José Martínez Ruiz AZORÍN

Monóvar, 1873- Madrid, 1967. Escritor español. Procedía de una familia acomodada. Cursó estudios de Derecho en Valencia, Granada, Salamanca y Madrid, pero la universidad apenas había de influir en su formación, esencialmente autodidácta, como la de otros compañeros de su generación.

José Martínez Ruiz AZORÍN

Durante su etapa valenciana colaboró en periódicos republicanos (como El Pueblo, de Blasco Ibáñez, con el seudónimo Ahrimán) y publicó folletos sobre temas literarios y sociales: La crítica literaria en España (1893), Buscapiés (1894), Anarquistas literarios y Notas sociales (1895). Éstos como los siguientes muestran una viva atención por la cultura francesa y una actitud inconformista y airada ante la sociedad. Establecido en Madrid, desde 1896, convivió la bohemia literaria, se relacionó con ciertos sectores anarquistas y colaboró en El País (1896) y El Progreso (1897), ambos dirigidos por Lerroux, y en las revistas literarias de la época (Revista Nueva, Alma Española, Juventud, Arte Joven). En Madrid conoció a Baroja, Maeztu y otras figuras de la para él denominada generación del noventa y ocho.  José Martínez Ruiz "AZORÍN"Con los dos escritores citados, formó en 1901, el efímero grupo regeneracionista de “Los Tres”, que postuló reformas educativas y económicas a través de la prensa. En 1900 publicó Los hidalgos y El alma castellana, que constituyen sus primeras tentativas de aproximación al pasado nacional. Su novela La voluntad (1902) marca la madurez literaria del escritor y la invención del personaje Azorín, con el que se identificaría a partir de entonces. Entre estampas de paisaje, episodios autobiográficos y de crónica contemporánea, se describe la amarga experiencia del protagonista, abúlico y cerebral, hipersensible y rebelde, al contacto con la vida rural y los ambientes literarios y políticos del Madrid noventayochista. Como en Camino de perfección (1901) , de Pío Baroja, el retiro final del protagonista a su pueblo, para hundir su existencia en un ambiente familiar mediocre, posee un evidente alcance simbólico. Los elementos meditativos y descriptivos, y la evasión hacia temas y experiencias de orden estético proliferan aún más en las dos novelas siguientes: Antonio Azorín (1903) y Las confesiones de un pequeño filósofo (1904), ésta última evocadora de sus años de internado en los escolapsios de Yecla. Constituyen estas tres novelas una libre trilogía, fiel exponente del arte azoriniano y a la vez índice de sus limitaciones como creador. Por aquellos años se operaba paralelamente un rápido cambio en la carrera política del escritor, que, en las filas de Maura y más tarde de La Cierva, consiguió el acta de diputado conservador. Al margen de circunstanciales escritos políticos (Parlamentarismo español, 1916), sobresalen de esta etapa libros sobre paisajes y temas españoles (Los Pueblos, 1905) e impresiones de lecturas literarias, bien a modo de glosa o recreadas en forma levemente narrativa: La ruta de Don Quijote (1905), Clásicos y modernos (1913), donde figura el artículo “La generación del 98” (fundamental con el posterior libro Madrid para el estudio de aquel movimiento). Con Don Juan (1922) y Doña Inés (1925) volvió a abordar la ficción novelesca; las posteriores Félix Vargas (1928) , Superrealismo (1929) y Pueblo (1930), bajo el rótulo de “Nuevas obras” manifiestan un propósito renovador, hasta cierto punto malogrado, del que participan también sus tentativas en el teatro: Judit (1926) o la trilogía Lo invisible (1927). Tras un voluntario exilio durante la guerra civil, cuya experiencia recogió en el volumen París (1945) se declaró nacionalista en 1939; de nuevo en Madrid siguió publicando novelas (El escritor, 1941, de gran interés por las revelaciones en materia de técnica y estilo) y escritos sobre temas diversos, entre los que figuran los libros Ante Baroja (1946) y El cine y el momento (1953). La obra de Azorín ofrece una absoluta unidad. Algunas de sus características son comunes a las de otros escritores del noventa y ocho: subjetivismo intelectual, visión castellanista y una peculiar literatización de la vida. Artista eminentemente contemplativo, parece abandonarse a la poesía de lo vulgar y lo cotidiano, con la intención de captar lo que para él fue constante enigma, el tiempo, a la vez repetido y mudable. Cobra así relieve la fórmula expuesta en Las nubes, “vivir es ver volver”, fiel índice de su pesimismo, que Ortega interpretaba como intuición profunda del inmovilismo de la vida española. El paisaje azoriniano posee intimidad y es también el tema idóneo en que se ejercita su pluma (“lo que da la medida de un artista es su sentimiento de la naturaleza”, advirtió alguna vez. Por último, su prosa, muy personal y cuidada, se caracteriza por una frase breve, sin complicados enlaces y un léxico muy rico, algo arcaizante.

