Crossfire

Crossfire: Philosophy and the Novel in Spain, 1900-1934

ROBERTA JOHNSON
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: 1
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j7m8
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    Crossfire
    Book Description:

    The marriage of philosophy and fiction in the first third of Spain's twentieth century was a fertile one. It produced some truly notable offspring -- novels that cross genre boundaries to find innovative forms, and treatises that fuse literature and philosophy in new ways. In her illuminating interdisciplinary study of Spanish fiction of the "Silver Age," Roberta Johnson places this important body of Spanish literature in context through a synthesis of social, literary, and philosophical history.

    Her examination of the work of Miguel de Unamuno, Pio Baroja, Azorin, Ramon Perez de Ayala, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Gabriel Miro, Pedro Salinas, Rosa Chacel, and Benjamin Jarnes brings to light philosophical frictions and debates and opens new interpersonal and intertextual perspectives on many of the period's most canonical novels.

    Johnson reformulates the traditional discussion of generations and "isms" by viewing the period as an intergenerational complex in which writers with similar philosophical and personal interests constituted dynamic groupings that interacted and constantly defined and redefined one another. Current narratological theories, including those of Todorov, Genette, Bakhtin, and Martinez Bonati, assist in teasing out the intertextual maneuvers and philosophical conflicts embedded in the novels of the period, while the sociological and biographical material bridges the philosophical and literary analyses.

    The result, solidly grounded in original archival research, is a convincingly complete picture of Spain's intellectual world in the first thirty years of this century. Crossfire should revolutionize thinking about the Generation of '98 and the Generation of '14 by identifying the heterogeneous philosophical sources of each and the writers' reactions to them in fiction.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4967-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-15)

    A friend of Miguel de Unamuno once expressed surprise that he was employing his time and intelligence in writing a novel when he could be working on a serious book. Unamuno momentarily rose to the bait, defensively replying that he was soon to begin a work of philosophy. His sense of his own mission quickly returned, however, when the friend wished to know his definition of philosophy—did he divide it into Ontology, Cosmology and Theodicy?¹ Unamuno held such categorical divisions in contempt, and he likewise rejected the artificial barriers set up between literature and philosophy: “El filósofo sólo nos...

  5. 1 THE GENERATION OF ’98: EARLY PHILOSOPHICAL AND PERSONAL WARS
    (pp. 16-34)

    Unamuno’s, Baroja’s and Martínez Ruiz’s early interests in philosophy were formed in the late nineteenth-century debates over 1) the place of the will and the intellect in human life, deriving from Nietzsche and Schopenhauer; 2) the role of environment in shaping human destinies, inspired by Darwin, Taine and socialist theories; 3) the nature of time and history, fueled by Hegel, Nietzsche and Bergson; and 4) the relative importance of scientific inquiry and artistic endeavor, informed by Spencer, Ruskin, Carlyle and Nietzsche. Krausism laid the metaphysical and practical groundwork upon which these controversies could build. As a philosophical movement, Krausism lasted...

  6. 2 UNAMUNO: A BOLD NEW HYBRID
    (pp. 35-48)

    In 1902, after nearly a decade of journal writing, attempts at serious treatises (some aborted, some published) and several sallies into the novelistic arena, Unamuno, Baroja and Martínez Ruiz each produced a novel of clear philosophical overtones that made an indelible mark on the history of Spanish fiction in this century. These are Unamuno’sAmor y pedagogía, Baroja’sGamino de perfecciónand Martínez Ruiz’sLa voluntad.¹ The polemical generation now submerged its personal and philosophical conflicts in the camouflage afforded by characters, dialogue and plot. All three philosophical novels embody the ’98 quandaries over will and determinism, idea and matter,...

  7. 3 BAROJA: A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF WILL
    (pp. 49-69)

    While neither Baroja nor Martínez Ruiz was as penetrating a student of philosophy as was Unamuno, their novels of 1902—Camino de perfeccíonandLa voluntad—are fueled by the same triangle of religious faith, science and idealistic philosophy that undergirdsAmor y pedagogía. Baroja’s and Martínez Ruiz’s first philosophical novels are interrelated, stimulated by their friendship, mutual experiences, philosophical reading and conversation (and perhaps envy, at least on Martínez Ruiz’s part). Not coincidentally the protagonists of both novels are out-of-step with the Spanish bourgeois milieu; both try to find solace for their intellectual and artistic souls within a labyrinth...

  8. 4 MARTÍNEZ RUIZ: AN ANSWER TO BAROJA’S SOLUTION
    (pp. 70-87)

    Compared to Baroja or Unamuno, the early Martínez Ruiz was more interested in social and political theory than in metaphysics, and he was a more strident and open critic of the previous generation in the 1890s. The themes of the nature of time, reality and the will versus the intellect that drew the attention of Unamuno and Baroja in the 1890s only emerged at the beginning of the century in Martínez Ruiz’sDiario de un enfermoandLa voluntad, in the wake of his association with Baroja and their conversations on Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. The Alicantine writer seems to have...

