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Book Title: Las inquietudes de Shanti Andía|
The author of the book: Pío Baroja
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1249 times
Reader ratings: 4.6
Date of issue: 1978
ISBN 13: 9788437601236
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 19.80 MB
Read full description of the books:
A curious book; I quite liked it. Hemingway was a great admirer of the Basque Baroja, which is no recommendation to me, but perhaps some indication that he used to be better known, certainly in Europe.
The review will first give my raw reaction, then some academic perspective from the introduction.
Many years have passed since I left my native town, and what have I accomplished? I have come and gone, moved from here to there, carried along by a sweep of events that have left my soul empty. Whenever I have sought a little warmth and shelter, I have encountered coldness, hardness, and selfishness.
At sea I lost the notion of time. Aboard ship the days are long, and yet the years, sum of the days, are short, and they fly by and are gone. Time has sped for me. The thought of the past, once youth has been left behind, is like a wound in the soul, a wound which flows continually and floods one with sadness. The entire route traversed seems like an Appian Way sown with tombs.
The book is episodic, but what is unique is the equal weight given to ‘important’ events and to events that promise to turn out tragically or with life-changing consequences but melt into everyday quotidian detail. In the midst of life we can’t tell what’s going to turn out well or ill, we can only go forward. Baroja describes each type of remembrance with equal attention to the physical setting and his protagonist’s emotions. In many cases the reader becomes tense with anticipation of disaster, only to have Shanti relate that it all turned out well and life went on. The physical reaction we have to such a ‘letdown’ of the literary expectation of crisis is telling both for our reading and our ‘real’ lives. This contributes to the sense that there is no plot. Things happen, sometimes very dramatic things, but there is not much sense of heading somewhere and certainly no sense of arriving there.
The sea is perhaps even more of a protagonist than Shanti is. Our hero makes several voyages himself, and is the recipient of three long tales of others’ epic sea adventures. His enemy figures in two daring sailing feats. Slaving, mutiny, murder, imprisonment on a semi-arctic British prison ship (the ‘hulks’), buried treasure, and shipboard cruelty constitute our impression of the sea-faring life.
Baroja extends his interest in the sea to nature in general. The weather is everpresent as both essential to a sailor’s success and safety, and as the source of emotional temperature. He frequently takes paragraphs to describe the beauty of good and bad weather at sea, and the daily work of a sailor. The nature writing is lyrical. But he doesn’t romanticize the life:
The crew was made up of gallows birds. Leaving out the Basques, who stood by the captain for the rewards involved and who were mostly peasant stock, and two or three others, the rest were a collection of drunks, thieves, jailbirds, the worst of the worst, the detritus of all the ports of the five parts of the world.
The Basques were something else. They were almost all worthy persons. They were convinced that once they were out of their native town, once they were away from home, it did not make the slightest difference whether one transported for sale a family of Chinamen or Negroes, or whether one robbed other ships for a living. My countrymen figured, innocently enough, that at home, in their own towns, personal honor, good faith, and keeping one’s word were absolutely indispensable attributes. Once at sea, however, they thought it more or less decorous to live by piracy, sacking, and robbery, and quite respectable if one grew rich by it.
At the same time, there is a curious distance from the characters and the story. Equal sang froid attends several love stories, a kidnapping, family secrets, a storm rescue, and a walk on the beach. Curiously enough, for all the sea voyages, one retains a sense of Shanti grounded in his small town. While the adventures all take place on the sea, he himself spends a great deal of time on land, and that permanence ends up sticking in your mind.
In this volume there are also a few short stories and snippets of reportage or remembrance, again with the strange clipped style of unrolling events without sorting out what is important or spending much time drawing conclusions--life simply is. The final, long play I didn’t read.
From Anthony Kerrigan’s introduction:
The Madrid novels and the Basque narratives are diametrically opposed in spirit. The first are tough, anarchistic, antisocial...His Basque novels are intervals of racial affection and tenderness...[Shanti is a Basque novel]
Baroja, far from being a socialist, was not even a believer in democracy; but he had written in an ambiance partly formed by such men as Iglesias, he had concerned himself principally with rebels and been the associate of socialist romantics and anarchists...
