Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Pío Baroja (bah-ROH-hah) wrote short stories, essays, memoirs, and verse in addition to his many novels. Some of his novels are written in dialogue; in fact, Anthony Kerrigan presents The Legend of Juan de Alzate as a play in his introduction to The Restlessness of Shanti Andía, and Other Writings. Among Baroja’s last books are his seven volumes of Memorias (1955), in which he availed himself of whole sections lifted from his fiction, which is, in turn, often autobiographical.

Baroja’s first book was a collection of short stories, Vidas sombrías (1900; somber lives), which demonstrated a sympathetic tenderness for his characters that would diminish as his literary career advanced. Some of the stories are very short slice-of-life vignettes, and others concern the supernatural, such as “El trasgo” (the goblin) and “Medium.” Some explore the psychology of women: “Agueda” treats the romantic stirrings in the mind of a disabled girl in the manner of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie (1944), and “Lo desconocido” (“The Unknown”) probes the sudden and temporary urge of a bourgeois woman, traveling on a train with her husband, to flee the confines of the coach into the fascination of the night beyond. Others of these early stories contain the nuclei of future novels, such as “Un justo” (a just man), which prefigures El cura de Monleón and “Los panaderos” (the bakers), which anticipates the trilogy The Struggle for Life.


(The entire section is 635 words.)