Azorín, Maura’s confidant in Catalonia | Culture


In addition to essayist, novelist, playwright and journalist, José Martínez Ruiz, Azorin (Monóvar, 1873-Madrid, 1967), was an anarchist, federalist, conservative and also confident. At the beginning of the 20th century, the journalist carried out information work in Catalonia to Antonio Maura, who had assumed the leadership of the Conservative Party, on the Regionalist League, the main Catalan political party during the Restoration, and its main men. The Valencian journalist, based in Madrid since 1896, traveled to Catalonia in early 1906 with the purpose of conducting a series of interviews with leading Catalan characters for the ABC newspaper. However, its overlapping objective was the commission of the one who had presided over the Government between 1903 and 1904 and would do so again between 1907 and 1909.

Upon his return to Madrid, Azorín was summoned by Maura on May 2 at the Lhardy restaurant, in the San Jerónimo race, to hand him the report. At lunch, it evokes José Payá Bernabé, main expert in the life and work of the writer, Angel Ossorio and Gallardo also attended, who in 1935 would act as defense lawyer for Lluís Companys in the trial for the proclamation of the “Catalan State of the Spanish Federal Republic”. Azorín delivered to Maura six pages, four and a half of them typed in which he detailed the origin, implementation, strategies, capabilities, vicissitudes and relations of the organization. In the rest of the paper, under the heading “Etopeya[intheoriginal[eneloriginaletopean]of the main regionalists ”, the writer made a brief description of his handwriting on the character of seven prominent Catalan. Payá Barnabé found these revealing documents in the archives of the Maura Foundation and deposited a copy in the Azorín de Monóvar House Museum, which he directed until recently.

Catalan census

In the document, Martínez Ruiz informs Maura of the extraordinary administrative apparatus of the Lliga, with “permanent offices” and “branches in the ten districts of the capital”; his collaborations with different athenaeums, centers and autonomous entities and his “good service of cars, bicycles and cars”. “All these centers provide the one thousand two hundred or one thousand five hundred auditors necessary to cover the two hundred and seventy-four polling stations of the constituency of Barcelona,” he says. The party, he says, has a “Dictionary composed of more than five hundred volumes with twenty-four thousand classified ballots” with the names and surnames of each voter. It also has “a Catalan Census” to submit applications and notes at home. “That dictionary and that census,” he emphasizes, “are the main weapons of organization of the Lliga that have served him, together with the expertise, quality and honesty of the auditors, to discover and always banish the love and scams of the caciquismo “

José Martínez Ruiz, Azorín, at the beginning of the 20th century.


José Martínez Ruiz, Azorín, at the beginning of the 20th century.

The journalist writes that “one of the great forces of the Lliga is to intervene informally in the formation of almost all the candidacies of the economic, literary and artistic societies of Barcelona, ​​whose board of directors are always in the majority.” Azorín also highlights the “close relationship” that the party maintains “with the three hundred regionalist, Catalan and autonomist centers of Catalonia and the sixty-eight newspapers that defend these ideas.” Above all, “your constant relationship and affinity with La Veu de Catalunya”, A newspaper that Enric Prat de la Riba directs at that time. The writer attributes the political initiative of the organization to Prat de la Riba, Francesc Cambó, Albert Rusiñol and Raimundo de Abadal, and warns that although the action and propaganda of the Lliga is currently limited to Catalonia, “they will soon be extended to the rest of Spain.” In that sense, Azorín points out the links established by the party with “the Autonomous Regional Fountain League of Guipúzcoa, the Galician, Valencian, Granada, Asturian, Navarre and nationalist and regionalist societies of France, Hungary, Poland, Crete, Bohemia, etc. . ”

For the historian José Álvarez Junco, “1906 is the key year” of the relationship between Catalonia and the Government of Spain because “the Spanish had shown their ugliest, most violent and militaristic face.” On November 25, 1905, the assault of “insubordinate officers” on the editorials of the satirical magazine had taken place Cu-Cut! and from the newspaper La Veu of Catalonia for the publication of a humorous vignette that the military considered injurious. These officers went unpunished, they even received the encouragement of high command of the Army and King Alfonso XIII. The action was finished off by the government of Segismundo Moret with the approval of the Law of Jurisdictions, from which the military courts would judge the crimes against the homeland and the Army. The scandal united the majority of political forces in Catalonia in the Catalan Solidaritat coalition, which demonstrated a great capacity for mobilization and in 1907 it would achieve 41 of the 44 deputies of the constituencies.

The writing of the magazine 'Cu-Cut!', After the assault.


The writing of the magazine ‘Cu-Cut!’, After the assault.