Ortega [y Gassett] has pointed out a key word in Baroja’s writing that appears and reappears. The word is farsa: farce...
Baroja trained as a doctor. I find it remarkable how many great writers trained as doctors; in fact I keep a running list that I add to as I find more of them: Bulgakov, Joao Guimaraes Rosa, Thomas Browne, Keats, Schiller, Abe, Antunes...
He was part of the ‘Generation of ’98’: Unamuno, Valle-Inclan, Machado, and others.
The writers and philosophers whom in perspective we group together were nurtured at the turn of the century in Spain’s chagrin at suddenly finding itself deceived and thwarted as a nation [after military losses in Cuba and the Philippines]...in the manner of Russian intellectuals they went to the countryside...[there is a focus on the individual ‘I’] Baroja is the frontiersman of the “I”: the activist of the “I,” beyond all Nietzschean concepts of the select “I,”...Unamuno, Ortega, Baroja--each in his manner, but with surprising agreement--believed it necessary for the man to take action against his circumstances if he were to be...
In Baroja the struggle of the hero to be, to impose himself on chaos, is the equivalent of the moral need to act in Ortega.
Baroja wrote in Spanish, believing that Basque was not capable of expressing literary or contemporary political, scientific, etc. concepts.
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Read information about the authorFrom Wikipedia:
Pío Baroja y Nessi (December 28, 1872 – October 30, 1956) was a Spanish Basque writer, one of the key novelists of the Generation of '98. He was a member of an illustrious family, one of his relatives was a painter and engraver, and his nephew Julio Caro Baroja was a well known anthropologist.
He was born in San Sebastian, Spain. Although educated as a physician, Baroja only practised this trade briefly. As a matter of fact, he would use his student's memories - some of them he would consider terrible - as the raw material for his novel The Tree of Knowledge. He also managed the family bakery for a short time and ran unsuccessfully on two occasions for a seat at the Cortes (Spanish parliament) as a Radical Republican. Baroja's true calling, however, was always writing, which he began seriously at the age of 13.
His first novel --La casa de Aizgorri (The House of Aizgorri, 1900)-- is part of a trilogy called La Tierra Vasca (The Basque Country, 1900–1909). This trilogy also includes El Mayorazgo de Labraz (The Lord of Labraz, 1903) which became one of his most popular novels in Spain.
However, he is best known internationally by another trilogy entitled La lucha por la vida (The Struggle for Life, 1922–1924) which offers a vivid depiction of life in Madrid's slums. John Dos Passos greatly admired these works and wrote about them.
Another major work --Memorias de un Hombre de Acción (Memories of a Man of Action, 1913–1931)-- offers a depiction of one of his ancestors who lived in the Basque region during the Carlist uprising in the 19th century.
Another of his trilogies is called La mar (The sea) and comprises La estrella del capitán Tximista, Los Pilotos de altura, and Los mercaderes de esclavos. Baroja also wrote the biography of Juan Manuel Antonio Julian Van Halen, a mariner who lived in the late 18th century.
However, some believe his masterpiece to be El árbol de la ciencia (1911) (translated as The Tree of Knowledge), a pessimistic Bildungsroman that depicts the futility of the pursuit of knowledge and of life in general. The title is ironically symbolic: The more the chief protagonist Andres Hurtado learns about and experiences life, the more pessimistic he feels and the more futile his life seems.
In keeping with Spanish literary tradition, Baroja often wrote in a pessimistic, picaresque style. His deft portrayal of the characters and settings brought the Basque region to life much as Benito Pérez Galdós' works offered an insight into Madrid. Baroja's works were often lively, but could be lacking in plot and are written in an abrupt, vivid, yet impersonal style. Sometimes he is even accused of grammatical errors, which he never denied.
Baroja as a young man believed loosely in anarchistic ideals, as other members of the '98 Generation. However, later he would derive into simple admiration of men of action, somehow similar to Nietzsche's superman. His vitalistic vision of life -although pessimistic- led his novels, his ideas and his figure to be considered somehow a precursor of a kind of Spanish fascism. In any case, he was not loved by Catholic and traditionalist ideologists and his life was at risk during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).
Ernest Hemingway was greatly influenced by Baroja, although this is not fully appreciated by English-speaking critics.
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