ANTECEDENTS AND REPRESENTATIVES
Maida Watson Espener
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OP FLORIDA
I wish to express my deepest thanks to Dr Ivan
Schulman for his patience in guiding this dissertation
to completion and for his creative spirit.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . ... . vi
I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . .. .1
Botes . . . . . . . . 3
II. COSTUMBRISMO IN SPAIS AND LATIN
AMERICA: CRITICAL APPROACHES . . .. .
Notes . . . . . . .. . 1
III. COSTUMBRISMO AND NISETEENTH
CENTURY LITERARY MOVEMENTS . . . .. .IT
Notes . . . . . . . . 28
IV. COSTUMBRISMO: ITS PURPOSE . . . .. .30
Notes . . . ... . . . . 42
V. STRUCTURAL DEFINITION OF THE
CUADRO DE COSTUMBRES . . . . .. h
Inner Structure . . . . . . 4h
External Structure: General
Comments .. . . . . . .. .50
Descriptive Nature of the Cuadro . . 51
Use of Details . . ... . . .. 52
Relationship Between the Universal
and the Particular . . . ... 57
Contrast and Condensation . . . 58
Length ......... . . .. 59
Point of Viev . . . . . .. 60
Time .. . .. . . . . . 662
Action ........ ......... 6h
Language ............... 66
Characterization . . . . . .. 68
Themes ........ .... .... . . ..
Notes .... . . . . . . . 72
VI. FELIPE PARDO Y ALIAGA--A EUROPEAN
MODEL FOR PERU . . . . . . .. 80
Purpose ............... . 81
Tone . . . . . . . . .. . 95
Attitude . . . . . . . . 97
Point of View . . . ...... 99
Time . . . . . . . . .. .105
Action . . . . . . . . .. .108
Language . . . . . . . .. .109
Characterization ... . . . .. 113
Notes . . . . . . . ... .117
VII. MANUEL ASCENSIO SEGURA--THE SEARCH
FOR CRIOLLO ROOTS . . . . . . 12b
Purpose . . . . . . . . 126
Attitude and Tone . . . . . .. .130
Point of View . . . . . . .132
Time and Action . . . . . ... .137
Language ...... . . ... ... .139
Characterization . . . . . .. 145
Notes . . . . . . . . 148
VIII. BAM6N ROJAS Y CASAS--THE CUADRO
AS A REFLECTION OF SOCIAL HISTORY ... .153
Purpose . . ... . . . . 154
Tone and Attitude . . . . . . 159
Point of View . . . . . . .. 160
Time . . . . . . . . .. .162
Language ... . ..... ... 163
Characterization . . . . . .. 167
Length . . . . . . . . .. .170
Notes ............... .. 172
IX. MANUEL ATANASIO FUENTES--THE CUADRO
AS A REFLECTION OF SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT . 176
Purpose ........... ...... 17T
Tone and Attitude . . . . . .. 184
Point of View . . . . . . .. 185
Language .. ............... 190
Characterization . . . . . 194
Notes . . . ... . . . . .. 199
X. LITERATURE AND SOCIETY . . . . .. 203
Notes . . . . . . . ... 219
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . ... . 222
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . ... 229
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida
in Partial Fullnent of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
ANTECEDENTS AND REPRESENTATIVES
Maida Watson Espener
Chairman: Ivan A. Schulman
Major Department: Romance Languages
The euadro de costumbres, though a popular literary
form in Peru from 1840 to 1870, has been insufficiently
studied. As a genre, for the purposes of this study, it is
defined as a short, descriptive prose work which deals with
contemporary political and social customs; as an autonomous
rather than a dependent text tied to a related genre. As
an historical phenomenon, the Peruvian cuadro is examined
in the context of Hispanic costumbrismo, particularly its
Don-Peruvian antecedents, and as a literary portrait of
post-Independence Peruvian society.
Chapters I to V examine the theory and definition of
the genre and its antecedents in Spain and the rest of
Latin America in order to develop a structural base on
which an analysis of the euadro can be built. Chapters VI
to X are a systematic study based upon this construct of
cuadros written by the four main Peruvian costumbristas,
Felipe Pardo y Aliaga, Manuel Ascensio Segura, Ram6n Rojas
y Cafas and Mannel Atanasio Fuentes. The structural analy-
sis of these four costumbristas not only provides a broad,
detailed view of the nature of their cuadros, but points
up their similarities and differences as cultivators of
this society-oriented genre. Thus, it can be said that
Pardo y Aliaga was responsible for introducing theoretical
considerations about the function of the cuadro as a means
of analysis to change social disorders. Manuel Ascensio
Segura and Ram6n Eojas y Cafas focused attention on the
everyday life of members of the urban middle class: petty
government workers and frustrated criollos. Manuel
Atanasio Fuentes introduced the first extensive use of
types rather than scenes and vas the first costumbrista to
portray members of lover social classes and the provinces.
He desired to create panoramic views of national reality
to offset unflattering accounts written by foreigners.
The cuadro de costumbres stimulated an interest in
nineteenth century Peru in local types and themes and in
the detailed description of reality at a time of Romantic
fashion for escape into the exotic. The critical perspec-
tive channeled the social narcissism of the early
nineteenth century into a regionalism that would eventually
lead to an interest in examining at greater length and in
diverse literary forms, the real social problems of the
From 1830 to 1870 the cuadro de costumbres or the
"sketch of customs and manners" was a popular literary form
in Peru. In this thesis the term cuadro de costumbres
will be limited to short narratives of successive scenes
or descriptions of generic personalities, both regional
and national. The four major exponents of the cuadro in
this period of Peruvian letters were: Felipe Pardo y
Aliaga. Ram6n Rojas y Cafas, Manuel Ascencio Segura and
Manuel Atansio Fuentes.1 In analysing the works of these
four writers we will study the euadro as a separate
literary genre. Auxiliary costumbrista literature, such
as scenes in plays, costumbrismo elements in sketches,
short stories and novels or costumbrista poems will not be
In the course of our study, we will attempt to answer
two questions closely linked to the social and aesthetic
functions of the genre: (1) What was the general form and
content of the cuadro during this period of Peruvian let-
ters and (2) What societal structures of post-Independence
Peru does the cuadro reflect.
The question of the cuadro's value as a reflection of
the social reality of post-Independence Peru is one of the
most interesting aspects of this study. Costumbrista
writers state that their purpose in writing cuadros is to
describe the people and customs which constitute the
writers' national experience. Unfortunately, there is a
dearth of historical documentation on the societal struc-
tures of this period. Some would have us believe that
Peru's social structure at the end of the colonial period
was grafted on the republic; yet, there is evidence social
change was being generated in the political chaos of post-
Independence.2 In the face of these conflicting views, and
given the stated social function of the cuadro, its de-
tailed, systematic analysis in the above outlined terms may
provide us with a more accurate perception of both literary
and historical reality in early nineteenth century Peru.
In our analysis of the cuadro, Chapters II to V will
focus on the euadro de costumbres in Spain and Latin
America, except Peru, preliminary to a definition of the
genre's structure and purpose. Chapters VI to IX will
provide a detailed introduction to the lives, literary
creations, the purpose and themes of Felipe Pardo y Aliaga,
Manuel Ascensio Segura, Ram6n Rojas y Cafas and Manuel
Atanasio Fuentes. Finally, Chapter X will survey the
cuadro's relationship to nineteenth century Peruvian social
and literary history.
Scant critical interest has been devoted the these
four authors or to the manifestation of the cuadro as a
literary genre in Peru. Of the four, Felipe Pardo y Aliaga
and Manuel Ascensio Segura have received some formal study.
The cuadros of Ranm6 Rojas y Ca-ns and Manuel Atanasio
Fuentes have received only brief mention in literary
Critics have examined Felipe Pardo y Aliaga's poems and
plays but only Jorge Cornejo Polar in his Dos ensayos sobre
Pardo y Aliaga (Arequipa: 1967) has examined his cuadros.
One reason for this is that Pardo is best known as a poet.
Luis Monguid's study of Pardo's poetry, Poesias de Don
Felipe Pardo y Aliaga (Berkeley, 1974) provides an essen-
tial bibliography and biography of Pardo as well as useful
insights into his literary philosophy. For further biblio-
graphy on Pardo see Chapter VI.
Manuel Ascencio Segura's theatre has received the bulk
of the limited critical interest in Peruvian costumbrismo.
Segura's cuadros have been collected in Cuadros de
costumbres, 1968, whose introduction by Jorge Cornejo Polar
provides a valuable study of the cuadro's structure. For
further bibliography on Segura see Chapter VII.
2Jorge Basadre in Historfa de la repdblica del Pern
(Lima. 1963) among other writers notes a degree of social
change in this period. See Chapter X of this dissertation
for further documentation pertaining to the degree and
nature of social change in post-independence Peru.
3Our main theoretical source for this methodology is
Ren6 Wellek's and Austin Warren's definition of outer and
inner structure in Theory of Literature (New York, 1956),
COSTUMBRISMO IN SPAIN AND LATIN AMERICA:
Costumbrismo is a genre extremely difficult to define
because it is manifested through many forms of expression:
artfculos, escenas, tipos and cuadros. Noel Salomon under-
lines the difficulty of arriving at a definite condlusion
by stating that "11 est evident que du point de vue d'une
histoire littgraire rigoureuse et strict, la definition
reste vague et peut-etre source de quiproquos ou dialogue
de aourds entire les critiques."l
Still, genre distinctions need to be made. Ren6 Wellek
and Austin Warren express the essentially dynamic nature of
genres in both a synchronic and diachronic context when
they state that "The literary kind is not a mere name, for
the aesthetic convention in which a work participates
shapes its character. Literary kinds may be regarded as
institutional imperatives which both coerce and are in turn
coerced by the writer."2
The existence and the nature of institutional impera-
tives for nineteenth century Spanish literary genres is par-
ticularly important to a definition of the Peruvian cuadro.