“Conservative in Spain has always meant centralist,” says Álvarez Junco, “but Maura, being a right-wing politician, was a Majorcan and could have an understanding of the Catalan problem. With this information you can be exploring how to approach Catalanism and divide it from other parties. ” The Regionalist League was the hegemonic formation of Catalan Solidaritat and this approach would soon take place, through Francesc Cambó. In 1907, with Maura at the head of the Government, the Lliga, of which Cambó was its leader with Prat de la Riba, supported in the Congress of Deputies the bill of Local Administration Law, which admitted the possibility of creating a commonwealth as First step to a regional government in Catalonia. This approach between Cambó and Maura also caused the breakup of Catalan Solidaritat by the other left-wing parties. Although at this time the initiative did not prosper due to the tenacious opposition of the oligarchies, the Republicans and the Socialists (the Commonwealth of Catalonia would not be created until seven years later), Maura had led to the division of the main Catalan electoral force.

Favorable image

In 1906, having left behind Piotr Kropotkin and Francesc Pi and Margall, Azorín had already settled in the field of conservatism and was about to be deputy for the Maura party. His devotion to the Mallorcan politician, whom he would address by letter as “illustrious boss and friend,” was at an effervescent moment. The writer of Monóvar, Payá Bernabé recalls, had locked a powerful link with Catalonia through anarchism, the poet Joan Maragall and the politician Pi i Margall, in whose Federalist Party he had militated. As a Valencian, he reads in Catalan and exchanges correspondence with several authors. Even reads Catalan nationality from Prat de la Riba. As a journalist, he has a favorable poster for having denounced in 1896 in the French press the reprisals to the hundreds of prisoners crowded in the castle of Montjuïc after the anarchist attack of the procession of the Corpus Christi of Barcelona. As a writer, he increasingly admires the cultural avant-gardes of Catalonia against the “withdrawn” atmosphere of Madrid.

During his trip to Barcelona, ​​Payá explains, he interviews, among others, Catalan newspaper directors such as Miquel dels Sants Oliver (Barcelona newspaper) or Prat de la Riba (La Veu de Catalunya), but above all, it thoroughly scans some of its interlocutors and synthesizes them. De Francesc Cambó, leader of the Lliga, writes: “What the French call a you arrived; Skilful, bold, their co-religionists expect much from their parliamentary initiatives; his illusion: to be a deputy for Barcelona; He has, as I have heard, secret aspirations for conservative leadership. Typical politician: Romanones man ”. On another party leader, Albert Rusiñol, he observes: “Good boy; a little vague, perplexed, not to say; Wonderful motorist. De Jaume Carner, founder of the Republican Nationalist Center after leaving the Lliga that would be Minister of Finance in the Second Republic, says: “Classic type of Roman; clear, energetic, rectilinear gesture; man of parliament ”.

Ildefons Suñol, founder with Carner the Republican Nationalist Center, defined it as “weak, indolent, his culture is praised; In the brief conversation I have had with him (talking about the current value of Taine’s work) I have noticed some delay in sociological and philosophical information. ” Best opinion deserved Miquel dels Sants Oliver, director of the Barcelona newspaper, and Prat de la Riba, director of La Veu de Catalunya. Of the first, he wrote: “Culture, serenity, pondering, own thinking.” On the second, he noted: “Cold, impassive; It has no word or globality [sic]; but it has a deep, exact intellect, (…) very modern. He is, in my opinion, the strongest thinker of regionalism. ” Azorín closes his etopeya with a portrait of Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who also presided over the Lliga: “Apart from the movement; a little shaken, as a classic would say; their You study politics They are more superficial than penetrating. It also lacks the word and the gift of people. ” Azorín had snooped like a detective and Maura had a political calculation guide. It wasn’t just the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

“Catalonia is a nation”

“Catalonia must be given everything it asks for in its entirety. In its entirety and without haggling. Everything and on the spot. With neatness and elegance. ” These words are not from Quim Torra or Carles Puigdemont. Not even from Oriol Junqueras. They were written and published by Azorín in 1931, in full debate of the Statute, in his article In its entirety, in which he made statements that in the current Congress of Deputies would be cause for altercation, such as “Catalonia is a nation.” The writer, who was one of the most prominent members of the Generation of 98, developed a muscular affinity with Catalonia, which he considered “the best image of Spain.” He also perceived it as “an independent nation, morally independent” and demanded that the parliamentarians of the Cortes in the statutory debate be “at the height of what reality demands in this historical moment for Spain and for Catalonia.” A few years earlier, in 1924, he adhered to the defense manifesto of the Catalan language that the intellectuals of Madrid delivered to the president of the Military Government of Spain, who supported, among others, Gregorio Marañón, Álvaro de Albornoz, Fernando de los Ríos and Ramón Gomez de la Serna. Azorín’s desire to create dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona and his emotional connection with Catalonia are the subject of an exhibition, organized by the Generalitat with the collaboration of the Casa Museo Azorín (Caja Mediterráneo Foundation) and curated by José Payá Bernabé. The sample, Azorín and Catalunya. From Joan Maragall to Lluís Companys, was exhibited in Madrid and Barcelona last year and plans to visit other cities.

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