is not nectar to our tastes. All that we ask is to live well,
and to have those about us live well also."

We could not convince each other. When Schmitz and I left Valera's house
it was already night, and we found ourselves absorbed in his talents and
his limitations.


Ortega y Gasset impresses me as a traveller who has journeyed through
the world of culture. He moves upon a higher level, which it is
difficult to reach, and upon which it is still more difficult to
maintain oneself.

It may be that Ortega has no great sympathy for my manner of living,
which is insubordinate; it may be that I look with unfriendly eye upon
his ambitious and aristocratic sympathies; nevertheless, he is a master
who brings glad news of the unknown--that is, of the unknown to us.

Doctor San Martín was fond of telling how he was sitting one day upon a
bench in the Retiro, reading.

"Are you reading a novel?" inquired a gentleman, sitting down beside

"No, I am studying."

"What! Studying at your age?" exclaimed the gentleman, amazed.

The same remark might be made to me: "What! Sitting under a master at
your age?"

As far as I am concerned, every man who knows more than I do is my

I know very well that philosophy and metaphysics are nothing to the
great mass of physicians who pick up their science out of foreign
reviews, adding nothing themselves to what they read; nor, for that
matter, are they to most Spanish engineers, who are skilled in doing
sufficiently badly today what was done in England and Germany very well
thirty years ago; and the same thing is true of the apothecaries. The
practical is all that these people concede to exist, but how do they
know what is practical? Considering the matter from the practical point
of view, there can be no doubt but that civilization has attained a high
development wherever there have been great metaphysicisms, and then with
the philosophers have come the inventors, who between them are the glory
of mankind. Unamuno despises inventors, but in this case it is his
misfortune. It is far easier for a nation which is destitute of a
tradition of culture to improvise an histologist or a physicist, than a
philosopher or a real thinker.

Ortega y Gasset, the only approach to a philosopher whom I have ever
known, is one of the few Spaniards whom it is interesting to hear talk.


Although a man may never have amounted to anything, and will probably
continue in much the same case, that is to say never amounting to
anything, yet there are persons who will take pride in having given him
his start in the world--in short, upon having made him known. Señor
Ruiz Contreras has set up some such absurd claim in regard to me.
According to Ruiz Contreras, he brought me into public notice through a
review which he published in 1899, under the title _Revista Nueva_.
Thus, according to Ruiz Contreras, I am known, and have been for
eighteen years! Although it may seem scarcely worth while to expose such
an obvious joke, I should like to clear up this question for the benefit
of any future biographers. Why should I not indulge the hope of having

In 1899, Ruiz Contreras invited my co-operation in a weekly magazine, in
which I was to be both stockholder and editor. Those days already seem a
long way off. At first I refused, but he insisted; at length we agreed
that I should write for the magazine and share in meeting the expenses,
in company with Ruiz Contreras, Reparaz, Lassalle and the novelist

I made two or three payments, and moved down some of my pictures and
furniture to the office in consequence, until the time came when I began
to feel that it was humorous for me to be paying for publishing my
articles, when I was perfectly well able to dispose of them to any other
sheet. Upon my cutting off payments, Ruiz Contreras informed me that a
number of the stockholders, among whom was Icaza, who had replaced
Reparaz, took the position that if I did not pay, I should not be
permitted to write for the magazine.

"Very well, I shall not write." And I ceased to write.

Previous to my connection with the _Revista Nueva_, I had contributed
articles to _El Liberal_, _El Pais_, _El Globo_, _La Justicia_, and
_La Voz de Guipúzcoa_, as well as to other publications.

A year after my contributions to the _Revista Nueva_, I brought out
_Sombre Lives_, which scarcely sold one hundred copies, and, then,
a little later, _The House of Aizgorri_, the sale of which fell
short of fifty.

At this time, Martínez Ruiz published a comedy, _The Power of
Love_, for which I provided a prologue, and I went about with the
publisher, Rodríguez Serra, through the bookshops, peddling the book. In
a shop on the Plaza de Santa Ana, Rodríguez Serra asked the proprietor,
not altogether without a touch of malice:

"What do you think of this book?"

"It would be all right," answered the proprietor, who did not know me,
"if anybody knew who Martínez Ruiz was; and who is this Pío Baroja?"

Señor Ruiz Contreras says that he made me known, but the fact is that
nobody knew me in those days; Señor Ruiz Contreras flatters himself that
he did me a great favour by publishing my articles, at a cost to me, at
the very least, of two or three _duros_ apiece.

If this is to be a patron of letters, I should like to patronize half
the planet.

As for literary influence, Ruiz Contreras never had any upon me. He was
an admirer of Arsène Houssage, Paul Bourget, and other novelists with a
sophisticated air, who never meant anything to me. The theatre also
obsessed him, a malady which I have never suffered, and he was a devotee
of the poet, Zorrilla, in which respect I was unable to share his
enthusiasm, nor can I do so today. Finally, he was a political
reactionary, while I am a man of radical tendencies.



For the past twenty years I have been in the habit of visiting Paris,
not for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the city--to see it once
is enough; nor do I go in order to meet French authors, as, for the most
part, they consider themselves so immeasurably above Spaniards that
there is no way in which a self-respecting person can approach them. I
go to meet the members of the Spanish colony, which includes some types
which are most interesting.

I have gathered a large number of stories and anecdotes in this way,
some of which I have incorporated in my books.


Don Nicolás Estévanez was a good friend of mine. During my sojourns in
Paris, I met him every afternoon in the Café de la Fleur in the
Boulevard St. Germain.

When I was writing _The Last of the Romantics_ and _Grotesque
Tragedies_, Estévanez furnished me with data and information
concerning life in Paris under the Second Empire.

When I last saw him in the autumn of 1913, he made a practice of coming
to the café with a paper scribbled over with notes, to assist his memory
to recall the anecdotes which he had it in mind to tell.

I can see him now in the Café de la Fleur, with his blue eyes, his long
white beard, his cheeks, which were still rosy, his calm and always
phlegmatic air.

Once he became much excited. Javier Bueno and I happened on him in a
café on the Avenue d'Orleans, not far from the Lion de Belfort. Bueno
asked some questions about the recent attempt by Moral to assassinate
the King in Madrid, and Estévanez suddenly went to pieces. An anarchist
told me afterwards that Estévanez had carried the bomb which was thrown
by Morral in Madrid, from Paris to Barcelona, at which port he had taken
ship for Cuba, by arrangement with the Duke of Bivona.

I believe this story to have been a pure fabrication, but I feel
perfectly certain that Estévanez knew beforehand that the crime was to
be attempted.


Speaking of Estévanez, I recall also Bonafoux, whom I saw frequently.
According to González de la Peña, the painter, he held my versatility
against me.

"Bonafoux," remarked Peña, "feels that you are too versatile and too

"Indeed? In what way?"

"One day you entered the bar and said to Bonafoux that a testimonial
banquet ought to be organized for Estévanez, enlarging upon it
enthusiastically. Bonafoux answered: 'Go ahead and make the
preparations, and we will all get together.' When you came into the café
a few nights later, Bonafoux asked: 'How about that banquet?' 'What
banquet?' you replied. It had already passed out of your mind. Now, tell
me: Is this true?" inquired Peña.

"Yes, it is. We all have something of Tartarin in us, more or less. We
talk and we talk, and then we forget what we say."

Other Parisian types return to me when I think of those days. There was
a Cuban journalist, who was satisfactorily dirty, of whom Bonafoux used
to say that he not only ate his plate of soup but managed to wash his
face in it at the same time. There was a Catalan guitar player, besides
some girls from Madrid who walked the tight rope, whom we used to invite
to join us at the café from time to time. And then there was a whole
host of other persons, all more or less shabby, down at the heel and



Making our entrance into the world of letters hurling contradictions
right and left, the young men of our generation were received by the
writers of established reputation with unfriendly demonstrations. As was
natural, this was not only the attitude of the older writers, but it
extended to our contemporaries in years as well, even to those who were
most modern.