The belief that genres were distinct and should be kept
separate was a common principle of early nineteenth century
neoclassical faith. But this belief is scantily documented
in the literary theory of the period. Writings distin-
guishing one genre from another or even expressing aware-
ness of the need for such a rationale are scarce and frag-
mentary. The suggestion has been made that for many neo-
classicists the whole notion of genre was self-evident.3
The lack of nineteenth century theoretical writings on
the subject of genre is even more evident in the case of
the cuadro. The form obtained a rather marginal literary
status because of its appearance in newspapers and its
mixed genre characteristics. In addition, its early mani-
festations have less overt formulation of literary theory
than other genres of the period.
The problem of defining a genre without clearly defined
"theoretical coercions" is compounded by the strong His-
panic tradition of mixing and overlapping genres and liter-
ary currents. In addition, some cultivators of the cuadro
confused theory and practice. Mesonero Romanos, for
example, stated in the prologue to Escenas matritense that
the cuadro should contain all the elements of the novel and
theatre in a limited, and condensed manner. But in reality
his cuadros were not condensed plays or novels. However,
if we define a genre as a body of literature having in
common (1) limited subject matter, (2) a specific stock of
literary devices and (3) one or several aesthetic purposes,
then a definition of costumbrismo may be arrived at by
establishing certain similarities of theme, technqiue and
Critics who have attempted to arrive at that kind of
definition have been of three general persuasions. They
include: (1) those who distinguish between costumbrismo as
a tendency and the cuadro as a literary genre, (2) those
who ignore such a distinction and view the cuadro only in
relation to another genre, and (3) those who see the cuadro
primarily as a reflection of the society it depicts.
The early nineteenth century cuadro as a genre is dis-
tinguishable from its costumbrista-like predecessors--works
by Calso, Zabaleta, and Quevedo--in the structure it ac-
quired as a result of its diffusion via the newspapers and
of the influence directly of Jouy, Hercier, and indirectly,
of Addison and Steele.5 It night be said that both Peru-
vian and Spanish nineteenth century costumbrismo adopt a
foreign form to express local themes. It is, as one critic
put it "una restauraci6n, una reanimacidn del espfritu
observador propiamente espaflol, bastante olvidado, a pesar
de su intermitente continuidad, provocada por las sugeren-
eiaa de afuera, utilizando moldes importados.6
This distinction between a literary trend and the genre
itself has been developed by Noel Salomon, and Mariano
Baquero Goyanes. Baquero Goyanes contrasts costumbrismo as
a genre and as a concepto general, while Salomon studies
costumbrismo's descriptive elements, what he calls "la
description anecdotique 4 la maniare habituelle des cuadros
de eostumbres" in contrast to the cuadro itself.
In contrast to that view of costumbrisno is the analy-
sis of the cuadro only in its relationship to other genres,
or as a structural part of the novel, the short story and
the essay. Margarita Ucelay da Cal. Jorge Bogliano and
Mary Cannizzo are some of the critics who have examined the
cuadro from this perspective. This line of analysis is
critically the most popular and widespread and its appeal
can be explained partly by the prestige and tradition of
other genres. Again, the brevity of the sketch, and the
ephemeral quality attributed to it because of its publica-
tion in periodicals serves to explain why at times there is
a tendency to focus critical attention on a genre related
to the cuadro rather than on the cuadro itself.
The cuadro de costumbres is sometimes considered a pre-
decessor to the late nineteenth century realistic novel and
short story, and at other times, a continuation of neoclas-
sic genres such as the satirical dialogues. Denying its
autonomy, Margarita Ucelay da Cal notes that the portrayal of
scenes and types had appeared before--in the picaresque
novel'--and Bogliano states that the cuadro vas a continua-
tion of the satirical dialogue.0 A forward looking or
precursor viev is defined by those who see the cuadro as
the predecessor of the short story.11 Others classify the
cuadro as a prospective novel, because of its interest in
reality and the pover of observation it brought to nine-
teenth century literature.12 Mary Cannizzo even distin-
guiahes between forms of the cuadro that are potentially
part of a novel and sketches that could not fit into a
Because the genre is not seen as an independent form,
explanations abound as to why it was not considered a
different genre. Mesonero's statement that there was no
public for the novel, vas followed by statements that blame
the cuadro's failure to develop into a novel on the social
crisis of Spain from 1812 to 1850. Critics state that
there was lacking "cierta calma en el escritor, cierta
tranquilidad en el piblico."l
Some of the critics who perceive the cuadro only in
relation to other genres view it as a hybrid genre. They
simply state that costumbrismo "encompasses several over-
lapping purposes and styles,"15 that the cuadro includes
the principles of the novel and the theatre,1 and that it
is a mixture of an essay and a short story,17 a satire as
well as caricature.8 The hybrid genre includes both fic-
tion--the novel, short story, theatre--nonfiction: the
essay, travel description, theatre review, folklore.19
Within the limits of this concept, costumbrismo is de-
scribed as a way to "tell a story, describe a place or
institution, or merely develop an incident or situation.20
In examining the cuadro and its relationship to the
short story or cuento, it can be said that the cuadro por-
trays the universal, while the short story individualizes
characters. The cuadro's subject matter is contemporary
events, the short story of the nineteenth century usually
concentrates on the past. The cuadro costumbrista deals
with social reality, the short story with literary re-
ality.21 In fact, during the 1830's the term cuento was
used only for popular works of fantasy. Baquero Coyanos
states: "Es nueatra hip6tesia de que hacia esoa aflos solo
se consideraban cuentos los relates de tipo fantratico o
traditional, o bien los versificados, como el que en 1842
public Guillermo Fernandes Santiago en El Semanario
Pintoresco con el titulo de "El Cometa-Cuento Hist6rico."22
Another major area of difference between the cuadro costum-
brista and the cuento is the lack of plot or of much action
in the sketch,23 though cuadro and cuento sometimes share
a singleness of thrust. The important difference between
the cuadro and the cuento is, above all, the greater degree
to which the author's personality is revealed in the
former.2 The author's identity is extremely evident in
For this reason the genre vas particularly popular
during Spain and Latin America's political chaos of the
first half of the nineteenth century. This defining
characteristic of costumbrismo becomes even more evident in
the Peruvian forms of the genre. The cuadro has also been
compared with dramatic literature, especially the theatri-
cal sketch, or sainete.2 In character types, scenes and
language, the cuadro is indeed similar to the sainete. A
moralizing author's point in the cuadro parallels the moral
or critical scene in the sainete.26
As a form of journalism, costumbrismo tends to share
traits with other, specifically non-fictional forms of
writing: essay, satire, history and literary criticism.
The fact that it is not completely fictional is directly
related to its vehicle of diffusion: the newspaper. The
development of Journalism in the nineteenth century
greatly increased the reading public and presented the
immediate problem of making serious subjects light.2 In
addition, pamphlets and newspapers became weapons for
political attacks and for expressing personal views. The
humorous aspect cast on non-fiction as the result of all of
these factors caused some non-fictional genres to become
fictionalized. For example, the addition of a subjective
authorial comment to literary criticism turned Larra's
theatre reviews from non-fictional literary criticism into
The relationship between satire and costumbrismo plays
a major role in the characterization of costumbrismo'and
its comparison with non-fictional literature. Some critics
who have chosen to consider Mesonero the most characteristic
figure of the costumbrista movement distinguish between his
type of costumbrismo and what they call Larra's satire.
Two kinds of costumbrismo are postulated: "un costumbrismo
agrio" practiced by Larra and "un costumhris o risuelo y
pintoresco" practiced by Mesonero Romanos an'd Estebanez.
The idea that satire and costumbrismo are somehow quite
different is presented indirectly by Correa Calder6n, who
states that Larra seemed to combine the two genres most
Other critics, though, have included satire as a part
of costumbrista expression. Diana Berkowitz define satire
as somethingg that rejects the social norm itself and
attacks the status quo as deficient in comparison with
abstract moral ideas."30 She considers Larra's satirical
expression as an integral part of costumbrismo. Often,
critics who include Larra's satire as part of costumbrismo,
view his satire as non-traditional. Jorge Bogliano
distinguishes between Larra's satire and the traditional
sort, but does not clarify his definition of traditional
satire, that is whether it is Roman or eighteenth-century
Spanish. According to him the "vena satfrica"31 is ex-
pressed in a new structure, the cuadro de costumbres. The
theme remains constant; the form changes.
Because of the fact that it includes both fictional
and non-fictional components, the cuadro de costumbres has
also been compared to the cr6nica, tale and the account.
The thematic point of reference between these forms and
the cuadro lies in the common concern with the description
of social reality. However, costumbrismo differs from
these non-fictional forms in the greater fictional cre-
ativity brought to the description of external events. The
use of dialogue, monologue, satire, and moral observa-
tion 2--all these make costumbrismo a literary genre
separate and distinct from folklore, history or the cr6nica.
