Pedro Antonio de Alarcón Biography


ph_0111207177-Alarcon.jpg Pedro Antonio de Alarcón Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (ahl-ahr-KAWN) was born on March 10, 1833, in Guadix, a small town in the province of Granada. Unable because of family poverty to study law at the University of Granada, as he dreamed of doing, Alarcón was urged toward the priesthood. At heart, however, he wanted to write, and Sir Walter Scott, Victor Hugo, and Alexandre Dumas claimed more of his time than his studies. While still in college, he decided to write a series of four novels to be set at the four compass points. He started with a tale of the north, Brunhilde: Or, The Last Act of Norma (also known as The Final Aria of Norma), with local color gleaned from guidebooks on Spitzberg.

With a friend, Alarcón founded a periodical devoted to literature, science, and art. He also wrote a play which pleased its audience but was lampooned by critics. With the outbreak of war in Africa in 1859, he enlisted to serve as a soldier-reporter. He returned with a manuscript of his experiences that earned him enough money to finance a trip to Naples, Italy, to write another travel book.

The years 1872-1884 marked Alarcón’s greatest literary activity. Several novels, including The Scandal in 1875 and The Child of the Ball (also called The Infant with the Globe) in 1880, were published during this period, as were some of the novellas at which he excelled. One of the best is the 1874 work The Three-Cornered Hat, based...

(The entire section is 466 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Pedro Antonio de Alarcón was the fourth of ten children born to a once-prosperous family come upon hard times. Neither his family’s circumstances nor the impoverished environment of Guadix, in southern Spain, served his educational needs well. He had to get his high school diploma in Granada, and once he settled, in his late teens, on a vocation as a man of letters, he knew he would have to leave Guadix in order to establish a career. By the age of twenty-two, he had managed to place himself in Madrid, the active center of Spain’s literary life, having previously had some experience as editor of provincial periodicals, having published a first novel, and having contributed stories and sketches to several of the best-known literary journals in the capital. Thus, success came very quickly for this precocious youngster, and between 1855 and 1860 (when he left Madrid to report on the war in North Africa), he made his name prominent by a flood of articles, poems, stories, and sketches, out of which he culled enough material to provide a three-volume book publication called Cuentos, artículos y novelas (1859; tales, articles, and novels), a remarkably productive record for a youth of twenty-six.

His work as a war correspondent marked a change of direction for Alarcón which lasted through the decade of the 1860’s. He became deeply involved in politics, was elected to the legislature, and gradually shifted his posture from the revolutionary...

(The entire section is 436 words.)