Among those who cherished a deadly hatred of me was Dicenta. It was an
antipathy which had its origin in the realm of ideas, and it was
accentuated subsequently by an article which I contributed to _El
Globo_ upon his drama _Aurora_, in which I maintained that
Dicenta was not a man of new or broad ideas, but completely preoccupied
with the ancient conceptions of honesty and honour. One night in the
Café Fornos--I am able to vouch for the truth of this incident because,
years afterwards, he told me the story himself--Dicenta accosted a young
man who was sitting at an adjacent table taking supper, and attempted to
draw him into discussion, under the impression that it was I. The young
man was so frightened that he never dared to open his mouth.

"Come," shouted Dicenta, "we shall settle this matter at once."

"I have nothing to settle with you," replied the young man.

"Yes, sir, you have; you have stated in an article that my ideas are not

"I never stated anything of the kind."

"What is that?"

"No, sir."

"But aren't you Pío Baroja?"

"I am not, sir."

Dicenta turned on his heel and marched back to his seat.

Sometime later, Dicenta and I became friends, although we were never
very intimate, because he felt that I did not appreciate him at his full
worth. And it was the truth.


I met Alejandro Sawa one evening at the Café Fornos, where I had gone
with a friend.

As a matter of fact, I had never read anything which he had written, but
his appearance impressed me. Once I followed him in the street with the
intention of speaking to him, but my courage failed at the last moment.
A number of months later, I met him one summer afternoon on the
Recoletos, when he was in the company of a Frenchman named Cornuty.
Cornuty and Sawa were conversing and reciting verses; they took me to a
wine-shop in the Plaza de Herradores, where they drank a number of
glasses, which I paid for, whereupon Sawa asked me to lend him three
pesetas. I did not have them, and told him so.

"Do you live far from here?" asked Alejandro, in his lofty style.

"No, near by."

"Very well then, you can go home and bring me the money."

He issued this command with such an air of authority that I went home
and brought him the money. He came to the door of the wine-shop, took it
from me, and then said:

"You may go now."

This was the way in which insignificant bourgeois admirers were treated
in the school of Baudelaire and Verlaine.

Later again, when I brought out _Sombre Lives_, I sometimes saw
Sawa in the small hours of the morning, his long locks flowing, and
followed by his dog. He always gripped my hand with such force that it
did me some hurt, and then he would say to me, in a tragic tone:

"Be proud! You have written _Sombre Lives_."

I took it as a joke.

One day Alejandro wrote me to come to his house. He was living on the
Cuesta de Santo Domingo. I betook myself there, and he made me a
proposition which was obviously preposterous. He handed me five or six
articles, written by him, which had already been published, together
with some notes, saying that if I would add certain material, we should
then be able to make up a book of "Parisian Impressions," which could
appear under the names of us both.

I read the articles and did not care for them. When I went to return
them, he asked me:

"What have you done?"

"Nothing. I think it would be difficult for us to collaborate; there is
no possible bond of unity in what we write."

"How is that?"

"You are one of these eloquent writers, and I am not."

This remark gave great offence.

Another reason for Alejandro's enmity was an opinion expressed by my
brother, Ricardo.

Ricardo wished to paint the portrait of Manuel Sawa in oils, as Manuel
had marked personality at that time, when he still wore a beard.

"But here am I," said Alejandro. "Am I not a more interesting subject to
be painted?"

"No, no, not at all," we all shouted together--this took place in the
Café de Lisboa--"Manuel has more character."

Alejandro said nothing, but, a few moments later, he rose, looked at
himself in the glass, arranged his flowing locks, and then, glaring at
us from top to toe, while he pronounced the letter with the utmost
distinctness, he said simply:

"M...." and walked out of the café.

Some time passed before Alejandro heard that I had put him into one of
my novels and he conceived a certain dislike for me, in spite of which
we saw each other now and then, always conversing affectionately.

One day he sent for me to come and see him. He was living in the Calle
del Conde Duque. He was in bed, already blind. His spirit was as high as
before, while his interest in literary matters remained the same. His
brother, Miguel, who was present, happened to say during the
conversation that the hat I wore, which I had purchased in Paris a few
days previously, had a flatter brim than was usual. Alejandro asked to
examine it, and busied himself feeling of the brim.

"This is a hat," he exclaimed enthusiastically, "that a man can wear
with long hair." Some months subsequent to his death a book of his,
_Light Among the Shadows_, was published, in which Alejandro spoke
ill of me, although he had a good word for _Sombre Lives_.

He called me a country-man, said that my bones were misshapen, and then
stated that glory does not go hand in hand with tuberculosis. Poor
Alejandro! He was sound at heart, an eloquent child of the
Mediterranean, born to orate in the lands of the sun, but he took it
into his head that it was his duty to make himself over into the
likeness of one of the putrid products of the North.


A mutual friend, Antonio Gil Campos, introduced me to Silverio Lanza.

Silverio Lanza was a man of great originality, endowed with an enormous
fund of thwarted ambition and pride, which was only natural, as he was a
notably fine writer who had not yet met with success, nor even with the
recognition which other younger writers enjoyed.

The first time that I saw Lanza, I remember how his eyes sparkled when I
told him that I liked his books. Nobody ever paid any attention to him
in those days.

Silverio Lanza was a singular character. At times he seemed benevolent,
and then again there were times when he would appear malignant in the

His ideas upon the subject of literature were positively absurd. When I
sent him _Sombre Lives_, he wrote me an unending letter in which he
attempted to convince me that I ought to append a lesson or moral, to
every tale. If I did not wish to write them, he offered to do it

Silverio thought that literature was not to be composed like history,
according to Quintilian's definition, _ad narrandum_, but _ad

When I gave him _The House of Aizgorri_, he was outraged by the
optimistic conclusion of the book, and advised me to change it.
According to his theory, if the son of the Aizgorri family came to a bad
end, the daughter ought to come to a bad end also.

Being of a somewhat fantastical turn of mind, Silverio Lanza was full of
political projects that were extraordinary.

I remember that one of his ideas was that we ought all to write the King
a personal note of congratulation upon his attaining his majority.

"It is the most revolutionary thing that can be done at such a time,"
insisted Lanza, apparently quite convinced.

"I am unable to see it," I replied. Azorín and myself were of the
opinion that it was a ridiculous proceeding which would never produce
the desired result.

Another of Lanza's hobbies was an aggressive misogyny.

"Baroja, my friend," he would say to me, "you are too gallant and
respectful in your novels with the ladies. Women are like laws, they are
to be violated."

I laughed at him.

One day I was walking with my friend Gil Campos and my cousin Goñi, when
we happened on Silverio Lanza, who took us to the Café de San Sebastián,
where we sat down in the section facing the Plazuela del Angel. It was a
company that was singularly assorted.

Silverio reverted to the theme that women should be handled with the
rod. Gil Campos proceeded to laugh, being gifted with an ironic vein,
and made fun of him. For my part, I was tired of it, so I said to Lanza:

"See here, Don Juan" (his real name was Juan Bautista Amorós), "what you
are giving us now is literature, and poor literature at that. You are
not, and I am not, able to violate law and women as we see fit. That may
be all very well for Caesars and Napoleons and Borgias, but you are a
respectable gentleman who lives in a little house at Getafe with your
wife, and I am a poor man myself, who manages as best he may to make a
living. You would tremble in your boots if you ever broke a law, or even
a municipal ordinance, and so would I. As far as women are concerned, we
are both of us glad to take what we can get, if we can get anything, and
I am afraid that neither of us is ever going to get very much, despite
the fact"--I added by way of a humorous touch--"that we are two of the
most distinguished minds in Europe."

My cousin Goñi replied to this with the rare tact that was
characteristic of him, arguing that within the miserable sphere of
tangible reality I was right, while Lanza moved upon a higher plane,
which was more ideal and more romantic. He went on to add that Lanza and
he were both Berbers, and so violent and passionate, while I was an
Aryan, although a vulgar Aryan, whose ideas were simply those which were
shared by everybody.

Lanza was not satisfied with my cousin's explanation and departed with a
marked lack of cordiality.

Since that time, Silverio has regarded me with mixed emotions, half
friendly, half the reverse, although in one of his latest books, _The
Surrender of Santiago_, he has referred to me as a great friend and a
great writer. I suspect, however, that he does not love me.