A third group of critics have defined costumbrismo in
a completely different way. They view the cuadro mainly in
its relationship to society. This concept is one that
underlies Noel Salomon's study of costumbrismo. As he
states, "On s'apergoit vite que sous la plume des uns et
des autres le mot envelope des contenus assez divers et
qui peuvent varier en function des societ4s observes. 1
arrive aussi que la perspective politico-sociale--le point
de vue de classes de 1'auteur ou de son public-nuance son
'costumbrismo'.33 Similarly, D. L. Shav has seen in
costumbrismo a direct relationship to movements of either
political liberalism and Europeanization, as expressed by
Larra, or political reaction and casticismo as expressed by
Mesonero and his followers.
Our definition of costumbrismo will be eclectic. Its
structural limits will be: prose and short length; its
unifying principle: theme and purpose.
INoel Salomon, "A propos de 616ments 'costumbristas'
dans e 'Facundo' de D. F. Sarmiento," Buletin Hispanique,
LXX, No. 3-4 (1968), 342.
2Vellek and Warren, Theory of Literature, p. 226.
3Ibid., p. 229.
Evariato Correa Calder6n, ed., "Introducci6n al studio
del costumbrisno espaeiol," in Costumbristas espafoles, I
(Madrid, 1950), xxvi.
5Margarita Uceley da Cal, Los esoafoles vintados por si
aismos (184.3-18h): Estudio de un genero costumbrista
(Mexico, 1951), p. 16.
Correa Calder6n, p. xxxii.
Mariano Baquero Goyanes, El cuento espafiol en el siglo
XIX (Madrid, 19h9), xxxii.
Salomon, p. 345.
9Ueelay da Cal, p. 7T.
10Jorge E. Bogliano, "La descendencia de Larra. El
articulo de costumbres hispano-americano," Primeras jorna-
nadas de lengua y literature hisDano-americana, Acta
Salmanticensia, I, No. 10 (1956), 1h0-1h1.
11Mary Cannizzo, "Costumbrismo in Chilean Prose Fic-
tion," (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University,
1972), p. 5k.
12Ucelay da Cal, p. 168.
13Canniszo, p. 1.
4Correa Calder6n, p. xxvi.
15Dfana Berkovitz, "The Nature of Larra's Prose: An
Analysis of the Articulos," (unpublished Ph.D. disserta-
tion, Columbia University, 1971), p. 52.
16Ram6n de Mesonero Romanos, "Introducci6n," Escenas
Matritenses (Madrid, 1842), p. v.
17Ucelay da Cal, p. 17.
18Dieterich Arena, "Lo romantico y lo modern en Larra,"
Bevista del Occidente, V, no. 50 (May 1967), 213.
19Correa Calderon, p. lvii.
20Montgomery, Early "Costumbrista" Writers, p. 19.
21Jose F. Montesinos, Costumbrismo y novel, 2nd ed.
(Madrid, 1965), p. 34.
22Baquero Goyanes, El cuento espaool, p. 62.
23Canniszo, p. T.
2bjorge Cornejo Polar, Sobre Segura (Arequipa, 1970),
25The sainete is a short, humorous satirical playlet
with picturesque Madrid types.
26Frank Duffey, The "cuadro de costumbres" in Colombia,
(Chapel Hill, 1950), p. 1; F. Courtney Tarr. "Romanticism
in Spain," Publications of the Modern Language Association,
IV (19 0), k.
2TUcelay da Cal, pp. 30-31.
28Arturo del Hoyo, "Larra, pobrecito hablador," Insula,
188/189, p- 4.
29Correa Calder6n, p. 1xviv.
30Berkovitz, p. 89.
31Bogliano, p. 141.
32Cornejo Polar, Sobre Sexura, p. 71.
33Salomon, p. 342.
34Donald Leslie Shaw, The Nineteenth Century (London,
1972), pp. 44- 7.
COSTUMBRISMO AND NINETEENTH CENTURY
Few definite statements have been made regarding the
relationship of the cuadro de costumbres to Spanish literary
romanticism and neoclassicism. This critical void may he
the result of costumbrismo's lack of a clearly defined
doctrine, with concrete preferences regarding form, con-
tent, or purpose. Despite this lack of an articulated
philosophy, costumbrismo in addition to being a genre, as
we saw in Chapter II, was a literary movement in its own
right, with a following of readers larger than most other
genres in Spain or Latin America could command in this
period.1 As a literary movement, it manifested its funda-
mentally hybrid nature andas might be expected, straddled
the boundaries of romanticism, neoclassicism and realism.
Costumbrismo has been divided into two varieties: "el
costumbrismo romantic" which would include Mesonero
Bomanos, Larra and Estdbanez Calderon, and "costumbrismo
realist" which includes Las colecciones de tipos de
Antonio Flores. Critics wishing to make general state-
ments have defined costumbrismo with and without Larra.
Since Mesonero and Est6banez's examples are less contro-
versial than Larra's, critics have attempted to define the
genre's characteristics by using the works of Mesonero and
Estebanez as archetypes. Estibanez has been described as
"a romantic, even though he represents a bridge between
neoclassicism and realism."
All of the Spanish costumbristas were members of the
Par asillo, the 1830 tertulia that attacked the pseudo-
classicism of their day. Yet "they formulated no creed,
they contemplated no constructive action, and they founded
no school." The differences between each author were
greater than any similarities between then, yet they
represented literary movements which were not clearly
separated from each other.
The first of the nineteenth century literary movements,
neoclassicism, involved in Spain an imitation of the
classic Greek and Roman writers and the French classical
theatre as well as a belief in rule and order. Neoclassi-
eisa, like many other movements in Spain, was open to
profoundly personal interpretations. Jos6 Montesinos
points out that one definition of the classics included
the Spanish classics: Cervantes, Quevedo and the
The Spanish classical writers heavily influenced all
three of the Spanish costumbristas: Mesonero. Larra and
Estebamez. Larra copied whole passages from Cervantes;
Mesonero vas a man of classical tastes in the midst of a
romantic society. Estibanez's obsession with lo castizo
and archaic words was sufficiently intense to seriously
interfere with his style.
The neoclassical mind in general favored universal
types: the typical miser, the typical faithless daughters.
Such an interest in the typical was a deeply rooted charac-
teristic of costumbrismo, whether in Larra, Mesonero or
Estdbanez. The collections of types, an example of which
is Los espsaoles pintados por si nismos, that were popular
through the third decade of the nineteenth century attest
to the enduring interest in typology.
Despite the intense romantic nature of his personal
life, Larra in many ways exemplified the neoclassicism of
costumbrismo. His love for the abstract, the critical
quality of his mind, his preoccupation with ideas rather
than things, and his enthusiasm for reform and progress
placed him, in many ways, within the current of eighteenth
century European Enlightenment, rather than within the
early Spanish Christian Romanticism of the Bohl controversy.
Diana Berkowitz has shown that he held the traditional
Enlightenment belief in reform from above and the nine-
teenth century liberal, laissez-faire beliefs in the
existence of unlimited opportunities for talent to assert
itself, and ineducation as a cure for man's evils.11
The relationship of costumbrismo vith the second move-
ment of the period. Romanticism, is the one which has
produced the greatest amount of controversy. Costumbrismo
shared with Romanticism an interest in the popular and
picturesque, the use of regional themes and a belief in
progress. It differed from Romanticism in its emphasis on
present rather than past time and its descriptive tech-
nique. Ideologically, costumbrismo both shared and dis-
agreed with the two main movements in Romanticism, the
early Catholic tradition and the later liberal European
ideas. The interest of both costumbrismo and of Romanti-
cism in the popular and regional has caught the attention
of some critics, who have considered costumbrismo a current
of Romanticism. As Valera said, costumbrismo is "el mis
sabroso fruto de uns direcciin magistral del romanticismo
qae conducfa atenci6n y gusto hacia lo peculiar, carac-
terlstico, particular o indigena, ya que en lo aut6ctono
e incontaminado adivinaba lo singular de cada naci6n o
comarca."l2 Other critics have affirmed this relation-
ship13 but associated it even more closely vith the
romantic interest in the pictorial, or the picturesque.
The relationship between costumbrismo and the graphic
arts in France, England, and Spain, further reinforces
this link between the appeal of the popular and the pic-
torial. The costumbrista author saw the world with the
eyes of a painter, or miniatures. A literary enamelist
painted with words instead of pigments. This interest in
the pictorial led costumbristas to dedicate much attention
to background and setting.
The function of the author as observer, as careful
scribe, characterized the costumbrista's description of
Nature. Their presentation of nature must be distin-
guished from the Romantic author's technique. The Roman-
tics viewed reality through the particular hue of their
won individual emotional state.1 Even though costum-
bristas included examples of Romantic nature description
(i.e., Larra's "Dia de Difuntos"), these tended to be quite
It is not the existence of detailed descriptions in one
literary movement and the absence in another that distin-
guishes between costumbrismo and Romanticism. In both
types of literary creation, detail abounds. As Wellek and
Warren state, "detailed attention to setting, whether in
drama or the novel, is Romantic or Realistic (i.e.,
nineteenth century) rather than universal.15 In costum-
briata description, detail achieves significance of itself,
while in Romanticism, detail acquires significance based on
its ascription to the author's emotions.
This is not to say that details in costumbriamo are
always presented without the particular emotional tone
imparted to them by authorial choice. In Mesonero, for
example, details of clothing acquire thematic significance.
In Estebanez the pleasure he experienced in presenting
details, his Joy in the printed word may be seen in the
vivid descriptions of Andalusian folk dances. Costum-
brismo was not the product of a photographic vision, of a
noninvolved tool like the camera. Its purposes, though
they may seem small and limited at times, are evident in
the choice of objects brought together and portrayed.
