Mariano José de Larra
He was born in Madrid; his father was a doctor in the French army, and, as an afrancesado, was forced to leave the Peninsula with his family in 1812. In 1817 Larra went back to Spain, knowing less Spanish than French. His nature was disorderly, his education was imperfect, and, after trying obtain a degree in medicine or law, he made an imprudent marriage at the age of twenty, broke with his relatives and became a journalist.
On the 27th of April 1831 he produced his first play, No más mostrador, based on two pieces by Scribe and Dieulafoy. Though not very original, it is brilliantly written, and held the stage for many years. On the 24th of September 1834 he produced Macías, a play based on his own historical novel, El doncel de don Enrique el Doliente (1834).
The drama and novel are interesting as experiments, but Larra was really a journalist, and the increased liberty of the press after the death of Ferdinand VII gave him opportunities. He was already famous under the pseudonyms of Juan Pérez de Munguía and Fígaro which he used in El Pobrecito Hablador and La Revista Española respectively. People in Madrid laughed at his grim humour; ministers feared his vitriolic pen and courted him; he defended Liberalism against the Carlist rebellion; he was elected as deputy for Ávila, and a great career seemed to lie before him. But the era of military pronunciamientos ruined his personal prospects and patriotic plans. His writing took on a more sombre tinge; domestic troubles increased his pessimism, and after a disastrous love-affair, he committed suicide by shooting himself in February 1837.
Larra lived long enough to prove himself the greatest prose-writer that Spain had during the 19th century. He wrote at great speed with the constant fear of the censor before his eyes, but no sign of haste is seen in his work, and the dexterity with which he aims his venomous shafts is amazing. His political instinct, his abundance of ideas and his forcible, mordant style would have given him a foremost position at any time and in any country; in Spain in his own period, they placed him beyond all rivalry.
|This article includes text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Please add to the article as needed.
- Some of his phrases like Vuelva usted mañana (come back tomorrow) or Escribir en España es llorar (To write in Spain is to cry) are still applied to chastise present-day ills.
- The Spanish-language clone of the Slashdot Internet forum, Barrapunto, uses Pobrecito Hablador ("Poor little talker") as the name for anonymous commenters.
- The Premio Mariano José de Larra rewards young outstanding journalists in Spain.