¡ACHICAR, MUCHACHOS, ACHICAR!"
Heath's Modern Language Series
ARMANDO PALACIO VALDÉS
EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES
F. J. A. DAVIDSON, Ph.D.
While Associate Professor of Italian and Spanish inthe
University of Toronto
AND WITH A VOCABULARY
ALICE P. F. HUBBARD, M.A.
Instructor in Spanish in Smith College
D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERSBOSTON NEW YORK
By D. C. Heath & Co.
THE present text was chosen for an annotated edition as being
both goodliterature and good material for learning Spanish. It is hoped that theexperience of those who may use the book will justify the choice. It isintended more particularly to follow the study of a reader or itsequivalent; but there is no reason why it should not adapt itself toother stages of Spanish study,
according as longer or shorterrecitations are assigned, and more
or less aid given by the instructor.
The purpose of the introduction is simply to "introduce" the student tothe author and his work, to convey some idea of their
importance and toincite to further acquaintance with both.
Nevertheless I believe thatscholars will welcome the new
information on the life of Sr. Valdés.
The text is that of the sole Spanish edition (Madrid, 1885), the
newedition in the Obras Completas now in course of publication not havingyet appeared. I have, however, beside correction of errata, changed twowords and omitted ten to better adapt the text for class use.
In the notes I have aimed to explain all serious difficulties.
Withtheir aid and that of grammar and dictionary the student should be ableto present a correct translation. I have, however, by no meansexhausted possibilities in annotation, believing that
the reading of atext should not be a mere recitation, preferring that the interestedstudent should have an opportunity to exercise his ability and apply theknowledge already acquired, and
holding also that many explanations arebetter retained when given orally by the teacher to his class.
I am happy to acknowledge here the generous aid of Professor
W. H.Fraser of the University of Toronto, who examined the MS. of the notesand offered numerous valuable suggestions, not
a few of which have beenadopted, and also, and most
particularly my debt of gratitude to theauthor of José, who so kindly accorded his sanction to this edition,who placed at my disposal hitherto unpublished biographical data, whofurnished me some information otherwise inaccessible, and who by
hisfriendly encouragement stimulated me to the completion of my work.
F. J. A. D.
JAN. 10, 1900.
NOTE TO EDITION OF 1909.—A vocabulary has been added in
response to aconsiderable demand. Miss Alice P. F. Hubbard, of
the University ofTexas, kindly undertook the making of this vocabulary, from which I wasprevented by pressure of other work. I have, however, revised the MS.and read the proof, and can heartily commend Miss Hubbard's work tousers of this
book. Text and notes have also been revised and a fewerrors eliminated.
Since the appearance of the first edition Señor Valdés has produced twoexcellent novels: La Aldea Perdida, and Tristán, o el Pesimismo, anda series of his Obras Completas is now in course of publication. Thelist of studies on this author has also increased, and for additionalbibliography I take the liberty of referring to the scholarly edition of La Alegría del Capitán Ribot by Messrs. Morrison and Churchman (D. C.Heath & Co.).
F. J. A. D.
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO.
ARMANDO PALACIO VALDÉS was born on the 4th of October,
1853, at thevillage of Entralgo, in the mountains of Asturias, where his parentspossessed a country-house and surrounding
estate. His mother belonged toan old family of landed gentry.
His father, a lawyer by profession, wasin temperament
emotional, and endowed with much imagination and
anextraordinary talent for story-telling; these qualities rendered hissociety so agreeable that he attracted the sympathies of all whoapproached him. Sr. Valdés has said of his father, with characteristicmodesty: "If I possessed but the half of his imagination and narrativetalent I do not doubt that I should be a good novelist."
Most of the members of his mother's family resided in Avilés
(a maritimetown of Asturias, described in Marta y María under the name of Nieva),and between this town and Entralgo the Valdés alternated theirresidence, passing the winter in the former and the summer in thelatter. Thus early the future novelist learned to know the life ofsea-faring folk and also that of country people and farmers.