Faith in progress has been associated with costumbrismo.
This association has often caused it to be identified with
Romanticism. Larra was a strong believer in progress.
Mesonero and Estibanez also expressed this belief. Never-
theless, Spanish costumbristas and Romantics differed in
their analysis of man's innate capability to achieve prog-
ress. Many of the Romantics believed that society's evils
could be remedied through education and progress. Costum-
bristas,on the other hand, were much more doubtful about
The costumbrista's fundamental preference for present
time was caused by several factors: the cuadro's vehicle
of diffusion, the newspaper, whose readers were interested
in events of yesterday and today; and the didactic purpose
of the genre, to make society change its contemporary
habits. Events of the past were of interest to costum-
bristas only when they could, as in Mesonero's case, pro-
vide an alternative model for unacceptable present day
Costumbrismo's interest in the popular and regional
can be interpreted as a current differing from the Roman-
tie movement, whose proponents were usually concerned with
exotica. However, the popular and picturesque were
closely related to the traditional and, in addition,
they had an exotic charm for authors who lived in urban
centers or cultivated a universal view of life. Visiting
countrymen and Andalusian dancers were both geographically
and socially distant from middle class authors like
Mesonero and Est6banez, particularly when seen from the
perspective of a mock visiting foreigner.
Finally, the complex nature of the Romantic movement
in Spain caused eostumbristas to attack quite different
aspects of it. Mesonero's famous "El romanticismo y los
romLnticos" (1837)17 has caused some critics to catalogue
him as anti-romantic. But a close reading of the work
shows that what he disliked was the Romantics' ideas and
habits, not their literary techniques. Romanticism was
first identified with the Catholic and Hispanic tradition.
When liberal European ideas entered Spain vith European
Romanticism, Mesonero decried the "new" Romanticism and
satirized it in 1837.
In contrast to easonero, Larra's attack on the Roman-
tica was made against their superficiality, their lack of
contact with the social reality surrounding them. Like
Mesonero, but for radically different political reasons,
Larra believed that the euadro should reflect social
reality. He felt that romantic melancholia and idealistic
escapism prevented the reader's understanding of reality
and thus impeded changing the structure of existing
Concern vith reality--in Larra's case because of an
unshakeable conviction that it should be changed, in
Mesonero Romano and Estebanez's because of nostalgia and
patriotism--has caused the cuadro de costumbres to be
labeled as a form of realism. Since the word realism
tends to be associated vith a definite literary movement
that appeared in Spain around the second half of the
nineteenth century, the cuadro for chronological reasons
has often been called a precursor of realism. The thesis
of Montesino's book, Costumbrismo y novel, is that the
cuadro caused Spanish literature to pay attention once
again to reality as a thematic concern, in contrast to the
idealized world created by the romantics. Neither
Montesinos nor any other critic has denied the existence
of a strong vein of realistic tradition in Spanish litera-
ture, though few have distinguished between Realism as a
literary movement and Realism as a fundamental trait of
If we theorize that a literary movement may be defined
as a self-conscious phenomena, it can be assumed that
Realism vill occur at any time that authors deliberately
choose to portray reality in some specific fashion. Such
was the case with costumbrismo. Authors of the cuadro de
costumbres were consciously concerned with the portrayal
of reality, for the variety of reasons given above, and
they expressed this Concern in prologues. As Margarita
Ueelay DaCal has said: "El realismo de nuestra literature,
su tradicidn moralista y satfrica--que ya arranca de
Seneca y Marcial--la falta de afici6n para el pensamiento
abstract, el sentido pict6rico y el gusto por la repro-
duccind de la realidad inmediata, son indicaciones de que
el coatumbrismo cuadraba perfectamente con el carctter
estdtico national.19 Not only did costumbrismo's por-
trayal of reality continue a long standing trend in
Spanish literature, but this portrayal can be considered
to be Realism in two other ways: (1) it differed from the
Romantics' interpretation of reality and (2) it was the
only prose of its time to concern itself with social
In contrast to Romanticism, the cuadro's vision of
reality in our view was more objective. It was "algo que
podemos conocer por experiencia propia, algo vivo asn en
nuestras circunstancias; en los cuentos la fabulacidn no
tiene trabas, se mueve en el abito infinite del ensuefo."
Subject matter was presented in the cuadro as "realidades
nada misteriosas ni ocultas, las otras son casi todas
fanttsticas.20 Thus, the enadro was concerned with a
reality that was everyday; that might be observed by any-
one alive; that was explicit, not mysterious or hidden.
Certain inherent restrictions on the portrayal of reality,
unvoiced but formulated in the customs and traditions of
the costumbrista sketch, created a different version of
reality, and these restrictions in our view made the
euadro a manifestation of Realism instead of Romanticism.
Finally, the cuadro lies within the definition of Realism
by the very absence of other dominant literary productions
at the time. As D. L. Shaw has stated, "in the absence of
a genuinely Spanish novel reflecting the life of the times,
the 'Cuadro de Costumbres' must be regarded as the nearest
approach to reality which the prose of the period offer.21
In short, costumbrismo shared with Romanticism, a
belief in liberty of form and expression according to a
writer's subjective nature; with Classicism, it shared an
interest in education and in the use of literature as a
tool of historical and scientific documentation. Beyond
these similarities the strong realistic bent in costum-
brismo marks it as a literary movement of its ovn, sepa-
rate, but essentially similar to subsequent literary
Bealism, with which costumbrismo shared an overwhelming
interest in the details of everyday reality.
1ueelay da Cal, Los espaioles pintados por si mismos,
2ose Luis Varela, El costumbrismo ronmntico (Madrid,
1969), p. 10.
3Correa Calderon, Costumbristas espaholes, p. Ixxxiv.
Jorge Campos, ed., Vida y obras de D. Serafin (Madrid,
1955), p. xxxvi.
5Edgar Allison Peers, The History of the Ronantic
Movement in Spain (Cambridge, 19h0), I, p. 232.
6Montesinos, Costumbrismo y novel, p. 131.
TIbid., pp. 5 -59.
8J. R. Lomba y Pedraja. Cuatro studios en torno a
Larra (Madrid, 1936), p. 12.
9Wellek and Warren, Theory of Literature, p. 213.
10F. Courtney Tarr, "Larra's Duende satirico del dia,"
Modern Philology. 26, No. 1 (1928-29), 65.
1Berkowitz, "The Nature of Larra's Prose," pp. 249-
12Varela, p. 7.
13Baquero Goyanes, El cuento espafiol, pp. 95-96-
14Shav, The Nineteenth Century, p. 5.
15Wellek and Warren, p. 220.
16Correa Calderon, p. lxvii.
17Bam6n de Mesonero Romanos, "El romanticism y los
roa&nticos," from Panorama matritense (Sept. 1837), in
Costumbristas espacoles, ed. E. Correa Calder6n (Madrid,
1950). I, pp. 696-703.
18Gustavo Fabra Barreiro, "El pensamiento vivo de
Larra," Revista del Occidente, L (1967), 137.
19Ucelay da Cal, p. 22.
20Montesinos, p. 34.
21Shau, p. 45-
COSTUMBRISMO: ITS PURPOSE
A basic and integral part of the cuadro's inner struc-
ture is its purpose, both as expressed by the authors of
the cuadros and as deduced from these works by nineteenth
and twentieth century critics. The need to change society,
the need to educate society's literary and moral choices,
the desire to preserve Spain's ancient traditions in the
face of Europeanization, the pictorial and journalistic
urges--all these were motivational forces of the cuadro.
The varied nature of these purposes is intimately linked
to the ambivalent nature of costumbrismo as a realistic
movement during the period of Romantic fashion; its lack
of theoretical, self-consciousness and the relative free-
dom granted a minor genre by newspapers and magazines.
In this study, costumbrismo has been characterized as
a realistic movement during a period of Romantic and Neo-
elassic fashion in literary modes. The coincidence in
Spanish life of an imported literary movement--Romanticism-
and a political and social movement--the crisis of na-
tionalism following the French invasion and continuing
throughout the first half of the nineteenth century--
stimulated a response among costumbristas, both through
the cuadro and the portrait of types. As social insti-
tutions changed, educated Spaniards began to question
institutions and traditions. The natural result of this
critical spirit was to compare Spain, its traditions and
social structure to the rest of Europe, primarily to
France. A conflict between the belief that Spain should
Europeanize and the belief that Spain should return to the
way of life preceding the French invasion found a battle-
ground in the cuadro. The social purpose of the cuadro
dominated any aesthetic purpose, except for a limited
number of sketches that expressed pleasure in the pictorial
and thus were products of the principle of art for art's
sake. Yet costumbrismo was not devoid of aesthetic
qualities. On the contrary, the pictorial inclinations of
the movement, often led to detailed reconstructions of
scenes and a close relationship between art and literature
which Fontanella studies in connection with the develop-
ment of technology and the graphic arts.1
Basic to the conflict between nationalism and
Europeanization was the didactic purpose of the cuadro.
The Horatian delectare et prodesse, that is, instruction
in a light fashion,2 vas basic to the cuadro, even though
Larra and Mesonero presented radically different lessons
to be learned. The didactic purpose of the cuadro was a
continuation of the eighteenth century Hispanic neoclassi-
cal tradition. In addition, its emphasis on education as
a solution to man's ills continued the picaresque tradition
of the counter-Reformation of reformerr las malas costum-
bres." But it also reflected the nineteenth century
scientific spirit which pointed to the need to study every-
thing and find laws of nature to help solve man's problems.
