Pío Baroja


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Spanish novelist.

Of Basque and Italian descent, Baroja, the son of a mining engineer, was born at San Sebastián. He took a degree in medicine at the University of Madrid but practised only briefly. His first work, written in the 1890s, brought him to the attention of the prominent writer Azorín and in 1902 he decided to devote himself solely to his writing. The trilogy La lucha por la vida (1904; translated as The Quest, 1922, Weeds, 1923, and Red Dawn, 1924) established his reputation internationally and was notable for portraying the life of the Madrid poor in a realistic unrhetorical style that faithfully rendered colloquial speech. Among his many other novels are Paradox, Rey (1906; translated as Paradox, King, 1931), César o nada (1910; translated as Caesar or Nothing, 1919), and El árbol de la ciencia (1911; translated as The Tree of Knowledge, 1928). In 1913 he embarked on a huge series of novels, Memorias de un hombre de acción (1913–34), twenty-two volumes forming a panoramic portrait of Spain that are tenuously unified around the central historical figure, Baroja's relative Eugenio de Aviraneta e Ibargoyan (1792–1872).

Baroja was the major novelist of the ‘Generation of 1898’, a group of writers concerned with Spain's unique character, history, and landscape. Careless of the fine points of plot, structure, or even character development, his work aimed at capturing the variety of Spanish life and realistically treated subjects new to the Spanish novel. Of his enormous output – sixty-six novels, eight volumes of memoirs, nine books of essays, three biographies, nine collections of stories, two plays, and one book of poems – his most characteristic and powerful work was virtually all completed before the civil war.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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