I have always been very much interested in the newspaper and periodical
press, and in everything that has any connection with printing. When my
father, my grandfather, and great grandfather set up struggling papers
in a provincial capital, it may be said that they were not printers in

Because of my fondness for newspapers and magazines, it is a grief to me
that the Spanish press should be so weak, so poor, so pusillanimous and

Of late, while the foreign press has been expanding and widening its
scope, ours has been standing still.

There is, of course, an economic explanation to justify our deficiency,
but this is valid only in the matter of quantity, and not as to quality.
Comparing our press with that of the rest of the world, a rosary of
negation might easily be made up in this fashion:

Our press does not concern itself with what is of universal interest.

Our press does not concern itself with what is of national interest.

Our press does not concern itself with literature.

Our press does not concern itself with philosophy.

And so on to infinity.

Corpus Barga has told me that when Señor Groizard, a relative of his,
was ambassador to the Vatican, Leo XIII once inquired of him, in a
jargon of Italo-Spanish, in the presence of the papal secretary,
Cardinal Rampolla:

"Does the Señor Ambasciatore speak Italian?"

"No, not Italian, although I understand it a little."

"Does the Señor Ambasciatore speak English?"

"No, not English, I do not speak that," replied Groizard.

"Does the Señor Ambasciatore speak German?"

"No German, no Dutch; not at all."

"No doubt then the Señor Ambasciatore speaks French?"

"French? No. I am able to translate it a little, but I do not speak it."

"Then what does the Señor Ambasciatore speak?" asked Leo XIII, smiling
that Voltairian smile of his at his secretary.

"Then Señor Ambasciatore speaks a heavy back-country dialect called
Extramaduran," replied Rampolla del Tindaro, bending over to His
Holiness's ear.

The Spanish press has made a resolution, now of long standing, to speak
nothing but a back-country dialect called Extramaduran.

_Our Journalists_

Our journalists supply the measure of our journals. When the great names
are those of Miguel Moya, Romeo, Rocamora and Don Pío, what are we to
think of the little fellows?

Speaking generally, the Spanish journalist is interested in politics, in
theatres, in bull fights, and in nothing else; whatever is beyond these,
does not concern him. Not even the _feuilleton_ attracts his
attention. A wooden, highly mannered phrase sponsored by Maura, is much
more stimulating to his mind than the most sensational piece of news.

The Spanish newspaper man is endowed with an extraordinary lack of
imagination and of curiosity. I recall having given a friend, who was a
journalist, a little book of Nietzsche's to read, which he returned with
the remark that he had not been able to get through it, as it was
insufferable drivel. I have heard the same opinion, or similar ones,
expressed by journalists of Ibsen, Schopenhauer, Dostoievsky, Stendhal
and all the most stimulating minds of Europe.

The wretched Saint Aubin, wretched certainly as a critic, used to
ridicule Tolstoi and the illness which resulted in his death,
maintaining that it was nothing more than an advertisement. The most
benighted vulgarity reigns in our press.

Upon occasion, vulgarity goes hand in hand with an ignorance which is
astounding. I remember going to a café on the Calle de Alcalá known as
la Maison Dorée one afternoon with Regoyos. Felipe Trigo, the novelist,
sat down at our table with a friend of his, a journalist, I believe,
from America. I have never been a friend of Trigo's, and could never
take any interest either in the man or his work, which to my mind is
tiresome and commercially erotic, besides being absolutely devoid of all

Regoyos, who is effusive by nature, soon became engaged in conversation
with them, and the talk turned upon artistic subjects, in which he was
interested, and then to his travels abroad.

Trigo put in his oar and uttered a number of preposterous statements. In
particular, he described a ship which had unloaded at Milan. When
Regoyos pointed out that Milan was not a seaport, he replied:

"Probably it was some other place then. What is the difference?"

He continued with a string of geographical and anthropological blunders,
which were concurred in by the journalist, while Regoyos and I sat by in

When we left the café, Regoyos inquired:

"Could they have been joking?"

"No; nonsense. They do not believe that such things are worth knowing.
They think they are petty details which might be useful to railway
porters. Trigo imagines that he is a magician, who understands the
female mind."

"Well, does he?" asked Regoyos, with naïve innocence.

"How can he understand anything? The poor fellow is ignorant. His other
attainments are on a par with his geography."

The ignorance of authors and journalists is accompanied as a matter of
course by a total want of comprehension. A number of years ago, a rich
young man called at my house, intending to found a review. During the
conversation, he explained that he was a Murcian, a lawyer and a
follower of Maura.

Finally, after expounding his literary ideas, he informed me that
Ricardo León, who at that time had just published his first novel,
would, in his opinion, come to be acknowledged as the first novelist of
Europe. He also assured me that Dickens's humour was absolutely vulgar,
cheap and out of date.

"I am not surprised that you should think so," I said to him. "You are
from Murcia, you are a lawyer and a Maurista; naturally, you like
Ricardo León, and it is equally natural that you should not like

Persons who imagine that it is of no consequence whether Milan is a
seaport or not, who believe that Nietzsche is a drivelling ass, and who
make bold to tell us that Dickens is a cheap author--in one word, young
gentlemen lawyers who are partisans of Maura, are the people who provide
copy for our press. How can the Spanish press be expected to be
different from what it is?


Unquestionably, Spaniards suffer much from the uncertainty of
information and narrowness of view inevitable to those who live apart
from the main currents of life.

In comparison with the English, the Germans, or the French, whether we
like it or not, we appear provincial. We are provincials who possess
more or less talent, but nevertheless we are provincials.

So it is that an Italian, a Russian, or a Swede prefers to read a book
by a mediocre Parisian, such as Marcel Prévost, to one by a writer of
genuine talent, such as Galdós; it also explains why the canvases of
second rate painters such as David, Gericault, or Ingres are more highly
esteemed in the market than those of a painter of genius like Goya.

To be provincial has its virtues as well as its defects. At times the
provincial are accompanied by universal elements, which blend and form a
masterpiece. This was the case with _Don Quixote_, with the
etchings of Goya and the dramas of Ibsen. Similarly, among new peoples,
provincial stupidity will often form a blend with an obtuseness which is
world-wide. The aridness and infertility characteristic of the soil
combine with the detritus of fashion and the follies of the four
quarters of the globe. The result is a child-like type, petulant, devoid
of virtue, and utterly destitute of a single manly quality. This is the
American type. America is _par excellence_ the continent of

The American has not yet outgrown the monkey in him and remains in the
imitative stage.

I have no particular reason to dislike Americans. My hostility towards
them arises merely from the fact that I have never known one who had the
air of being anybody, who impressed me as a man.

You frequently meet a man in the interior of Spain, in some small
village, perhaps, whose conversation conveys the impression that he is a
real man, wrought out of the ore that is most human and most noble. At
such times one becomes reconciled to one's country, for all its
charlatans and hordes of sharpers.

An American never appears to be calm, serene and collected. There are
plenty who seem to be wild, impulsive creatures, driven on by sanguinary
fury, while others disclose the vanity of the chorus girl, or a
self-conceit which is wholly ridiculous.

My lack of sympathy for Spanish-Americans extends to their literary
productions. Everything that I have read by South Americans, and I bear
in mind the not disinterested encomiums of Unamuno, I have found to be
both poor and deficient in substance.

Beginning with Sarmiento's _Facundo_, which is heavy, cheap, and
uninteresting, and coming down to the latest productions of Ingenieros,
Manuel Ugarte, Ricardo Rojas and Contreras, this is true without

What a deluge of shoddy snobbery and vulgar display pours out of

It is often argued that Spaniards should eulogize South Americans for
political reasons. This is one of many recommendations which proceed
from the craniums of gentlemen who top themselves off with silk hats and
who carry a lecture inside which is in demand by Ibero-American

I have no faith that this brand of politics will be productive of

Citizens of old, civilized countries are still sensible to flattery and
compliment, but what are you to tell an Argentine who is fully convinced
that Argentina is a more important country than England or Germany,
because she raises a large quantity of wheat, to say nothing of a great
number of cows?

Whenever Unamuno writes he decries Kant, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and
then promptly eulogizes the mighty General Aníbal Pérez and the great
poet Diocleciano Sánchez, who hail from the pampas. To these fellows,
such praise seems grudging enough. Salvador Rueda himself must appear
tame to these hide-stretchers.