At the age of twelve he began his secondary education at Oviedo, wherehe was under the care of a paternal uncle. This city, the capital ofAsturias, is described in El Maestrante under the name of Lancia.Although entering fully into the pleasures of
school life he was afaithful student, and soon acquired a taste for both science andliterature, aided in no small degree by the stimulus of other eageryouths whose acquaintance he made. His
friends, however, considered atthis time that he was better endowed for the former.
At seventeen he went to Madrid to begin the study of law, to
which hedevoted himself with great enthusiasm. His sole
ambition now was tobecome a professor of political economy.
He was admitted to membershipin the famous literary and
scientific club El Ateneo, studying deeplyin its library and taking an active part in its labors. Before the endof his law course he was elected first secretary of the section of moraland
political science of that association.
Sr. Valdés celebrated his admission to the bar by the
publication ofseveral articles on philosophic and political subjects which attractedthe attention of the proprietor of the Revista Europea, at that timethe most important scientific periodical in Spain. In spite of hisextreme youth—he was then but twenty-two years of age—the editorshipof this review was entrusted to him, and he successfully fulfilled itsduties for three years.
Nothing as yet made the young editor imagine that he was to
become anovelist. But in order to add to the interest of his publication hebegan to produce a series of literary portraits of orators, poets andnovelists. This task revived the literary inclinations of his earlyyears, and abandoning the control of the Revista, he wrote his firstnovel, El Señorito Octavio, a work which the author himself regards asof little merit, too lyric, and marred by a straining after effect. Hisfriends, however, were quick to see the talent displayed, and theirencouragement
stimulated the production of a second novel, Marta yMaría, which is perhaps the best known of all. It was the occasion ofthe author's introduction to the American public through an article byMr. W. Dean Howells in Harper's Magazine.
Since then Sr. Valdés has continued to produce new novels at
the rate ofone each year or every two years. Those which have
enjoyed the greatestpopularity in Spain are La Hermana San Sulpicio and Los Majos deCádiz, novels of Andalusian life, in spite of the author's not being anative of that province.
In the summer of 1882 Sr. Valdés met, in the small coast-town
of Candás,Asturias, a young lady of fifteen, Luisa Prendes of Gijón (the Sarrió of El Cuarto Poder), who in the year following became his wife. The newlywedded pair established their
household in Madrid, but were not destinedlong to enjoy their happiness, for eighteen months after their marriageSra. Valdés expired in the arms of her husband, leaving him an infantson nine months old. This fatal event is the most important in the lifeof our author. From this time on he has lived devoted to his
son,reading, writing, and retired from all political and literary commotion.
Such are the biographical data which Sr. Valdés has thought fit
to giveto the public. More personal details he has not divulged,
such"confessions" appearing to him both absurd and a profanation. But thereis a key of which those who are interested
in the life and character ofthe novelist may avail themselves, without violating his reserve. Thiskey he gives us himself in a sentence which vindicates the personalityof all art, "subjective"
or "objective," realistic or romantic. "Wenovelists," he says,
"write our biography, though disguisedly, in theworks which we create." And he adds: "In mine is found almost all thathas affected me in my life, but most particularly in Maximina."
The following are, in chronological order, the novels of
Valdés,produced between the years 1881-1899; El Señorito Octavio, 1 vol.; Marta y María, 1 vol.; El Idilio de un enfermo, 1
vol.; José, 1vol.; Aguas fuertes (novelas y cuadros), 1 vol; Riverita, 2 vols.; Maximina, 2 vols.; El Cuarto Poder, 2 vols.; La Hermana SanSulpicio, 2 vols.; La Espuma, 2 vols.; La Fe, 1
vol.; ElMaestrante, 1 vol.; El Origen del Pensamiento, 1 vol.; Los Majos deCádiz, 1 vol.; La Alegría del Capitán Ribot, 1 vol.