  9. 5 UNAMUNO: LAST ATTACK ON RATIONALISM
    (pp. 88-104)

    Unamuno and Azorín, whose writing careers were more diverse than Baroja’s, did not publish any more novels until the second and third decades respectively (although each paid tribute toDon Quixoteon the occasion of its third centenary in 1905). Baroja, however, found his professionalmétierin the novel and continued to produce longer works of fiction at the rate of one or two a year. The social criticism and philosophical disquisition combined with adventure story elements that forgedCamino de perfectíonbecame a formula for novel writing in Baroja’s prolific first decade, although philosophical discourse did not again play...

  10. 6 BAROJA: FAREWELL TO THE PHILOSOPHICAL NOVEL
    (pp. 105-120)

    IfNieblais obliquely related to Ortega’s reintroduction of rationalism into Spain’s struggle to gain a foothold in the Western philosophical tradition,El árbol de la ciencia, whose protagonist also contends with rationalistic-idealistic philosophies, is even more palpably associated with Ortega’s neo-Kantian writings of the first decade. Ortega and Baroja met in 1906 when by coincidence they found themselves on the same train to Paris. Baroja was on his way to London for his first look at Dickens’s England, and Ortega was returning to his studies in Germany. They shared a compartment on that train and conversed all the way...

  11. 7 THE GENERATION OF ’14: TAKING THE LEAD
    (pp. 121-132)

    If the philosophical and aesthetic consciousness of the Generation of ’98 was formed in dissension with nineteenth-century ideas and literary figures, the Generation of 1914 coalesced in its

    awareness of and distancing from the Generation of ’98.¹ All the members of the 1914 Generation wrote on one or all of the most prominent writers associated with the ’98, muses who inspired both reverance and ridicule. While devoting serious attention to the ’98 writers in essays, they mocked them in their novels.¹ Ideas and authors that had been problematic, even anathema, to the ’98—Europe, rationalism, science, Krausism, Galdós, Clarín—return...

  12. 8 PÉREZ DE AYALA: PARODY WED TO AESTHETIC THEORY
    (pp. 133-153)

    Born in 1880 in Asturias, Ramón Pérez de Ayala began his literary career with articles inEl Progreso de Asturiasin 1901, the same year that his professor Clarín died and about ten years after Unamuno, Baroja and Martínez Ruiz first appeared in the periodical press. Although he is frequently associated with the Generation of ’98, especially in his early novels,¹ his work betrays none of the anger and hostility toward the late nineteenth-century authors, ideas and narrative styles that characterized the earlier generation.² Pérez de Ayala returned to many of the values of his grandfathers, while parodying the concerns...

  13. 9 JUAN RAMÓN JIMÉNEZ AND GABRIEL MIRÓ: KÜNSTLERROMANE
    (pp. 154-171)

    Pairing Juan Ramón Jiménez, known primarily as a poet, and Gabriel Miró, exclusively a narrator, makes most sense at the philosophical level. The philosophical concerns revealed inPlatero y yo(written between 1906 or 1907 and 1914, the definitive version published in 1917) andEl humo dormido(written in 1917 to 1918 and published as a book in 1919) are remarkably similar. Both works defy generic categories by mixing lyricism, philosophical observation and fable in a series of vignettes narrated in first person. Each vignette contains a philosophical message that builds toward a comprehensive theory of how consciousness welds memory...

  14. 10 SALINAS, CHACEL, AND JARNÉS: THE VANGUARDIST PHILOSOPHICAL NOVEL
    (pp. 172-189)

    While Pedro Salinas, Rosa Chacel and Benjamín Jarnés continued to explore the same philosophical issues of perception, consciousness and language that had absorbed Juan Ramón Jiménez and Gabriel Miró, the younger writers, whose careers all began in the vanguardist 1920s, recast these problems in a light-hearted, playful mode. They continued to subvert conventional genre models through fragmentation and unorthodox narrrative techniques begun by the ’98 and intensified by Miró and Juan Ramón, but the philosophical purpose of these devices is leavened with humor. If Miró and Juan Ramón embarked upon a quest to find linguistic means to express the relationship...

  15. POSTSCRIPT
    (pp. 190-191)

    The marriage of philosophy and fiction in the first third of Spain’s twentieth century was a fertile one. It produced some truly notable off-spring—novels that cross genre boundaries to find innovative forms and treatises that fuse literature and philosophy in new ways. Initially it was a marriage of convenience and necessity. Unamuno, Baroja and Martínez Ruiz gravitated to the novel’s dialogic capabilities to air the conflicting claims of nineteenth-century philosophies that vied for their attention during their formative years. The early results are some of the first modernist novels in the European canon. The novel continued to serve Unamuno’s,...

  16. NOTES
    (pp. 192-216)
  17. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 217-225)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 226-234)