Jose Montesino remarks on these basic problems when he
says that Mesonero's moralizing costumbrismo forgot the
basic purpose of costumbrismo: "estudiar el estado moral
y los resorts morales de la sociedad presente.3 Costum-
brismo was to create a new kind of history, a social
Prospectuses for newspapers which disseminated the
cuadros reflected the intimate relationship between educa-
tion and costumbrismo. The introduction to El siglo
pintoresco (I845) stated that the newspaper would be "una
aerie de articulos enciclop6dicos," and an unsigned
article in a periodical, aptly titled Instructor, stated
that "la Educacidn es el fin principal del Instructor, la
recreacidn serl el objeto secundario."5
During the nineteenth century, scientific inquiry was
infused with an almost mystical spirit; the scientist
played the role of the "savant" who could discern truth in
Nature. This concept is portrayed in the cuadro through a
part often played by the author as the objective observer
who reports the true nature of events to the reader. Noel
Salomon points this out when he studies the part played by
the rastreador in Facundo or Larra's old shoemaker in
*Modos de vivir que no dan de vivir: Oficios menudos."
The outstanding example of the scientific spirit in costum-
brismo is found in its study of types. With the study of
physiologies and the science of cranioscopy, the social
type played a role in literature similar to that of an
animal or vegetable classification. The portrayal of
types, as veil as the very structure of Spanish costum-
brismo, will be analyzed closely later on. For the moment
suffice it to say that the type became the most outstanding
example of the influence of the scientific spirit on
The interest in science produced two closely allied
purposes in coatumbristas as social historians and soci-
ologists in literature. Costumbrista authors spoke of a
new kind of history that costunbrismo would create, the
history of social customs. The methods used to study
other areas of the world and to educate the Spaniard about
exotic customs would be used to study Spain. By extension,
the desire to study and analyze Spain with the same care
previously used to study other parts of the world stimu-
lated an interest in faraway provinces and strange customs.
Given a nearly archeological concern for societies and for
customs about to disappear, an interest in the exotic for
its own sake developed and with it a desire to discover
differences instead of similarities.
Mesonero and his followers were most interested in the
cuadro's function as a vehicle for preserving traditional
customs. As Montesinos notes: "Los colaboradores de
Mesonero y de los que en la direcci6n del Semanario le
suceden se empiezan a dar a conocer por la palabra y la
imagen de la Espafa rec6ndita, misteriosa, multiforme--
tan bella--de las provincias lejanas, de las comarcas
perdidas en el repliegue de una serranfa." Larra's lack
of interest in costumbrismo as a preserver of quaint
customs ready to disappear underlines a basic difference
between his and Mesonero's interpretation of the purpose of
Costumbrismo. Both experienced the chaotic social change
taking place in contemporary Spain; both reacted strongly
to social realities in Spain. In some instances the sur-
face resemblances of their descriptions of social evils
and of types are strong, but Larra and Mesonero differed
radically in analyzing the causes of society's tumult and
therefore in preferring remedies for it.
Basically, Larra felt that the solution of Spain's
social problems would come when the structure of society
could be changed through education and, in general,
through Europeanization of its values and ideas. Mesonero
felt that Spain should return to its ancient moral
strength, to the ways of a simpler period when the sense
of doubt and uncertainty that pervaded Spanish society in
his time had not existed. This belief in Spanish values
has been called by names such as: casticismo, nacionalismo,
Mesonero, however, shared several beliefs with Larra.
Both believed in the basic value of their culture. Larra,
contrary to most opinions, did not advocate a slavish imi-
tation of the values of other cultures; instead he believed
that social structures must be adapted to the needs of a
particular society in transition. He believed that every
society is in a different stage of evolution; what might be
good for one society might not only be impractical, but
even harmful for another.9 Thus, the new growth of
European solutions must be grafted onto realities rooted
in Spanish life. Both Larra and Mesonero ridiculed the
empty "afrancesado", who followed French fashions and
customs while rejecting his own cultural ground. Mesonero
said: "La mayor frecuencia de los viajes exteriores, el
conocimiento muy generalizado de la lengua y la literature
francesa, el entusiasmo por sus modas y mis que todo la
falts de una educaci6n s6idamente espafola y se conocert
la necesidad de que nuestras costumbres bayan tomado un
caricter galo-hispano peculiar del siglo actual."10
Larra and Mesonero's radically different purposes
affected their choice of subject matter, techniques and
time frames. These differences are reflected even in the
extent to which they cultivated their ideologies in the
sketch. Larra's more radical aims were clearly evident in
his work. Mesonero wae less sweeping in the changes he
wished to see in Spain and he was also less successful in
presenting his ideology in his work. Larra believed
costumbrismo should study the moral character of a people
in order to change its basic societal structures. Larra's
enbject matter could thus not be limited to the quaint or
the merely pictorial. Mesonero, on the other hand did not
question the basic structures of his society. He believed
in superficial reforms and was content to present the sur-
face of events. When Montesdnos criticizes Mesonero for
moralizing instead of studying, he fails to see the under-
lying differences in purpose between Larra and Mesonero.11
Owing to their different philosophies, both Larra and
Mesonero looked to different time frames for the kind of
costumbree that should replace the chaotic customs of con-
temporary Spain. Larra saw the solutions to Spanish prob-
lems in the future; Mesonero and Estibanez, in the past.
Thus, basic choices of referential time periods underlie
what has been called Mesonerc's nationalism and his love for
lo castizo and Larra's so-called Europeanization. In
reality Larra was as patriotic as Mesonero, if nationalism
is defined as concern for Spain's welfare and not for a
return to the Spain that Mesonero and Larra might remember.
Both reacted strongly to bhe social reality that presented
itself; both wanted to effect changes.
Nesonero's moralizing attitude reflected an Hispanic
literary past: the picaresque and the literature of court
manners. Zabaleta in "El dia de fiesta por la manana" and
"El dia de fiesta por la tarde" preached against those who
did not regularly go to church on Sunday.12 Jose Clavijo
y Fajardo, in El pensador (Madrid, 1762-67) also shoved a
marked tendency to moralize.13 Mesonero continued this
tradition but changed the technique of presentation and
related it to the crisis of nationalism in his time. The
goal was still ethical education, but it was to be deduced
naturally from "descripei6n o narraci6n de los hechos,"14
rather than received in direct messages from the author.
Traditionally considered, the costumbrista's widespread
interest in portraying national customs and habits was a
reaction to descriptions of Spain by French Romantics.
Romanticism's distorted picture of Spain angered Mesonero,
above all, because he felt that these descriptions ignored
the dignity of the customs they portrayed. Mesonero
believed that the cuadros should include "la moral y la
verdad en el fondo."15 However, the relationship of
Spanish costumbristas to French Romantic writing involved
an interesting paradox. According to Ucelay da Cal, this
reaction closely entailed a love-hate relationship
Spanish affirmations of interest in national matters were
derived from a fashion of the very same Romantic school
that had created the caricatures of Spaniards that so
angered Mesonero. The Spaniards of this period "siguen
una moda forfnea que exalta lo aut6etono."17
Not only France, but England as well had developed an
interest in the portrayal of national traditions. With
the publication of Heads of the People (1840-L2) and Les
francais points par eux-memes (1810-42). Romantics pre-
sented for the first time a collective study of each
country. Jouy, a French writer who inspired Larra and
above all Mesonero, had written in 1812-1814 L'Hermite de
la Chauss4 d'Antin, and in 1817-1820 he extended his scope
to the provinces and the French colonies, writing L'Hermite
en Province and L'Hermite de la Guiane. The Spanish col-
lections showed more concern with nationalism;but at the
same time they portrayed the very same urban types as the
Furthermore, Spaniards' purpose in portraying o
aut6ctono was very personal, and lo aut6ctono was defined,
both geographically and socially, by each writer in a
different way. Larra included the whole country, but for
Mesonero, Madrid was the microcosm of Spain. As he said,
"como centro de ella es el foco en que se reunen las cos-
tumbres de las lejanas provincial."2 In the absence of
guidelines defining lo tpico. Mesonero dedicated himself
to "exaltar lo tipico y autentico del pueblo, y aimultfnea-
mente a denunciar cuanto desentona con ese ideal; el roman-
tico desorbitado, el afrancesado petimetmetre la moda
effmera que choca con nuestra idiosincrasia. Y pars que
nada falte en su labor de policia ciudadana, no perdonarg
tampoco las exageraciones y abuses de las costumbres
The concern for national matters was exemplified in
the frequent complaint of costumbrista writers that life
vas becoming more uniform in Spain and that Spaniards were
losing a sense of their own originality and uniqueness.
Montesinos even included this attitude as part of his
definition of a costumbrista writer, "no fueran costum-
bristas netos si no prorrumpieran en las concebidas quejas
sobre la nivelacidn de la vida espadola y au progresiva
adulteraci6n. 22 Because of social changes taking place
during this period, European ideas were replacing native
ideas, some slowly, some quite rapidly.
Most of the costumbristas praised Spain and complained
of the social crisis in which she found herself, but few
focused any blame on her institutions. The strongest
criticisms were leveled against politicians and against
anyone who, because of pretension or exaggeration, somehow
upset the world of good taste. But Larra's goals, his
methods of reaching goals, and his idea of the function of
literature were radically different from these authors'.