Beside these he has written the following critical works: Los Oradoresdel Ateneo, 1 vol., 1878: Los Novelistas Españoles, 1
vol., 1878; Nuevo Viaje al Parnaso, 1 vol., 1879; La Literatura en 1881, 1 vol.,in collaboration with Leopoldo Alas.
Valdés, if we must classify him, belongs to the ranks of realism. Infact, Mr. J. Fitzmaurice Kelly declares that "he has a fair claim torank as the chief of the modern naturalistic school."
But we must hastento modify this definition by restriction in one direction, amplificationin another. This modification is
necessary because Valdés has known howto maintain his
originality amid the strife of schools, the seductionsof praise, and the onslaught of adverse criticism. Blanco García speaksof him as a convert to naturalism, but we feel that his literary creedas manifested practically in his novels, theoretically in the prefacesto Marta y María and La Hermana San Sulpicio, is the result of anatural bent of mind foreshadowed in his early affection for science,just as we may trace much of his fine description and character-drawingto his early observation of city, sea and country. To differentiate inthe novelist what he derives from the general point of view which he hasadopted from the measure of originality which marks his work, is thereal
difficulty in attempting to characterize Valdés.
He chooses his material throughout from contemporary
Spanish life. Hiswork is based on an exactness of observation that shows him to havethoroughly studied the milieux which he describes. His tertulias,aristocratic or plebeian, the envies and vanities, the petty intrigues,the fervors of religion, feigned or real, the flirtations and grandpassions, all pulsate with life and truth, no less than the setting ofnature with which his characters are so intimately interwoven that itseems as much a part of them
as their words and acts. "The labor ofPalacio amounts to cutting from the immeasurable canvas of realityheterogeneous portions,
of warp coarse or fine, smooth or rough,according to the order in which they attract his eye, and demand theembroidery of his
fancy and his pen. "[B] In the choice of these"sections" we can divine the predilections of the artist. He is anoptimist at heart and believes in the possibility of human nobleness,and so prefers the brighter colors of his palette. Not that his pictureslack in shadow: as a faithful novelist he does not hesitate to describescenes of gloom and even horror, when they form naturally part of thestory; he does so undeterred by any scruple.
But though he believes thateverything is worthy of being
painted, he does not insist too much uponunpleasant detail, and
often, as in the account of the quarrel betweenthe mothers of José and Elisa in the present novel, cuts short adescription of the ugly and sordid and turns with relief to brighterthings. Even his baser characters, whose defects are brought out withremorseless
justice, are not lacking in all human virtue and not seldomare explained, if not excused, by heredity or the circumstances of theirenvironment. Valdés has a wide knowledge of life and though as a truerealist he abstains from personal comment, we feel that he deeplysympathizes with human nature. For him tout comprendre, c'est toutpardonner. It is with shafts of gentle irony that he transfixes humanfoibles, an irony softened by the play of a delicate humor which is oneof the most potent charms of his work. Valdés too, is a poet and knowshow, not to idealize, but to emphasize the ideal and æsthetic elementsthat exist already in the most ordinary life, to weave from them a veilof poetry which
softens the too familiar features of prose.
There has been a steady development in the work of this author. Not somuch in style, of which he has shown himself a master almost from theoutset of his literary career. Not so much, either, in ideas, literaryor general, though he never repeats himself, and each succeeding workbrings to light new treasures
of his mind. Rather should we say that hisunderstanding of life
has grown more comprehensive and more calm, andthat he gives
us more and more of his originality and less and less ofthe phase of literature which he still undoubtedly represents. In arecent letter to the present editor he says, apropos of El CapitánRibot:
" Verá V. que me aparto cada día más del gusto predominante enla literatura moderna. " There is more synthesis of character, lessanalysis, and a distinct philosophy, indicated in earlier works, beginsto stand out clearly as the final rounding of his view of life. It is aphilosophy of sublime morality for its own sake and because immoralityis fatal, the philosophy of a man who believes in the sanity of virtueand the wholesomeness of work, and who abhors sin without the hopes andfears inspired by theology. For Valdés is not orthodox; more than one ofhis novels is iconoclastic in this respect; but such is his
sympatheticcomprehension of attitudes of faith that we feel that
his religion isdeep and pure in spite of its dispensing with creed.