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José Augusto Trinidad Martínez Ruiz, better known by his pseudonym Azorín (June 8, 1873, Monòver – March 2, 1967, Madrid), was a Spanish novelist, essayist and literary critic. A political radical in the 1890s, he moved steadily to the right. In literature he attempted to define the eternal qualities of Spanish life. His essays and criticism are written in a simple, compact style. Particularly notable are his impressionistic descriptions of Castilian towns and landscape.

Ruiz’s journalism developed on moving to Madrid in 1896. He wrote for the republican newspaper El País until he was dismissed due to his radicalism in February 1897. He also wrote for the Paris-based anarchist magazine La Campaña, and other Spanish journals including El Progreso (“Progress”), and El Imparcial (“The impartial”). His output during this period displayed anti-establishment views, including anarchist ideas, seeing writing as a catalyst for change, and depreciating aesthetics and faith.

However, by 1899 his outlook was beginning to change. His work began to display a new philosophical and artistic consciousness, and an interest in the past. His book El alma castellana (The Castilian Soul), and his essay collections, La ruta de Don Quijote (The Route of Don Quixote) and, much later, Una hora de España 1560–1590 (Spain’s Hour, 1560–1590) capture the essence of being Spanish. He was abandoning revolutionary ideas, but becoming more nihilist, though respecting the dignity of human beings, and using irnoy to stand at arm’s length from the world. This pessimism would eventually lead him to a period of political conservatism.

In 1902 he published the first of three intensely biographical novels, La voluntad (Volition), followed by Antonio Azorín, and Las confesiones de un pequeño filósofo (The Confessions of a Minor Philosopher). Early in his career, Ruiz had used pen names, such as Cándido (in honor of Voltaire) and Ahrimán (the Persian god of destruction), and in 1904 he discarded his own name and began to use the surname of one of his characters, “Azorín”. Using mostly short sentences, in both his fiction and his essays he emphasized the small but enduring elements and events in history and in one’s life. In his view, time consisted of a series of repetitions, a notion of time described as “timeless”.

He married Julia Guinda Urzanqui in 1908; she was to remain beside him for the rest of life and outlive him. They had no children.

By 1913 he was writing for ABC, the popular pro-monarchy, conservative newspaper, including a series of articles on “La generación de 1898” (Generación of 98), a literary and artistic group to which he belonged.

Ruiz served as a conservative deputy in the Cortes Generales from 1907 to 1919, eventually becoming an under-secretary for the Ministry of Public Instruction. He gave up politics in opposition to the dictatorship of Gen. Primo de Rivera, though he never oppose him publicly.

He had by now become noted as a drama critic and essayist. His literary criticism, such as Al margen de los clásicos (Marginal Notes to the Classics), Don Juan and Doña Inés, helped to open up new avenues of literary taste and to arouse a new enthusiasm for the Spanish classics at a time when a large portion of Spanish literature was virtually unavailable to the public. In 1924, he was elected to the Real Academia Española.

His first of a dozen plays, Old Spain, appeared in 1926, followed by Brandy mucho brandy and La comedia del arte, but had difficulty in adapting his slow and meticulous style to the dynamics and rhythm of drama. A wry comedy about journalists increasing newspaper sales by inventing stories, El Clamor (The Cry), led to the leadership of the Asociación de la Prensa expelling him, an act which Azorín likened to that of the Inquisition. He began to be influenced by the avant-garde movement, experimenting in a personal version of surrealism in a short trilogy, Lo invisible (The Invisible).

The outbreak of the Republic saw him re-adopt his old progressive political ideals. He abandoned ABC to write for the republican newspapers El Sol, La Libertad and Ahora). He edited Revista de Occidente, founded by José Ortega y Gasset, a journal promoting European philosophy, from 1923 to 1936.

At the outset of the Spanish Civil War, in 1936, Azorín fled to Paris, where he continued his literary career writing for the Argentine newspaper La Nación. A book reflecting on this period of exile, Españoles en París, was published in 1939.

When he returned to Spain on 23 August 1939, he found himself in “inner exile”, along with other intellectuals who had not overtly supported the Franco regime during the conflict. He was at first denied a press identification card (tarjeta de periodista), but was supported by Ramón Serrano Suñer, at that time Franco’s Interior Minister and president of the Falange. Wavering to Franco’s regime was the price he had to pay in order to be admitted back, and he aligned with the dictatorship in a noted article in the right-wing journal Vértice.He contributed again to ABC from 1941 to 1962.He published numerous new works which were redolent of his earlier literary successes, including ‘Pensando en España and Sintiendo España.

In his old age, Azorín became a film enthusiast, writing numerous articles, some of which are reprinted in El cine y el momento, and claiming that “Cinema is the greatest form of art”.

He died in Madrid on March 2, 1967, at the age of 93, the longest-lived of the Generation of 98.

The political evolution that transformed Martínez Ruiz, a committed journalist as well as a revolutionary anarchist, into Azorín, a conservative member of parliament, as well as a sceptic and indulgent writer intimidated by Franco’s regime, is key to understanding the division of his critics. Two different images of him were sustained – successive and irreconcilable personalities which cannot be studied at the same time without understanding the contradictions.

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