To change society by exposing customs for what they were
and thereby to prepare Spain for progress vas his basic
The contrast between Larra's purpose and that of other
costumbristas is made vivid in definitions made by Larra
and Mesonero of the purpose of literature. Larra: Litera-
ture should effect change, "rompiendo en todas parties
antiguas cadenas, desgastando tradiciones caducas y derri-
bando fdolos . una literature nueva, expresi6n de la
aociedad nueva que componemos."23 esonero: "Mi misi6n
sobre la tierra es reir, pero reir blanda e inofensiva-
mente de las faltas comunes, de las ridiculeces sociales.2
Larra proposed several ways to carry out complete
social change. Basic to all change was the over of edu-
cation. But his concept of education as the effective
catalyst was not the same as the idea of the eighteenth
century Enlightenment. Although both Larra and the
Enlightenment shared a belief in progress and in education
as a means to solve social problems, the enlightenment
concept of education did not envision learning as a means
of sweeping social change. The difference is important.
Gustavo Barrero pointed this out when comparing Larra's
and the Enlightenment's view: "Larra, al enjuiciar un
libro, lo valora no solo en funci6n de su utilidad, de lo
quo ensefa, y de la media en que es la expresi6n del pro-
greso human sino tambign de sus posibilidades transforma-
doras de la sociedad misms."2
Larra vas principally concerned with awakening his
countrymen from apathy and then with shoving them how they
actually were. As Larra himself said, "uno de los medios
esenciales para encaminar al hombre moral a su perfecci6n
progresiva consiste en ensefarle a que se ves tal cual
es."26 His main tool of reform was literature. In his
concept, the function of literature was to help carry out
social reform. He openly stated that he was against
literature of purely aesthetic purpose. In "De la satira
y los satiricos" he said, "el arte no tiene ya finalidad
en si mismo."27 For Larra, literature had a double pur-
pose, a didactic purpose: it was a vehicle for educating
man's soul and a means of reflecting society and also of
transforming it. His ideas are similar to those of Madame
de Stael in De la litt6rature considered dans ses rapports
avec lea institutions sociales. Both believed that litera-
ture mirrors the society that produced it. When a nation
declines politically, its literature also degenerates.
But men move slowly and steadily toward a better order,
and literature can affect society by contributing to
peaceful social change.28
1Lee Fontanella, "The Mortality of Types: Technology,
Language and Prose in Romantic Spain," (unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation, Princeton University, 1971).
2Arturo del Boyo, "Larra, pobrecito hablador," p. 4.
3Mootesinon, Costumbrismo y novel, p. 63.
Prancisco Navarro Villoslada in El siglo pintoresco,
I, No. 1 (April 1815), 1-2.
5Anonymous, "&En qud consist la educaci6n?" Instructor,
I, No. 2 (February 2, 1834), 7T.
6Salomon, "A Propos des elements 'costumbristas*,"
TNontesinos, p. 88.
8Ibid., p. 50-.
9Xariano Jose de Larra, "Anthony," in Articulos com-
pletos (Madrid, 1944), p. 416.
10Mesonero, Escenas matritenses, p. 14.
12Juan de Zabaleta, "El dia de fiesta per la malana,"
and "El dia de fiesta por la tarde," in Correa Calder6n,
ed., Costumbristas espaaoles, pp. 186-248.
13Correa Calder6n Ixviii.
15lesonero, p. 56.
16Ueelay da Cal, Los espaRoles pintados por si mismos,
17Jose Luis Varela, El costumbrismo romgntico, p. 12.
18Ucelay da Cal, p. 80.
19Ibid., pp. 83-84.
20Correa Calder6n, I, Ixxx.
22Montesinos, pp. 116-117.
238hav, The Nineteenth Century, p. 22.
24Mesonero, p. 21.
250Gstavo Fabra Barreiro, "El pensiemento vivo de
Larra,* Revista del Occidente, 50 (1967), 133.
26Jan Goytisolo, Mariano Jose de Larra (Figaro)--
ensayos satirieos (Moscow, 1967), p. 12.
2TFabra Barreiro, p. 113.
38Berkowitz, "The Nature of Larra's Prose," p. 12.
STRUCTURAL DEFINITION OF THE CUADRO DE COSTUMBRES
As we have already seen costumbrismo was characterized
by a variety of forms, whose features have not been clearly
defined. Nevertheless, certain elements of the genre's
inner structure, such as purpose, tone and attitude, had a
definite expression in its outer structure: point of view,
time, length, characterization and thematic.
We have already discussed one aspect of the cuadro's
inner structure: purpose (Chapter IV). Two other ele-
ments, attitude and tone, are equally important in defining
the nature of the inner structure. By attitude, we mean
the author's stance regarding his subject matter, his
audience and the literary genre. By tone, we mean his
emotional involvement, either as a result of personal
involvement or deliberate artistic effect. RenS Wellek
and Austin Warren aummarize this relationship when they
Genre should be conceived, we think, as a grouping
of literary works based, theoretically, upon both
outer form (specific metre or structure) and also
upon inner form (attitude, tone, purpose--more
crudely subject and audience).1
The author's literary tone can be analyzed from three
perspectives: (1) degree of involvement, (2) ironical-
satirical content, and (3) presence of benign humor tone.
Degree of involvement (whether the tone is that of the
objective, noninvolved writer or more subjective and
involved) is reflected by his presence in the cuadro and,
indirectly, as an expression of his involvement in his
subject matter. The costumbrista whose tone is emotional
tends to use the first person and generally move away
from the omniscient noninvolved authorial tone. Thus,
tone directly affects the point of view, an element of the
cuadro's structure that we shall study more thoroughly in
the second part of this chapter.
The distinction between the involved and noninvolved
tone of the costumbrista author can be seen as the deter-
mining link between costumbrismo and the genres it so often
intersects. The more impersonal the tone, the more the
sketch may be likened to the essay. The attempt toward
objectiveness of certain costumbrista authors is reflected
in the description of places, events and institutions and
the use of stereotypes. All of these qualities bring the
cuadro closer to the structure of the essay. This theory
of genrs distinction has been proposed by Montgomery, who
believes that when the author's personal involvement grows
he creates more clearly sketched characters and makes the
coadro resemble the short story.
The noninvolved author is sometimes associated with
Mesonero's sketches; the deeply-involved author with
Larra's writings.3 Since lack of involvement directly
parallels a general tendency on Mesonero's part to play a
passive rather than an active role in Spanish political
life, this aesthetic question brings to the fore the
author's relation to society and the reflection of society
in literature. Mesonero's tone of noninvolvement is
related to his position as a member of the emerging
Spanish middle class. At the time Mesonero wrote, this
group had not yet acquired a great amount of wealth or
sense of class identity. It was a group which was not
accepted by the upper class, and characterized by its fear
of loosing that tenuous quality called "buen tono" and
falling into "lo cursi." Evidence of Mesonero's expres-
sion of this fear is his tendency to avoid attacking too
violently, and to adopt the literary pose of not
expressing extremes of emotion.
The polite tone of noninvolvement called for by the
literary fashions of a society characterized by social
inequalities, is in sharp contrast to that adopted by
Larra as well as by many Latin American costumbrista
writers. This is not to say that Larra does not sometimes
use the noninvolved tone of Mesonero. Diana Berkovitz
has pointed out Larra's skillful use of this matter of
fact tone for deliberate ironic effect. Larra adopts
this tone to contrast with the outrageous conditions he
Involved tone was such an integral part of Larra's
style that he became a symbol for political writers in
Latin America's period of post-independence. The cult of
Larra has been noted by critics and authors of literary
history. This tone, "el calor de la efervescencia
polltica," became one of the Hispanic cuadro's main
legacies to the cuadro in Latin America.
Two other aspects of tone (irony-satire and benign
humor) affect the outer structure of the cuadro. As in all
aspects of literary structure, these characteristics are
closely linked to purpose and reflected in the choice of
themes, external details, and characterization. If the
difference between satire and benign humor is seen to be
one of intensity rather than content, then both these
tones reflect an element of costumbrismo. These aspects
form the imaginative part of the genre and set the cuadro
apart from related, nonfictional genres such as historical
documents and the descriptive essay. Some degree of humor
is an essential part of costumbrismo.
When this "vena festival" disappears from costumbrismo,
as happens in the latter evolution of the cuadras of Los
eapafoles pintados por si mismos, the genre becomes
"artIculos llenos de vacuo, engolamiento laudatorio" or
"documentadas monograffas que de hecho pertenecen ya a la
erudici6n folkl6rica."9 Costumhrismo then ceases to be
literature and becomes social history.
The author can adopt several attitudes with respect to
his audience and the subject matter of his cuadros. He
can be pretentious or unpretentious, moralizing, indig-
nant, or adopt a didactic stance. Sometimes an author
will change attitudes during the same cuadro. Attitude
should not be confused with tone--an author can express a
pretentious attitude, for example, through an involved or
noninvolved tone, with irony or satire. The most charac-
teristic of these authorial attitudes is lack of social or
literary pretense. This attitude, a direct result of the
cuadro's status as a popular Journalistic form, is one of
its most effective tools.10 Mesonero even considered
unpretentious tone an integral part of the definition of
the cuadro. As Mesonero says, the cuadro should have "un
estilo llano, sin afectacidn ni deaalieo."11
lot all costumbristas arrive at this unpretentious
attitude. Some, like Larra, occasionally adopt a delib-
erately pretentious style for satirical effects. Others,
particularly in Latin America, display a condescending
attitude to the customs they describe. This pretentious
attitude to both the subject matter and the public is one
of the peculiar traits of the cuadro in Latin America as
we shall see when we examine the cuadro in PerG. A pos-
sible preliminary explanation in that the writer in post-
independence Latin America vas at times estranged from the
reading public as well as from the lover class customs he
described. He expressed this estrangement in the literary
attitude of his writings.