Blanco García has only words of praise for José. He calls it
"an idyllof truth, impregnated with the most chaste tenderness."
"Valdés," hesays, "shows himself penetrated by the panoramas of the sea and coast,and studies affectionately the manners and customs of a fishing-village,and an every-day story of two young people crossed in love, whichfurnishes the basic theme.
The struggles of José, the chief character,who lends his name to
the book, with his vixenish mother, with therigors of fate and the fury of the waves, to gain the hand of his adoredElisa, and the heroism with which he suffers, and resigns himself,
andtriumphs over adversity, lend to the novel an epic hue, combined withrealistic exactitude and beautified by the aureole
of religiousfeeling." No less interesting, though in a different way, are the coldand calculating señá Isabel, the henpecked school-master, and aboveall D. Fernando, the decayed
nobleman, the incongruities of whosesituation afford full scope
to the author's sympathetic humor. Mr.Howells finds room for criticism in the final treatment of thischaracter. "The author," he says, "helps himself out with a romantic andsuperfluous bit of self-sacrifice, and spoils the pleasure of thejudicious in his work by the final behavior of an otherwise admirablystudied hidalgo."
It seems to us, on the contrary, that the dénouement was indicated: compelled to abandon the home of his race, and havingaccomplished his final mission of uniting the much-tried
lovers, hedies, without dishonor, leaving behind him a grateful memory in thehearts of his friends.
It was in critical work that Valdés first essayed his powers, prior toentering upon his career as a novelist. This early criticism is somewhatdestructive in trend, but valuable as showing a thorough knowledge ofthe subjects treated and also
"a fineness of touch, a delicacy of ironyand a correct taste, "[C]
which have not abandoned him in his later work.
The style of Valdés is sure and simple, devoid like the personality ofthe author of all pose. There is no unnecessary expansion ofdescriptions, nor any useless display of erudition, although on occasionhe gives evidence of wide reading. La Fe particularly shows him versedalike in theology and philosophy,
nor would it be easy to find a bettercomprehension of
mysticism. His composition is equally balanced. As arule, each
character, each episode is treated within the limits of
itsimportance. There is neither haste nor a too fond dwelling on
detail; ifthere be a defect, it is on the side of sobriety: we could readilyforgive his arresting the course of the story for the sake of a few moredescriptions such as that at the end of Chapter VI.
of the presentnovel.
Valdés' work has been greatly admired both at home and
abroad: on thewhole, perhaps, he has won more consideration out of Spain than in it.This is perhaps natural, seeing his heterodoxy in matters of religionand the conservatism of his countrymen in this respect. In Spain, as hasbeen stated, his two
Andalusian novels have been most popular. InEngland La Espuma and Maximina are best known. In America we aremost familiar with Marta y María, Maximina and La Hermana SanSulpicio, through the translations of Mr. Nathan Haskell Dole. InFrance, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Holland and
Bohemia translations ofdifferent of his works have seen the light. This international fame maywell be taken as a prophecy of
the future. The relative youth of theauthor allows us to hope for still greater things from his pen. Butthough his career is not yet closed, and though we lack the perspectiveof time to enable us to form a final judgment, this much may already beregarded as
certain, that the novelist has attained a position in theliterature of his country which posterity will recognize and honor. Pg 1
SI algún día venís a la provincia de Asturias,[1.1] no os vayáis sinechar una ojeada a Rodillero.[1.2] Es el pueblo más singular y extrañode ella, ya que no[1.3] el más hermoso. Y todavía en punto a bellezaconsidero que se las puede haber[1.4] con cualquier otro, aunque no seaésta la opinión general. La mayoría de las
personas, cuando hablan deRodillero, sonríen con lástima, lo mismo que cuando se mienta en laconversación a[1.5] un cojo o corcovado o a otro mortal señalado de modoridículo par la mano
de Dios. Es una injusticia. Confieso que Rodillerono es gentil, pero es sublime, lo cual importa más.