I have always been a liberal radical, an individualist and an anarchist.
In the first place, I am an enemy of the Church; in the second place, I
am an enemy of the State. When these great powers are in conflict I am a
partisan of the State as against the Church, but on the day of the
State's triumph, I shall become an enemy of the State. If I had lived
during the French Revolution, I should have been an internationalist of
the school of Anacarsis Clootz; during the struggle for liberty, I
should have been one of the _Carbonieri_.

To the extent in which liberalism has been a destructive force, inimical
to the past, it enthralls me. The fight against religious prejudice and
the aristocracy, the suppression of religious communities, inheritance
taxes--in short, whatever has a tendency to pulverize completely the
ancient order of society, fills me with a great joy. On the other hand,
insofar as liberalism is constructive, as it has been for example in its
advocacy of universal suffrage, in its democracy, and in its system of
parliamentary government, I consider it ridiculous and valueless as

Even today, wherever it is obliged to take the aggressive, it seems to
me that the good in liberalism is not exhausted; but wherever it has
become an accomplished fact, and is accepted as such, it neither
interests me nor enlists my admiration.


In our present day democracy, there are only two effective sanctions:
votes and applause.

Those are all. Just as in the old days men committed all sorts of crimes
in order to please their sovereign, now they commit similar crimes in
order to satisfy the people.

And this truth has been recognized from Aristotle to Burke.

Democracy ends in histrionism.

A man who gets up to talk before a crowd must of necessity be an actor.
I have wondered from time to time if I might not have certain histrionic
gifts myself; however, when I have put them to the test, I have found
that they were not sufficient. I have made six or seven speeches during
my brief political career. I spoke in Valencia, in a pelota court, and I
delivered an address at Barcelona in the Casa del Pueblo, in both of
which places I was applauded generously. Nevertheless the applause
failed to intoxicate me; it produced no impression upon me whatever. It
seemed too much like mere noise--noise made by men's hands, and having
nothing to do with myself.

I am not good enough as an actor to be a politician.


I have never been able to feel any enthusiasm for Spanish politicians.
We hear a great deal about Cánovas. Cánovas has always impressed me as
being as bad an orator as he was a writer. When I first read his _Bell
of Huesca_, I could not contain myself for laughing. As far as his
speeches are concerned, I have also read a few, and find them horribly
heavy, diffuse, monotonous and deficient in style. I hear that Cánovas
is a great historian, but if so, I am not acquainted with that side of

Castelar was unquestionably a man of exceptional gifts as a writer, but
he failed to take advantage of them, and they were utterly dissipated.
He lacked what most Spaniards of the 19th Century lacked with him; that
is, reserve.

When Echegaray was made Minister of Finance, he was already an old man.
A reporter called one day to interview him at the Ministry, and
Echegaray confessed that he was without any very clear idea as to just
what the duties of his office were to be. When the reporter took leave
of the dramatist, he remarked:

"Don José, you are not going to be comfortable here; it is cold in the
building. Besides, the air is too fresh."

Echegaray replied:

"Yes, and your description suits me exactly."

This cynically cheap joke might have fallen appropriately from the
tongues of the majority of Spanish politicians. Among these male
_bailarinas_, nearly all of whom date back to the Revolution of
September, we may find, indeed, some men of austere character: Salmerón,
Pí y Margall and Costa. Salmerón was an inimitable actor, but an actor
who was sincere in his part. He was the most marvellous orator that I
have ever heard.

As a philosopher, he was of no account, and as a politician he was a

Pí y Margall, whom I met once in his own home where I went in company
with Azorín, was no more a politician or a philosopher than was
Salmerón. He was a journalist, a popularizer of other men's ideas,
gifted with a style at once clear and concise. Pí y Margall was sincere,
enamoured of ideas, and took but little thought of himself.

As to Costa, I confess that he was always antipathetic to me. Like
Nakens, he was a man who lived upon the estimation in which he was held
by others, pretending all the while that he attached no importance to it
whatever. Aguirre Metaca once told me that while he was connected with a
paper in Saragossa, he had solicited an interview with Costa, and
thereupon Costa wrote the interview himself, referring to himself here
and there in it as the Lion of Graus. I cannot accept Costa as a modern
European, intellectually. He was a figure for the Cortes of Cadiz,
solemn, pompous, becollared and rhetorical. He was one of those actors
who abound in southern countries, who are laid to rest in their graves
without ever having had the least idea that their entire lives have been
nothing but stage spectacles.


Whether politicians or authors, the Spanish revolutionists always smack
to my mind of the property room, and especially is this true of the
authors. Zozaya, Morote and Dicenta have passed for many years now as
terrible men, both destructive and great innovators. But how ridiculous!
Zozaya, like Dicenta, has never done anything but manipulate the
commonplace, failing to impart either lightness or novelty to it, as
have Valera and Anatole France, succeeding only on the other hand in
making it more plumbeous and indigestible.

Speaking of Luis Morote, against whom I urge nothing as a man, he has
always been a bugbear to me, the personification of dullness, of
vulgarity, of everything that lacks interest and charm. I can conceive
nothing lower than an article by Morote.

"What talent that man has! What a revolutionary personality!" they used
to say in Valencia, and once the janitor at the Club added: "To think I
knew that man when he was only this high!" And he held out his hand
about a metre above the ground.

Spain has never produced any revolutionists. Don Nicolás Estévanez, who
imagined himself an anarchist, would fly into a rage if he read an
article which concealed a gallicism in it.

"Do not bother your head about gallicisms," I used to say to him. "What
do they matter, anyway?"

No, we have never had any revolutionists in Spain. That is, we have had
only one: Ferrer.

He was certainly not a man of great mind. When he talked, he was on the
level of Morote and Zozaya, which is nothing more nor less than the
level of everybody else; but when it came to action, he did amount to
something, and that something was dangerous.


My only experience in politics was gained with Lerroux.

One Sunday, seven or eight years ago, on coming out of my house and
crossing the Plaza de San Marcial, I observed that a great crowd had

"What is the matter?" I asked.

"Lerroux is coming," they told me.

I delayed a moment and happened on Villar, the composer, among the
crowd. We fell to talking of Lerroux and what he might accomplish. A
procession was soon formed, which we followed, and we found ourselves in
front of the editorial offices of _El Pais_.

"Shall we go in?" asked Villar. "Do you know Lerroux?"

I had met Lerroux in the days when _El Progreso_ was still
published, having called once with Maeztu at his office; afterwards I
saw him in Barcelona in a large shed, which, if I recall rightly, went
by the name of "La Fraternidad Republicana," and then I was accompanied
by Azorín and Junoy.

Villar and I went upstairs and greeted Lerroux in the offices of _El

"Estévanez has spoken of you to me," he said. "Is he well?"

"Yes, very well."

A few days later, Lerroux invited me to dinner at the Café Inglés.
Lerroux, Fuente and I dined together, and then fell to talking. Lerroux
asked me to join his party, whereupon I pointed out the qualifications
which were lacking in me, which were necessary to a politician. Shortly
after, I was nominated as a candidate for the City Council, and I
addressed a number of meetings, although always coldly, and never at
high tension.

While I was with Lerroux, I was never treated save with consideration.

Why did I leave his party? Chiefly because of differences as to ideas
and as to tactics. Lerroux wished to organize his party into a party of
law and order, so that it might be capable of governing, and also to
have it friendly with the Army. I was of the opinion that it ought to be
a revolutionary party, not in the sense that I was thinking of erecting
barricades, but I wished it to contest, to upset things, and to protest
against injustice.

What Lerroux wanted was a party of orators who could speak at public
meetings, a party of office-holders, councillors, provincial deputies
and the like, while I held, and still hold, that the only efficacious
revolutionary weapon is the printed page. Lerroux was anxious to
transform the radical party into something aristocratic and Castilian; I
desired to see it retain its Catalan character, and continue to wear
blouses and rope-soled shoes.

I withdrew from the party for these reasons, to which I may add
Lerroux's attitude of indifference upon the occasion of the execution of
the stoker of the "Numancia."

Not many months after, I met him on the Carrera de San Jerónimo, and he
said to me:

"I have read your diatribes."