The writer who moralizes, who is indignant or who
cultivates didactic prose is also dissatisfied with life
as it exists in his times. His attitude can be that of an
angry critic who wishes to change the basic structure of
social customs or merely that of a moralist who attacks
the "malsa costumbres" of his times.
The attitude of the costumbrista writer to his subject
matter is a clearly defined relationship which he controls.
It differs from aspects of the external structure, such as
point of view, in that it is all embracing. While point
of view, for example, acts as a mirror, filtering out
certain aspects of reality, attitude can be compared with
a stained glass vindow--it colors the author's reflection
The External ourucxure: Gener l summunon
Relationship between internal and external structure
is close and multiple. The plurality of internal struc-
ture is reflected in a vide variety of external forms.
Nevertheless, certain aspects of this external structure
present unifying trends. The largely descriptive nature
of the cuadro. the value of external details, the relation-
ship of the specific to the general, and the use of
exaggeration and distortion for deliberate effect, all
form part of the surface structure of the cuadro. Above
all the cuadro is characterized by the use of condensation
The concrete details of the technique of the cuadro:
length, time frame, point of viev, characterization and
themes are all components of the external form. Despite
an apparent lack of preconceived rules and patterns, the
choice of details that produce a character, set a time
frame, or develop a theme respond to certain general
demands of the external structure.
Descriptive Nature of the Cuadro
The external structure of the cuadro is characterized,
above all, by its descriptive rather than narrative
nature.12 By descriptive, we mean that the cuadro is more
concerned with describing a character, setting, or custom
than with narrating an action. This description is ex-
ternal, rather than internal or overtly psychological; it
is directly related to the social purpose of the cuadro.
George Lukacs has explored the relationship between
description in literature and the society which it re-
flects and which produces authors who value description
over narration. Lukacs associates description with a new
form of social structure produced by capitalism: man as a
unit of production instead of a human being. As Lukacs
The predominance of description is not only a
result but also, and simultaneously, a cause,
the cause of a further divorce of literature
from epic significance. The domination of
capitalist prose over the inner poetry of human
experience, the continuous dehumanization of
social life, the general debasement of humanity--
all these are objective facts of the development
of capitalism. The descriptive method is the
inevitable product of this development. Once
established this method is taken up by leading
writers dedicated in their own way, and then it
in turn affects the literary representation of
The literature produced by European capitalism with
its emphasis on typification and description was widely
imitated in Spain and Latin America. Even though the
economic system that inspired this literature did not take
hold in Latin America, both literature and thought patterns
were imitated. Thus we find the situation occurring in
Latin America that Trotsky describes in The October
Revolutionl as common of underdeveloped areas of the
world. Advanced thoughts and theories are borrowed while
economic and social systems remain unchanged, thus pro-
ducing a disparity between the expectations of the intel- /
ligentsia and the realities of the world that surrounds
them. If we follow Lukacs' schema, this phenomenon is
illustrated by the predominance of a highly descriptive
literature, reflecting Western European technology and
capitalism in underdeveloped societies such as those of
Spain or Latin America.
Use of Details
The cuadro tends to describe externals, whether they
be of people or of scenes, through the skillful use of
detail. Details usually portray external manifestation of
character rather than inner psychology. In addition, the
cuadro by the very nature of its genre characteristics
tends to focus on description rather than action. These
facts have led to several misinterpretations of the
structural nature of the cuadro.
Critical have stated that costumbrismo produces works
whose analysis is not deep--its greatest contribution is
said to be the description of background and setting
instead of characters.15 To a certain extent this is
true. As previously stated, there is an intimate relation-
ship between art, particularly the art of lithographs and
engravings, and costumbrismo. There is a certain interest
in the pictorial and the value of the details for their
Nevertheless, the multiple levels of meaning acquired
by external details in costumbrismo serve as a means of
describing inner psychology and the structure of social
customs. This fact is important in disputing the thesis
that costumbrismo was a superficial art which gave little
information as to the psychological nature of its charac-
ters. Nontesinos and Salomon have related these values to
the science of physiology and cranioscopy. This science
posited a body of knowledge concerning the external struc-
ture of the body and the relationship between animals and
humans. Human features were though to be indicative of
inner psychological truths and men were believed to have
the nature of the animals whose features they suggested.16
The vorld of Spanish folklore and everyday life also
added meaning to the details of costumbrista descriptions.
Clothes, names of streets, details of festivities, names
of people and the words of popular songs,17 brought to
the nineteenth century reader a world of associations per-
haps even more familiar than that of cranioscopy. The old
priest of "El clgrigo de misa y olla," and the shoemaker
portrayed by Larra in "Modos de vivir que no dan de
vvir18 are described with gesture and language that form
part of oral tradition. In Mesonero's cuadros, names of
streets and certain shops had definite associations to the
reading public of a city the size of nineteenth century
To the meanings that details acquired as the result of
folklore and science, we can add the literary meanings of
details that are repeated in several cuadros, either by
the same author or by different authors. This new
meaning, determined by the objects' function in the world
of literary reality, is one that Lukacs noted in Western
European narrative literature:
With the loss of the art of narration, details
cease to be transmitters of concrete aspects of
the action and attain significance independent
of the action and of the lives of the characters.19
Coats in Mesonero's cuadros are used over and over to
represent changes in fashion; vehicles of transportation
and streets acquire a significance that is the result of
(1) the association which Resonero makes between the
object and his idea or character; (2) the association
which the object receives from current fashion; and (3)
the association that other authors give it as the result
of choosing this object repeated times.
An example of this is the value acquired by beverages
such as chocolate, coffee and tea. They are used by
Mesonero in a cuadro in which the drinks stand for changes
in fashion and the passing of time in Madrid society. The
change from the traditional drink, chocolate, to coffee and
then tea is used by Mesonero to present the idea of the
decay of old values and the introduction of new, Euro-
peanized ideas. The new drinks are related to the caf6s
where they are served and to the desintegration of the
old Spanish tradition of strong family life. Mesonero
obviously believes that the new ways are worse than the
Another example of these multiple meanings is a
Colombian cuadro called Las tres tazas by Vergara. In it
the three beverages are symbolized by cups and associated
with the containers in which they are served instead of
the places where the beverage can be bought. This rela-
tionship carries with it Mesonero's previous literary link
to different periods in historical time. Vergara also
links tea with a vogue for everything foreign, but his
historical periods are different: the cup of chocolate--
the Colombia colony and 1813, the cup of coffee with 1848,
and tea with contemporary times.21 It is quite likely
that Vergara vas familiar, if not with the particular
cuadro of Mesonero, then with the general literary tra-
dition that associated external objects with the passing
of time and changes in social customs.
The multiple association of the external details thus
counteract the very random choice by which many of these
details are included in the cuadros. Since the cuadros
correspond to individual authorial needs and did not
follow a preordained structure, the choice of details was
sometimes arbitrary and illogical. The authors themselves
admit this--as Montesinos says, "y los autores lo dicen,
comoban aeleccionado ese detalle, hubieran podido tomar
otro cualquiera."22 This random choice is part of the
journalistic nature of the cuadro. Louis Footanella
Periodical technology, which orders information
in a comparative random way, less consecutively
than did book technology, lent to the content of
the periodical an aspect of continuous newness.
Therefore, Ram6n de Mesonero in the Prospecto
that preceded the publication of the first issue
of his Semanario Pintoresco Esnafol states:
*no seguiremos orden met6dico en la elecci6n
de materials"2 3
Random choice of details is also a direct result of
the pictorial nature of the cuadro. Writers compare the
cuadro to a painting, but insist that it is not a photo-
graph. Larra remarks, "S61o baccmos pintura de costum-
bres, no retratos." Mesonero finds "los caracteres que
forzosamente habfa de describir no son retratos sino tipos
o figures, asl como yo no pretend ser retratista sino
Relationship Between the Universal
and the Particular
The cuadro's focus on the universal is reflected in
its characterization--types and structure--from the gen-
eral to the specific. Borrowing from the nineteenth cen-
tury scientific spirit, the costumbrista writer's desire
to discover universal laws through universal types leads
him to depict local characters and scenes that are
peculiarly Spanish. As a matter of fact, the universal
and the regional parallel the relationship between the
general and the specific. The types presented in the
cuadros are representative of both Spanish reality and of
universal human virtues or vices. The miser, the dandy,
and the whore found in Spanish comedy are also Latin
American social types. What makes these characters tran-
scends their local realities are the techniques the costum-
brista writer uses to depict them. These techniques.
based on the multiple meanings of external details,
emphasize the universal traits of the regional type.
The relationship between the general and the specific
is also a structural consideration reflected in the format
that most of the cuadros follow. Borrowing from the essay,
the cuadro first generalizes, then gives a specific
example.25 In the description of the specific aspect, the
general trait is usually kept in mind through direct refer-
ence or allusion. As one critic has said, the writer
creates "una pequefla acci6n dramitica con personajes de
nombre caprichoso, que pretenden expresar a trav6s de lo
particular, lo general de la especie."26
Contrast and Condensation
The general external structure of the cuadro is
characterized by its use of contrast and condensation.