Figuraos que camináis por una alta meseta de la costa,
pintoresca yamena como el resto del país: desparramados por ella vais encontrandoblancos caseríos, medio ocultos entre el follaje de los árboles, yquintas, de cuyas huertas cuelgan en pinos[1.6] sobre el camino lasmanzanas amarillas sonrosadas: un arroyo cristalino serpea por el medio,esparciendo amenidad y frescura; delante tenéis la gran mancha azul delocéano; detrás las cimas lejanas de algunas montañas que forman oscuro
yabrupto cordón en torno de la campiña, que es dilatada y llana.
Cerca yade la mar, comenzáis a descender rápidamente,
siguiendo el arroyo, haciaun barranco negro y adusto: en el fondo está Rodillero. Pg 2 Pero estebarranco se halla cortado en forma de hoz, y ofrece no pocos tramos yrevueltas[2.1] antes de desembocar en el océano. Las casuchas quecomponen el pueblo
están enclavadas por entrambos lados en la mismapeña, pues las
altas murallas que lo cierran no dan espacio más que[2.2]para el arroyo y una estrecha calle que lo ciñe: calle y arroyo vanhaciendo eses,[2.3] de suerte que algunas veces os encontraréis con lamontaña por delante, escucharéis los rumores de la mar detrás de ella yno sabréis por dónde seguir para verla: el mismo
arroyo os lo irádiciendo. Salváis aquel tramo, pasáis por delante de otro montón decasas colocadas las unas encima de las otras en forma deescalinata,[2.4] y de nuevo dais con[2.5] la peña cerrándoos el paso.Los ruidos del océano se tornan[2.6] más fuertes, la calle se vaensanchando: aquí tropezáis con una lancha que están carenando, más allácon algunas redes tendidas en el suelo; percibiréis el olor nauseabundode los residuos podridos del pescado; el arroyo corre más sucio ysosegado, y flotan sobre
él algunos botes: por fin, al revolver de unapeña[2.7] os halláis frente al mar. El mar penetra, al subir, por laoscura garganta engrosando el arroyo. La playa que deja descubierta albajar no es de arena, sino de guijo. No hay muelle ni artefacto
algunopara abrigar las embarcaciones: los marineros cuando
tornan de la pescase ven precisados a subir sus lanchas a la rastra[2.8] hasta ponerlas aseguro.
Rodillero es un pueblo de pescadores. Las casas, por lo
común, sonpequeñas y pobres y no tienen vistas más que por delante; por detrás selas quita la peña a donde están adosadas.[2.9]
Hay algunas menos malas,que pertenecen a las pocas personas de lustre[2.10] quePg 3 habitan en ellugar, enriquecidas la mayor parte en el comercio del escabeche; suelentener detrás un huerto
labrado sobre la misma montaña, cuyo ingreso estáen el piso segundo.
solariegos,deshabitados, medio derruidos; se conoce que los hidalgos que loshabitaban han huido hace tiempo de la sombría
y monótona existencia deaquel pueblo singular. Cuando lo
hayáis visitado, les daréis larazón.[3.1] Vivir en el fondo de aquel barranco oscuro donde los ruidosde la mar y del viento zumban
como en un caracol, debe de ser bientriste.[3.2]
En Rodillero, no obstante, nadie se aburre; no hay tiempo para
ello. Lalucha ruda, incesante, que aquel puñado de seres necesita sostener conel océano para poder alimentarse, de tal modo absorbe su atención, queno se echa menos[3.3] ninguno de los goces que proporcionan las grandesciudades. Los hombres