"They were not directed against you, but against your politics. I shall
never speak ill of you, because I have no cause."

"Yes," he replied, "I know that at heart you are one of my friends."


A number of years ago, when the Conservatives were in power and Dato was
President of the Ministry, Azorín brought me word that Sánchez Guerra,
then Minister of the Interior, wished to see me and to have a little
talk, as perhaps some way might be arranged by which I might be made
deputy. During the afternoon, I accompanied Azorín to the Ministry, and
we saw the Minister.

He informed me that he would like to have me enter the Congress.

"I should like to myself," I replied, "but it would appear to me rather

"But is there not some town where you are well known, and where you have

"No, none whatever."

"How would you like then to be deputy to represent the Government?"

"As a regular?"


"As a Conservative?"


I thought a moment and said: "No, I can never be a Conservative, however
it might suit my interest to be so. Try as hard as I might, I should
never succeed."

"That is the only way in which we can make you deputy."

"Well, it cannot be helped! I must resign myself then to amount to

Thanking the Minister for his kindness. Azorín and I walked out of the
Ministry of the Interior.


As for Socialists, I have never cared to have anything to do with them.
One of the most offensive things about Socialists, which is more
offensive than their pedantry, than their charlatanry, than their
hypocrisy, is their inquisitorial instinct for prying into other
people's lives. Whether Pablo Iglesias travels first or third class, has
been for years one of the principal topics of dispute between Socialists
and their opponents.

Fifteen years ago I was in Tangier, where I had been sent by the
_Globo_, and, upon my return, a newspaper man who had socialistic
ideas, reproached me:

"You talk a great deal about the working man, but I see you were living
in the best hotel in Tangier."

I answered: "In the first place, I have never spoken of the workingman
with any fervour. Furthermore, I am not such a slave as to be too
cowardly to take what life offers as it comes, as you are. I take what I
can that I want, and when I do not take it, it is because I cannot get


To gush over the workingman is one of the commonplaces of the day which
is utterly false and hypocritical. Just as in the 18th century sympathy
was with the simple hearted citizen, so today we talk about the
workingman. The term workingman can never be anything but a grammatical
common denominator. Among workingmen, as among the bourgeoisie, there
are all sorts of people. It is perfectly true that there are certain
characteristics, certain defects, which may be exaggerated in a given
class, because of its special environment and culture. The difference in
Spanish cities between the labouring man and the bourgeoisie is not very
great. We frequently see the workingman leap the barrier into the
bourgeoisie, and then disclose himself as a unique flower of knavery,
extortion and misdirected ingenuity. Deep down in the hearts of our
revolutionists, I do not believe that there is any real enthusiasm for
the workingman.

When the bookshop of Fernando Fé was still fin the Carrera de San
Jerónimo, I once heard Blasco Ibáñez say with the cheapness that is his
distinguishing trait, laughing meanwhile ostentatiously, that a republic
in Spain would mean the rule of shoemakers and of the scum of the


Barriovero, a conventionalist, according to Grandmontagne--yes, and how
keen the scent of this American for such matters!--attended the opening
of a radical club in the Calle del Príncipe with a party of friends. We
were all drinking champagne. Like other revolutionists and parvenus
generally, Lerroux is a victim of the superstition of champagne.

"Aha, suppose those workingmen should see us drinking champagne!"
suggested some one.

"What of it?" asked another.

"I only wish for my part," Barriovero interrupted with a show of
sentiment, "that the workingman could learn to drink champagne."

"Learn to drink it?" I burst out, "I see no difficulty about that. He
could drink champagne as well as anything else."

"Not at all," said Barriovero the conventionalist, very gravely. "He has
the superstition of the peasant; he thinks he must leave enough wine to
cover the bottom of the glass."

I doubt whether this observation will attract the attention of any
future Plutarch, although it might very well do so, as it expresses most
I clearly the distinction which exists in the minds of our
revolutionists between the workingman and the young gentleman.


I have had a number of acquaintances among anarchists. Some of them are
dead; the majority of the others have changed their ideas. It is
apparent nowadays that the anarchism of Reclus and Kropotkin is out of
date, and entirely a thing of the past. The same tendencies will
reappear under other forms, and present new aspects. Among anarchists, I
have known Elysée Reclus, whom I met in the editorial offices of a
publication called _L'Humanité Nouvelle_, which was issued in Paris
in the Rue des Saints-Pères. I have also met Sebastien Faure during a
mass meeting organized in the interests of one Guerin, who had taken
refuge in a house in the Rue de Chabrol some eighteen or twenty years
ago. I have had relations with Malatesta and Tarrida del Marmol. As a
matter of fact, both these anarchists escorted me one afternoon from
Islington, where Malatesta lived, to the door of the St. James Club, one
of the most aristocratic retreats in London, where I had an appointment
to meet a diplomat.

As for active anarchists, I have known a number, two or three of whom
have been dynamiters.


The only difference between the morality of the Liberal party and that
of the Conservative party is one of clothes. Among Conservatives the
most primitive clout seems to be slightly more ample, but not noticeably

The preoccupations of both are purely with matters of style. The only
distinction is that the Conservatives make off with a great deal at
once, while the Liberals take less, but do it often.

This is in harmony with the law of mechanics according to which what is
gained in force is lost in velocity and what is gained in intensity is
lost in expansion. After all, no doubt morality in politics should be a
negligible quantity. Honest, upright men who hearken only to the voice
of conscience, never get on in politics, neither are they ever
practical, nor good for anything.

To succeed in politics, a certain facility is necessary, to which must
be added ambition and a thirst for glory. The last is the most innocent
of the three.


It is safe, it seems to me, to assume the following axioms: First, to
obey the law is in no sense to attain justice; second, it is not
possible to obey the law strictly, thoroughly, in any country in the

That obeying the law has nothing to do with justice is indisputable, and
this is especially true in the political sphere, in which it is easy to
point to a rebel, such as Martínez Campos, who has been elevated to the
plane of a great man and who has been immortalized by a statue upon his
death, and then to a rebel such as Sánchez Moya, who Was merely shot.
The only difference between the men was in the results attained, and in
the manner of their exit.

Hence I say that Lerroux was not only base, but obtuse and absurdly
wanting in human feeling and revolutionary sympathy, when he concurred
in the execution of the stoker of the "Numancia."

If law and justice are identical and to comply with the law is
invariably to do justice, then what can be the distinction between the
progressive and the conservative? On the other hand, the revolutionist
has no alternative but to hold that law and justice are not the same,
and so he is obliged to subscribe to the benevolent character of all
crimes which are altruistic and social in their purposes, whether they
are reactionary or anarchistic in tendency.

Now the second axiom, which is to the effect that there is no city or
country in the world in which it is possible to obey the law thoroughly,
is also self-evident. A certain class of common crimes, such as robbery,
cheating and swindling, murder and the like, are followed by a species
of automatic punishment in all quarters of the civilized world, in spite
of exceptions in specific cases, which result from the intervention of
political bosses and similar influences; but there are other offenses
which meet with no such automatic punishment. In these pardon and
penalty are meted out in a spirit of pure opportunism.

I was discussing Zurdo Olivares one day with Emiliano Iglesias in the
office of _El Radical_, when I asked him:

"How was it that Zurdo Olivares could save himself after playing such an
active role in the tragic week at Barcelona?"

"Zurdo's salvation was indirectly owing to me," replied Iglesias.

"But, my dear sir!"

"Yes, indeed."

"How did that happen?"

"Very naturally. There were three cases to be tried; one was against
Ferrer, one against Zurdo, and another against me. A friend who enjoyed
the necessary influence, succeeded in quashing the case against me, as a
matter of personal favour, and as it seemed rather barefaced to make an
exception alone in my favour, it was decided to include Zurdo Olivares,
who, thanks to the arrangement, escaped being shot."

"Then, if an influential friend of yours had not been a member of the
Ministry, you would both have been shot in the moat at Montjuich?"

"Beyond question."

And this took place in the heyday of Conservative power.


There are men who believe that the State, as at present constituted, is
the end and culmination of all human effort. According to this view, the
State is the best possible state, and its organization is considered so
perfect that its laws, discipline and formulae are held to be sacred and
immutable in men's eyes. Maura and all conservatives must be reckoned in
this group, and Lerroux too, appears to belong with them, as he holds
discipline in such exalted respect.

