So I begin Spanish Literature Month, as I hope to end it, with Ramón del Valle-Inclán, a writer more famous for his work as a playwright and who belonged to a group – along with Unamuno and Baroja – called the generation of 98, who appear, as far as I can tell, to reject realism – and support both modernism and post-modernism, but whose contribution, rather like that of the Russian writers of the Silver Age, is, for the sake of a Gallo-Germano-Celticism, conveniently ignored.
Valle-Inclán wrote a quartet of novellas based on the seasons, the recollections of the Marquis of Bradomín, a now aged aristocrat reflecting back on the romantic adventures of his youth. The Marquis is a kind of Don Juan figure (though he denies it; and, of course, Don Juans can come in many guises), his hero and text is Casanova; yet the loves he portrays are not manipulative loves but, if they end tragically, at least are genuinely felt. Romanticism is the keynote here: as is the case too sometimes with Unanumo and Baroja: the denial of realism leads to a world of adventure and overwhelming passions. In the Spring story, he falls for a young lady – an innocent – who is soon to enter a convent; in the Summer story, he travels to Mexico – in an attempt to forget another unrecounted love – and falls for a Mexican woman who has a sinister secret.