Vicente Blasco Ibáñez Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (BLAHS-koh ee-BAHN-yays) wrote early romances, including such works as the novella El conde Garci-Fernández (1928),¡Por la patria! (Romeu el guerrillero) (1888), La araña negra (1928; a collection of short fiction), and¡Viva la república! (1893-1894). Blasco Ibáñez later repudiated these early romances as unworthy of preservation. Blasco Ibáñez also wrote short stories and novelettes, including Fantasías, leyendas, y tradiciones (1887), El adiós a Schubert (1888; stories of a distinctly romantic nature and quite different from the author’s mature pieces), and, later Cuentos valencianos (1896), La condenada (1899), El préstamo de la difunta (1921), Novelas de la costa azul (1924), and Novelas de amor y de muerte (1927). His nonfiction includes Historia de la revolución española, 1808-1874 (1890-1892), París: Impresiones de un emigrado (1893), En el país del arte (1896; In the Land of Art, 1923), Oriente (1907), Argentina y sus grandezas (1910), the thirteen-volume Historia de la guerra europea de 1914 (1914-1919), El militarismo mejicano (1920; Mexico in Revolution, 1920), the three-volume La vuelta al mundo de un novelista (1924-1925; A Novelist’s Tour of the World, 1926); Una nación secuestrada: Alfonso XIII desenmascarado (1924; Alfonso XIII Unmasked: The Military Terror in Spain, 1924), Lo que será la república española: Al país y al ejército (1925), Estudios literarios (1933), and Discursos literarios (1966); and one play, El juez (pb. 1894). Translations of many of Blasco Ibáñez’s short stories have been collected in The Last Lion, and Other Tales (1919) and The Old Woman of the Movies, and Other Stories (1925).


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Vicente Blasco Ibáñez is probably the most widely read Spanish novelist, both in Spain and abroad, except for Miguel de Cervantes. Certainly he was one of the most prolific writers his country ever produced (his collected works run to forty volumes) a result of his extraordinarily dynamic and energetic nature and of his determination to show both the positive and the negative aspects of Spain to his countrymen and to the world.

Blasco Ibáñez has not received a balanced judgment from literary critics. Most have offered exaggerated praise or scorn for his works or have ignored him altogether. For many years, many Spanish critics denied the value of his novels because they rejected his radical political ideas, they envied his financial success, or they held a low opinion of his literary origins. (Blasco Ibáñez did not participate in some of the stylistic renovations of the generación del 98, or the Generation of ’98, adhering instead to many of the realistic-naturalistic practices of the nineteenth century, thought by many to be out of date.) While Blasco Ibáñez’s attacks on the Spanish political scene and eventual millionaire status led to ostracism by his Spanish contemporaries, such English-speaking critics as William Dean Howells, Havelock Ellis, Walter Starkie, Gerald Brenan, A. Grove Day, and Edgar Knowlson, Jr., offered a fairer perspective.

Certainly there are significant defects in some of Blasco Ibáñez’s works. Without question, his early Valencian novels represent his greatest achievement, revealing a powerful double legacy that cannot be ignored: a pictorial, concrete, at times poetic style of strength and beauty, and a striking portrayal of human action. Later in his career, as Blasco Ibáñez strayed farther and farther from the format and the setting he knew best, the aesthetic value of his novels declined dramatically. While a definitive study of his total literary production remains to be done, analyses of individual novels have at least offered glimpses into the genuine artistry of his best works.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Anderson, Christopher L. Primitives, Patriarchy, and the Picaresque in Blasco Ibáñez’s “Cañas y barro.” Potomac, Md.: Scripta Humanistica, 1995. Anderson reevaluates the novel Reeds and Mud, focusing on the portrayal of its female characters, whom he considers within the context of a male-dominated society.

Anderson, Christopher L., and Paul C. Smith. Vicente Blasco Ibañez: An Annotated Bibliography, 1975-2002. Newark, Del.: Juan de la Cuesta, 2005. Extensively annotated compilation of writings by and about Blasco Ibáñez that updates Paul Smith’s Vicente Blasco Ibáñez: An Annotated Bibliography (1976), which lists works published between 1882 and 1974.

Day, A. Grove, and Edgar C. Knowlton. V. Blasco Ibáñez. New York: Twayne, 1972. Survey of Blasco Ibáñez’s life and canon that includes a discussion of his revolutionary influences, cosmopolitan experiences, interest in social protest and human psychology, glorification of Spain, and intense dislike of Germans.

Howells, William Dean. “The Fiction of Blasco Ibáñez.” Harper’s 131 (1915): 956-960. Howells, an American novelist and literary critic, praises Blasco Ibáñez’s literary skill.

Medina, Jeremy T. The Valencian Novels of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. Valencia, Spain: Albatros Ediciones, 1984. A study of five novels with themes relating to Valencia: The Three Roses, The Mayflower, The Cabin, The Torrent, and Reeds and Mud. Medina has written two other studies of Blasco Ibáñez’s novels, both published by Albatros Ediciones. These studies are The “Psychological” Novels of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (1990) and From Sermon to Art: The Thesis Novels of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (1998).

Oxford, Jeffrey Thomas. Vicente Blasco Ibáñez: Color Symbolism in Selected Novels. New York: Peter Lang, 1997. Analyzes the use of color in some of Blasco Ibáñez’s novels, arguing that although he was a naturalist, he often depicted life in a subjectively artificial way that belied the naturalists’ attempt to objectively portray reality.

Swain, James O. Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, General Study: Special Emphasis on Realistic Techniques. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1959. A critical study of Blasco Ibáñez’s work, with one chapter focusing on the realistic images of war in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Wedel, Alfred R. “Blasco Ibáñez’s Antipathy Toward Germans.” Revista de Istorie si Teorie Literara 35 (July-December, 1987): 3-4, 192-200. Discusses the negative portrait of Germans in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.