On the other hand, there are persons who believe that the entire legal
structure is only a temporary scaffolding, and that what is called
justice today may be thought savagery tomorrow, so that it is the part
of wisdom not to look so much to the rule of the present as to the
illumination of the future.

Since it is impossible to effect in practice automatic enforcement of
the law, especially in the sphere of political crimes, because of the
unlimited power of pardon vested in the hands of our public men, it
would seem judicious to err upon the side of mercy rather than upon that
of severity. Better fail the law and pardon a repulsive, bloody beast
such as Chato de Cuqueta, than shoot an addle-headed unfortunate such as
Clemente García, or a dreamer like Sánchez Moya, whose hands were
innocent of blood.

It was pointed out a long time ago that laws are like cobwebs; they
catch the little flies, and let the big ones pass through.

How very severe, how very determined our politicians are with the little
flies, but how extremely affable they are with the big ones!



No, I have not made up my mind upon the issues of this war. If it were
possible to determine what is best for Europe, I should of course desire
it, but this I do not know, and so I am uncertain. I am preoccupied by
the consequences which may follow the war in Spain. Some believe that
there will be an increase of militarism, but I doubt it.

Many suppose that the crash of the present war will cause the prestige
of the soldier to mount upward like the spray, so that we shall have
nothing but uniforms and clanking of spurs throughout the world very
shortly, while the sole topics of conversation will be mortars,
batteries and guns.

In my judgment those who take this standpoint are mistaken. The present
conflict will not establish war in higher favour.

Perhaps its glories may not be diminished utterly. It may be that man
must of necessity kill, burn, and trample under foot, and that these
excesses of brutality are symptoms of collective health.

Even if this be so, we may be sure that military glory is upon the eve
of an eclipse.

Its decline began when the professional armies became nothing more than
armed militia, and from the moment that it became apparent that a
soldier might be improvised from a countryman with marvellous rapidity.


Formerly, a soldier was a man of daring and adventure, brave and
audacious, preferring an irregular life to the narrowing restraints of
civil existence.

The old time soldier trusted in his star without scruple and without
fear, and imagined that he could dominate fate as the gambler fancies
that he masters the laws of chance.

Valour, recklessness, together with a certain rough eloquence, a certain
itch to command, lay at the foundation of his life. His inducements were
pay, booty, showy uniforms and splendid horses. The soldier's life was
filled with adventure, he conquered wealth, he conquered women, and he
roamed through unknown lands.

Until a few years ago, the soldier might have been summed up in three
words: he was brave, ignorant and adventurous.

The warrior of this school passed out of Europe about the middle of the
19th Century. He became extinct in Spain at the conclusion of our Second
Civil War.

Since that day there has been a fundamental change in the life of the

War has taken on greater magnitude, while the soldier has become more
refined, and it is not to be denied that both war and the fighting man
are losing their traditional prestige.


The causes of this diminution of prestige are various. Some are moral,
such as the increased respect for human life, and the disfavour with
which the more aggressive, crueler qualities have come to be regarded.
Others, however, and perhaps these are of more importance, are purely
esthetic. Through a combination of circumstances, modern warfare,
although more tragic than was ancient warfare, and even more deadly,
nevertheless has been deprived of its spectacular features.

Capacity for esthetic appreciation has its limits. Nobody is able to
visualize a battle in which two million men are engaged; it can only be
imagined as a series of smaller battles. In one of these modern battles,
substantially all the traditional elements which we have come to
associate with war, have disappeared. The horse, which bulks so largely
in the picture of a battle as it presents itself to our minds, scarcely
retains any importance at all; for the most part, automobiles, bicycles
and motor cycles have taken its place. These contrivances may be useful,
but they do not make the same appeal to the popular imagination.


Upon taking over warfare, science stripped it of its picturesqueness.
The commanding general no longer cavorts upon his charger, nor smiles as
the bullets whistle about him, while he stands surrounded by an
ornamental general staff, whose breasts are covered with ribbons and
medals representing every known variety of hardware, whether monarchical
or republican.

Today the general sits in a room, surrounded by telephones and telegraph
apparatus. If he smiles at all, it is only before the camera.

An officer scarcely ever uses a sword, nor does he strut about adorned
with all his crosses and medals, nor does he wear the resplendent
uniforms of other days. On the contrary, his uniform is ugly and dirt
coloured, and innocent of devices.

This officer is without initiative, he is subordinated to a fixed
general plan; surprises on either one side or the other, are almost out
of the question.

The plan of battle is rigid and detailed. It permits neither originality
nor display of individuality upon the part of the generals, the lesser
officers, or the private soldiers. The individual is swallowed up by the
collective force. Outstanding types do not occur; nobody develops the
marked personality of the generals of the old school.

Besides this, individual bravery, when not reinforced by other
qualities, is of less and less consequence. The bold, adventurous youth
who, years ago, would have been an embryo Murat, Messina, Espartero or
Prim, would be rejected today to make room for a mechanic who had the
skill to operate a machine, or for an aviator or an engineer who might
be capable of solving in a crisis a problem of pressing danger.

The prestige of the soldier, even upon the battle field, has fallen
today below that of the man of science.


There are still some persons of a romantic turn of mind who imagine that
none but the soldier who defends his native land, the priest who
appeases the divine wrath and at the same time inculcates the moral law,
and the poet who celebrates the glories of the community, are worthy to
be leaders of the people.

But the man of the present age does not desire any leaders.

He has found that when someone wears red trousers or a black cassock, or
is able to write shorter lines than himself, it is no indication that he
is any better, nor any braver, nor any more moral, nor capable of deeper
feeling than he.

The man of today will have no magicians, no high priests and no
mysteries. He is capable of being his own priest, his own soldier when
it is necessary, and of fighting for himself; he requires no specialists
in courage, in morals, nor in the realm of sentiment and feeling. What
we need today are good men and wise men.


Prussian militarism has been explained upon the theory that it was a
development consequent upon a realization of the benefits which had
accrued to Prussia through war. As a matter of fact, however, it is not
possible to explain all militarism in this way. Certainly in Spain
neither wars nor the army have been of the slightest benefit to the

If we consider the epoch which goes by the name of contemporary history,
that is to say from the French Revolution to the present time, we shall
perceive immediately that we have not been over fortunate.

The French Republic declared war upon us in 1793. A campaign of
astuteness, a tactical warfare was waged by us upon the frontiers, upon
occasion not without success, until finally the French army grew strong
enough to sweep us back, and to cross the Ebro.

We took part in the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Spain presented a fine
appearance, she made a mighty gesture with her Gravinas, her Churrucas
and her Alavas, but the battle itself was a disaster.

In 1808 the War of Independence broke out, providing another splendid
exhibition of popular fervour. In this war, the regular Army was the
force which accomplished least. The war took its character from the
guerrillas, from the dwellers in the towns. The campaign was directed by
Englishmen. The Spanish army suffered more defeats than it won
victories, while its administrative and technical organization was
deplorable. The intervention of Angoulême followed in 1823. The Army was
composed of liberal officers, but it contained no troops, so that all
they ever did was to retire before the enemy, as he was more numerous
and more powerful.

The Spanish cause in America was hopeless before the fighting began. The
land was enormous, troops were few, and in large measure composed of
Indians. What the English were never able to do in the fulness of their
power, was not to be accomplished by Spaniards in their decadence. Our
First Civil War, which was fierce, terrible, and waged without quarter,
called into being a valorous liberal army, and soldiers sprang up of the
calibre of Espartero, Zurbano and Narváez, but simultaneously a powerful
Carlist army was organized under leaders of military genius, such as
Zumalacárregui and Cabrera. Victory for either side was impossible, and
the war ended in compromise.

The Second Civil War also resulted in a system of pacts and compromises
far more secret than the Convention of Vergara. The Cuban war and the
war in the Philippines, as afterwards the war with the United States,
were calamitous, while the present campaign in Morocco has not one
redeeming feature.

From the War of the French Revolution to this very day, the African War
has been the only one in which our forces have met with the slightest

Nevertheless, our soldiers aspire to a position of dominance in the
country equal to that attained by the French soldiers subsequent to
Jena, and by the Germans after Sedan.


"Gentlemen," said General Kuroki, speaking at a banquet tendered to him
in New York, "I cannot aspire to the applause of the world, because I
have created nothing, I have invented nothing. I am only a soldier."

If these are not his identical words, they convey the meaning of them.

This victorious, square-headed Mongolian had gotten into his head what
the dolichocephalic German blond, who, according to German
anthropologists is the highest product of Europe, and the brachycephalic
brunette of Gaul and the Latin and the Slav have never been able to

Will they ever be able to understand it? Perhaps they never will be


When I sat down to begin these pages, somewhat at random, my intention
was to write an autobiography, accompanying it with such comments as
might suggest themselves. Looking continually to the right and to the
left, I have lost my way, and this book is the result.

I have not attempted to correct or embellish it. So many books, trimmed
up nicely and well-padded, go to their graves every year to be forgotten
forever, that it has hardly seemed worth while to bedeck this one. I am
not a believer in _maquillage_ for the dead.

Now one word more as to the subject of the book, which is I.

If I were to live two hundred years at the very least, I might be able
to realize, by degrees, the maximum programme which I have laid down for
my life. As it scarcely seems possible that a man could live to such an
age, which is attained only by parrots, I find myself with no
alternative but to limit myself to a small portion of the introductory
section of my minimum programme, and this, as a matter of fact, I am
content to do.

With hardship and effort, and the scanty means at my command, I have
succeeded in acquiring a house and garden in my own country, a
comfortable retreat which is sufficient for my needs. I have gathered a
small library in the house, which I hope will grow with time, besides a
few manuscripts and some curious prints. I do not believe that I have
ever harmed any man deliberately, so my conscience does not trouble me.
If my ideas are fragmentary and ill-considered, I have done my best to
make them sound, clear, and complete, so that it is not my fault if they
are not so.

I have become independent financially. I not only support myself, but I
am able to travel occasionally upon the proceeds of my pen.

A Russian publishing house, another in Germany, and another in the
United States are bringing out my books, paying me, moreover, for the
right of translation; and I am satisfied. I have friends of both sexes
in Madrid and in the Basque provinces, who seem already like old
friends, because I have grown fond of them. As I face old age, I feel
that I am walking upon firmer ground than I did in my youth.

In a short time, what a few years ago the sociologists used to call
involution--that is, a turning in--will begin to take place in my brain;
the cranial sutures will become petrified, and an automatic limitation
of the mental horizon will soon come.

I shall accept involution, petrification of the sutures and limitation
with good grace. I have never rebelled against logic, nor against
nature, against the lightning or the thunder storm. No sooner does one
gain the crest of the hill of life than at once he begins to descend
rapidly. We know a great deal the moment that we realize that nobody
knows anything. I am a little melancholy now and a little rheumatic; it
is time to take salicylates and to go out and work in the garden--a time
for meditation and for long stories, for watching the flames as they
flare upward under the chimney piece upon the hearth.

I commend myself to the event. It is dark outside, but the door of my
house stands open. Whoever will, be he life or be he death, let him come


A few days ago I left the house with the manuscript of this book, to
which I have given the name of _Youth and Egolatry_, on my way to
the post office.

It was a romantic September morning, swathed in thick, white mist. A
blue haze of thin smoke rose upward from the shadowy houses of the
neighbouring settlement, vanishing in the mist. Meanwhile, the birds
were singing, and a rivulet close by murmured in the stillness.

Under the influence of the homely, placid country air, I felt my spirit
soften and grow more humble, and I began to think that the manuscript
which I carried in my hand was nothing more than a farrago of
foolishness and vulgarity.

The voice of prudence, which was also that of cowardice, cautioned me:

"What is the good of publishing this? Will it bring you reputation?"

"Certainly not."

"Have you anything to gain by it?"

"Probably not either."

"Then, why irritate and offend this one and that by saying things which,
after all, are nobody's business?"

To the voice of prudence, however, my habitual self replied:

"But what you have written is sincere, is it not? What do you care,
then, what they think about it?"

But the voice of prudence continued:

"How quiet everything is about you, how peaceful! This is life, after
all, and the rest is madness, vanity and vain endeavour."

There was a moment when I was upon the point of tossing my manuscript
into the air, and I believe I should have done so, could I have been
sure that it would have dematerialized itself immediately like smoke; or
I would have thrown it into the river, if I had felt certain that the
current would have swept it out to sea.

      *       *       *       *       *

This afternoon I went to San Sebastian to buy paper and salicylate of
soda, which is less agreeable.

A number of public guards were riding together in the car on the way
over, along the frontier. They were discussing bull fighters, El Gallo
and Belmonte, and also the disorders of the past few days.

"Too bad that Maura and La Cierva are not in power," said one of them,
who was from Murcia, smiling and exhibiting his decayed teeth. "They
would have made short work of this."

"They are in reserve for the finish," said another, with, the solemnity
of a pious scamp.

Returning from San Sebastian, I happened on a family from Madrid in the
same car. The father was weak, jaundiced and sour-visaged; the mother
was a fat brunette, with black eyes, who was loaded down with jewels,
while her face was made up until it was brilliant white, in colour like
a stearin candle. A rather good looking daughter of between fifteen and
twenty was escorted by a lieutenant who apparently was engaged to her.
Finally, there was another girl, between twelve and fourteen, flaccid
and lively as a still-life on a dinner table. Suddenly the father, who
was reading a newspaper, exclaimed:

"Nothing is going to be done, I can see that; they are already applying
to have the revolutionists pardoned. The Government will do nothing."

"I wish they would kill every one of them," broke in the girl who was
engaged to the lieutenant. "Think of it! Firing on soldiers! They are

"Yes, and with such a king as we have!" exclaimed the fat lady, with the
paraffine hue, in a mournful tone. "It has ruined our summer. I wish
they would shoot every one of them."

"And they are not the only ones," interrupted the father. "The men who
are behind them, the writers and leaders, hide themselves, and then they
throw the first stones."

Upon entering the house, I found that the final proofs of my book had
just arrived from the printer, and sat down to read them.

The words of that family from Madrid still rang in my ears: "I wish they
would kill every one of them!"

However one may feel, I thought to myself, it is impossible not to hate
such people. Such people are natural enemies. It is inevitable.

Now, reading over the proofs of my book, it seems to me that it is not
strident enough. I could wish it were more violent, more anti-middle

I no longer hear the voice of prudence seducing me, as it did a few days
since, to a palinode in complicity with a romantic morning of white

The zest of combat, of adventure stirs in me again. The sheltered
harbour seems a poor refuge in my eyes,--tranquillity and security
appear contemptible.

"Here, boy, up, and throw out the sail! Run the red flag of revolution
to the masthead of our frail craft, and forth to sea!"

Itzea, September, 1917.






The Spanish alternating party system has prevailed as a national
institution since the restoration of the monarchy under Alfonso XII.
Ostensibly it is based upon manhood suffrage, and in the cities this is
the fact, but in the more remote districts the balloting plays but small
part in the returns. Upon the dissolution of the Cortes and the
resignation of a ministry, one of the two great parties--the liberal
party and the conservative party--automatically retires from power, and
the other succeeds it, always carrying the ensuing elections by
convenient working majorities.

Spain is a poor country. During the half century previous to the
restoration of the Bourbons, she was a victim of internecine strife and
factional warfare. She is not poor naturally, but her energy has been
drawn off; she has been bled white, and needs time to recuperate. The
Spaniards are a practical people. They realize this condition. Even the
lower classes are tired of fine talking. No people have heard more, and
none have profited less by it. The country is not like Russia, a fertile
field for the agitator; it looks coldly upon reform. Such response as
has been obtained by the radical has come from the labour centres under
the stimulus of foreign influences, and more particularly from
Barcelona, where the problem is political even before it is an
individual one.

For this reason the Spanish Republicans are in large part theorists. The
land has been disturbed sufficiently. They would hesitate to inaugurate
radical reforms, if power were to be placed in their hands, while the
possession of power itself might prove not a little embarrassing. Behind
the monarchy lies the republic of 1873, behind Cánovas and Castelar, Pí
y Margall; the republic has merged into and was, in a sense, the
foundation of the constitutional system of today. Even popular leaders
such as Lerroux are quick to recognize this fact, and govern themselves
accordingly. The lack of general education today, would render any
attempt at the establishment of a thorough-going democracy insecure.

Francisco Ferrer, although idealized abroad, has been no more than a
symptom in Spain. Such men even as Angel Guimerá, the dramatist, a
Catalan separatist who has been under surveillance for years, or Pere
Aldavert, who has suffered imprisonment in Barcelona because of his
opinions, while they speak for the proletariat, nevertheless have had
scant sympathy for Ferrer's ideas. It would be interesting to know just
to what extent these commend themselves to Pablo and Emiliano Iglesias
and the professed political Socialists.

Of the existing parties, the Liberal, being more or less an association
of groups tending to the left, is the least homogeneous. Its most
prominent leader of late years has been the Conde de Romanones, who may
scarcely be said to represent a new era. He has shared responsibility
with Eduardo Dato.

Among Conservatives, the chief figure has long been Antonio Maura. He is
not a young man. Politically, he represents very much what the cordially
detested Weyler did in the military sphere. But Maurism today is a very
different thing from the Maurism of fifteen years ago, or of the moat of
Montjuich. The name of Maura casts a spell over the Conservative
imagination. It is the rallying point of innumerable associations of
young men of reactionary, aristocratic and clerical tendencies
throughout the country, while to progressives it symbolizes the
oppressiveness of the old régime.


Baroja's memoirs afford convincing proof of his contact with radicals of
all sorts and classes, from stereotyped republicans such as Barriovero,
or the Argentine Francisco Grandmontagne, correspondent of _La
Prensa_ of Buenos Aires, to active anarchists of the type of Mateo

Morral was an habitué of a cafe in the Calle de Alcalá at Madrid, where
Baroja was accustomed to go with his friends to take coffee, and, in the
Spanish phrase, to attend his _tertulia_. Morral would listen to
these conversations. After his attempt to assassinate the King and Queen
in the Calle Mayor on their return from the Royal wedding ceremony,
Baroja went to view Morral's body, but was refused admittance. A drawing
of Morral was made at the time, however, by Ricardo Baroja.

In this connection, José Nakens, to whom the author pays his compliments
on an earlier page, was subjected to an unusual experience. Nakens, who
was a sufficiently mild gentleman, had taken a needy radical into his
house, and had given him shelter. This personage made a point of
inveighing to Nakens continually against Cánovas del Castillo, proposing
to make way with him. When the news of the assassination of Cánovas was
cried through the city, Nakens knew for the first that his visitor had
been in earnest. He was none other than the murderer Angiolillo.

This anecdote became current in Madrid. Years afterwards when the prime
minister Canalejas was shot to death, the assassin recalled it to mind,
and repaired to the house of Nakens, who saw in dismay for the second
time his radical theories put to violent practical proof. The incident
proved extremely embarrassing.

The crime of Morral forms the basis of Baroja's novel _La Dama
Errante_. He has also dealt with anarchism in _Aurora Roja_ (Red

The mutiny on the ship "Numancia," referred to in the text, was an
incident of the same period of unrest, which was met with severe
repressive measures.


The Madrid Ateneo is a learned society maintaining a house on the Calle
del Prado, in which is installed a private library of unusual
excellence. It has been for many years the principal depository of
modern books in Spain, and a favourite resort of scholars and
research-workers of the capital.


Pío Baroja, recognized by the best critics as the foremost living
Spanish novelist, is without doubt the chief exponent of that ferment of
political and social thought in Spain which had its inception in the
cataclysm of 1898, and which gave rise to the new movement in Spanish

Of course this "modern movement" was not actually born in 1898. It dates
back as far as Galdós, who is in spirit a modern. But it marked the
turning point. Benavente the dramatist, Azorín the critic, Rubén Darío
the poet, Pío Baroja the novelist, all date from this period, belonging
to and of the new generation, and, together with the Valencian Blasco
Ibáñez, form the A B C of modern Spanish culture.

"Baroja stands for the modern Spanish mind at its most enlightened,"
says H. L. Mencken. "He is the Spaniard of education and worldly wisdom,
detached from the mediaeval imbecilities of the old regime and yet aloof
from the worse follies of the demagogues who now rage in the country ...
the Spaniard who, in the long run, must erect a new structure of society
upon the half archaic and half Utopian chaos now reigning in the

Pío Baroja was born in 1872 at San Sebastian, the most fashionable
summer resort of Spain, the Spanish "Summer Capital." Baroja's father
was a noted mining engineer, and while without reputation as a man of
letters he was an occasional contributor to various periodicals and
dailies. He had destined his son for the medical profession, and Pío
studied at Valencia and Madrid, where he received his degree. He started
practice in the small town of Cestona, the type of town which figures
largely in his novels.

But the young doctor soon wearied of his profession, and laying aside
his stethoscope forever, he returned to Madrid, where, in partnership
with an older brother, he opened a bakery. However he was no more
destined to be a cook than a doctor, so, encouraged by interested
friends, he succeeded in getting a few articles and stories accepted by
various Madrid papers. It was not long before he won distinction as a
journalist, and he presently abandoned baking entirely, devoting all his
energies to writing.

His first novel, _Camino de Perfección_, published in 1902, was
received with but little enthusiasm. However he closely followed it with
several others, and Spain soon realized that she had a new writer of
unusual merit. Today he is pre-eminent among contemporary Spanish
authors. His books have been translated into French, German, Italian and

Alfred A. Knopf, Señor Baroja's authorized publisher in the
English-speaking countries, has published to date two of the novels:

THE CITY OF THE DISCREET. Translated by Jacob S. Fassett, Jr. $2.00 net.
Around Cordova, the fascinating and romantic "city of the discreet,"
Baroja has spun an adventurous tale. He gives you a vivid picture of the
city with her tortuous streets, ancient houses with their patios and
tiled roofs and of her "discreet" inhabitants. In a style that is
polished where Ibáñez' is crudely vigorous, and with sympathy and
understanding, he portrays Quentin, the natural son of a Marquis and a
woman of humble birth; Pacheco, the ambitious bandit chief; Don Gil
Sabadia, the garrulous and convivial antiquarian, and a host of other

"Unforgettable pictures are spread in a rich background for the
action--Cordova at twilight, with its spires showing against the violet
sky, the narrow streets with white houses leaning toward each other,
its squares with sturdy beggars squatting around and its gardens heavy
with the scent of orange blossoms, where old fountains quietly drip."--
_Indianapolis News_.

"This fine novel ... shows us the best features of the modern Spanish
realistic school."--_The Bookman_.

CAESAR OR NOTHING. Translated by Louis How. $2.00 net.

This is the story of Caesar Moncada, a brilliantly clever young
Spaniard, who sets out to reform his country, to modernize it and its
government. In depicting Caesar's preparation in Rome, where his uncle
is a Cardinal, for the career he has planned for himself, Señor Baroja
etches vividly and entertainingly a typical cosmopolitan society--witty,
worldly, prosperous and cynical. The second part of the book describes
Caesar's political fight in Castro Duro.

"Not only Spain's greatest novelist, but his greatest book. It is the
most important translation that has come out of Spain in our time in the
field of fiction and it will be remembered as epochal."--JOHN GARRETT
UNDERHILL, Representative in America of the Society of Spanish Authors
of Madrid.

"Ranks Baroja as a master of fiction, with a keen sense of character,
constructive power and an active, dynamic style."--_Philadelphia

"I read _Caesar or Nothing_ with a profound admiration for its
power and skill. It is a great novel, which you deserve our thanks for
publishing."--HAROLD J. LASKI, of Harvard University.

"A brilliant book--amazingly clever and humorous in its earlier
chapters, gradually accumulating depth as it moves along until it
becomes the stuff of tragedy at the close. The character he has created
in Caesar Moncada is one of the few really notable portrayals in recent
fiction."--_Chicago Post_.

Translations of three other novels by Baroja are in preparation in the
competent hands of Dr. Isaac Goldberg. The first, _LA DAMA
ERRANTE_, will be ready in the Fall of 1920. Probable price, $2.00.

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