Costumbrista writers juxtapose appearance and reality
through detailed description of action which contrasts
with ideal or expected behavior. For example, the inef-
ficiency of government officials is described in such a
way that the reader is constantly reminded of the behavior
expected of officials.27
Tone and attitude are used to contrast, either with
the author's tone in other cuadros or, with the subject
matter. Words and thought patterns are contrasted to
show the differences in ideology of liberals and conser-
vatives, provincials and city dwellers, young and old.
Intimate knowledge of a subject well known to the public
is applied to something else, less familiar, in order
to attract the reader's attention and make ridicule more
effective. Thus, Larra compares politics to love.28
Paradoxically, the cuadro achieves heights of artis-
tic creation through the very quality that seems at
first to limit it. All parts of the external descriptive
structure are condensed as a result of the cuadro's short
length. As we have previously mentioned, external
details acquire multiple meanings through folklore,
literary association, and contemporaneousness. Point of
view is by necessity limited, action sometimes eon-
existent, themes few and repetitive, and characterization
dependent on the use of caricature, exaggeration, and
Correa Calderin states that "La mayor gracia del
enadro radical en su brevedad esencial en el que nada
sobra ni falta." Significantly, he adds that "muchos son
los autores que se pierden en difusas descripciones de
todo orden."29 Estdbanez's best works contain only
six or seven pages, such as "Pulpete y Bayeja" and Los
fil6sofos en el fig6n,"30 while in his other cuadros
quality declines with length.
The need to say something important, or at least
interesting, in a few pages caused the cuadro to contain
many elements of theatre or the novel: dialogue, descrip-
tion, and even limited action. It has been postulated
that its short length prevented it from achieving the
artistic heights of these genres. This is the thesis of
Mesonero who in his pr6logo to the 1881 edition of Panorama
matritense states that only this characteristic caused the
cuadro not to become either one of these more complex
Point of View
The short and condensed nature of the cuadro, however,
affects its vision of reality. The cuadro's point of view
is excessively selective: People and objects are de-
scribed with limited features. Thus, point of view becomes
an important element in the artistic creation of the
cuadro. Since the cuadro had a limited geographical
perspective (Spain) and time frame (contemporary matters),
point of view became the only way in which the author could
express his ideas and make ordinary things interesting.32
The costumbrista writer used three techniques to pre-
sent this limited point of view: (1) the use of a first
person narrator, (2) the use of a deliberately false point
of view, and (3) a narrative framework within another--el
cuadro dentro de un cuadro.
The use of the first person narrator allowed the
costumbrista writer to express his personal attitude to
the persons and scenes he described. The subjectiveness
of the first person point of view contradicts the stated
objective of the genre's authors. Over and over in their
prologues they proclaim that they will be impartial; that
they are issue rather than personality oriented. The use
of the "yo" reveals the true subjective nature of their
portrayal of events.
Another technique, perspective through an assumed
anthorial role, gives the writer a pretense of objectivity
and a variety of perspectives. When Mesonero becomes "El
Curioso Parlante" and Larra "Figaro," they look at reality
through the eyes of an irresponsible young man. When
EstEbanez adopts the role of "El Solitario," he reflects
the vision of a bad-tempered old man. The mock narrator
gives the writer greater psychological distance from the
subject matter. At the same time he can drop or change
the assumed role at will when he wishes to present a
different perspective of the description.
Another means of gaining variety in perspectives is
the use of two levels of narration. Within the cuadro
lies the outline of another cuadro, which the author sees
in a dream, hears from someone else or reports in the form
of a dialogue overheard in the street.3 Through this
technique the author can both describe the custom as a
participant and comment on it as an observer; this allows
the author another way of presenting his viewpoint.
Through his comments as an observer, he reminds us of the
importance of the genre as a vehicle for the diffusion of
A variation of this technique which can yield satiri-
cal benefits, is the introduction which parodies botanical
or zoological classifications. This technique, popular
with the Romantics, gave to the sketch a false point of
view at times, at others it served only as a digression to
the real substance of the cuadro.3
Critics concur that the cuadro has traditionally
focused on the present. This emphasis on contemporaneity
has led some critics to use time as one of the criteria
for defining the cuadro. As noted previously, the use of
the past has been associated with the definition of the
cuento while the present has been linked with the cuadro
Even though the cuadro treats contemporary events, it
is also clear that both conservative and liberal costum-
bristas were basically dissatisfied with their present
world. This disenchantment with life influenced writers
to postulate an ideal reality with a twofold nature.
Larra placed his reality in an ideal future and Mesonero
and the traditionalists in the past.3
This focus on an ideal time has not always been seen
in the proper light. Some believe that the conservative
costumbrista writers were satisfied with the present and
only Larra wanted a different future. Others have seen
the past only as an inspiration for the costumbristas'
archaic language and presentation of national types. These
critics forget the social change and accompanying chaos
that Spain was experiencing at the time. The focus on the
present of most costumbrista writers was only a means to
study the current state of society and a medium for pro-
posing alternative notions on social organization.
Montes Huidobro has called this attitude the "perspee-
tiva del tiempo" and linked it to both sytlistic and
national needs.39 This close tie between nationalism and
time is also stated by Margarita Ucelay da Cal who says,
"en Espala lo espaBol, lo pintoresco llega a ser no lo que
se encuentra en la realidad espafola sino lo que puede
retraerse a un preterito determinado."O One thing was
clear, the characteristics that all the costumbristas
wanted in Spain: vitality, strength and a sense of
identity did not exist in their present. At the same time,
if the present was going to change it had to be closely
examined and observed. As Larra said, "es precise conocer
el mundo como es pars poder cambiarlo."
The costumbristas compared ideal time, normally asso-
ciated with the past, with the present through a variety
of techniques: descriptions from old books, dreams and
associations with old clothes. Time became a way to com-
pare two kinds of life, existence in contemporary Spain
full of social change was compared to life as they wished
it would be in the future or nostalgically though it had
been in the past.
The cuadro de costumbres has been characterized as
containing little or no plot.h2 Nevertheless, many cuadros
have plots, some as developed as those of the short story.
The existence or absence of a plot has been considered by
some critics as the important difference between the
ecadro and the short story. As Baquero Goyanes says, "el
autor finge nn asunto--por esquematico que este sea--y
cream unos personajes--o bien los transcribe del natural--
presenttndonos un cuadro animado, cuya mayor o menor
semejanza con el cuento estarg en raz6n direct de la
dosis argumental-peripecia--que el autor baya vertido en
Correa Calder6n goes so far as to say that Mesonero's
cuadros become rough stories, outlines for plays, or un-
successful sketches for novels as the direct result of the
too extensive use of plot.h
Nevertheless, in reality we find many cuadros with
quite a bit of plot, but which are evidently not cuentos.
Larra's "El castellano viejo" and "Casarse pronto y mal"
are notable examples of this. Baquero Goyanes is quick to
add that the cuadro resembles the short story more when it
has a fully developed plot, but that this is not a
"sustaneia edible o pensable hasta el punto de permitirnos
clasificaciones exactas y rfgidas." As Montesinos points
out, "Hay novels de poca accidn y superabundancia de
detalles realistas y cuadros de costumbres en el que
oeurren muchfsimas cosas."b6
Thus, it is not the presence or absence of plot which
distinguishes costumbrismo from other creative fiction.
Instead, the fundamental variant is the relationship
between plot and the cuadro's purpose. In the cuento. the
plot is an end in itself, in the cuadro it is only a pre-
text, a device used to hold the reader's attention while
the author presents an idea or delights us with a pretty
The costumbrista's language both reflected the struc-
tural limits of the genre and the ideology of the period.
Short length called for the use of value-laden words and
symbolic names, titles and quotes. Language responded to
the cuadro's purpose of recording the speech of social
groups and its stated nationalism. Through ingenious
technique, language avoided the limits of censorship.
The short length of the cuadro forced costumbrista
writers to choose exact words with multiple meanings. We
have previously mentioned the use of details in costum-
brista descriptions. Titles, m9ttoes and quotes served a
variety of functions. They summarized the cuadro's con-
tent, anticipated the characters described and provided
literary allusions. The use of titles with an accompanying
poem, verse or saying became so widespread that Larra
wrote a cuadro aptly titled "Mania de citas y epfgrafes." 4
Pen names also served a thematic function, they were
changed by the author to suit the style and subject matter
of his sketch.
Both in Spain and Latin America, language expressed a
concern for national values. The strong French influence
on nineteenth century Spain caused many French words to
enter the Spanish language. In reaction, Mesonero and
Estebanez made a conscious effort to use words that were
castizo and avoided gallicisms, while Estebanes tried to
reproduce the sometimes archaic language of his province.
Larra held the belief that progress, both in society,
literature and language, was inevitable. In contrast, to
Mesonero and Est6banez, he was against the idea of rigid
casticismo in language.h9
Language acquired in Latin America a polemic value
associated with the emerging nationalism of post indepen-
dence. In Chile, Bello's famous controversy with Sarmiento
illustrated the new republic's concern about which gram-
matical models to follow: those of the former capital or
the new ones appearing in Latin America at the time.
The scientific trend to record and classify found a
field of interest in the language of special groups. There
was a general attempt to record and classify the language
of all occupations and social groups. For example, the
language of bullfights, sheepherding, actors, and miners
as vell as that peculiar to certain regions of Spain, was
transcribed in great detail.50 The existence of strict
censorship added a greater need for double meanings and
parallel constructions to the language of the costumbristas.
Simultaneous and sometimes contradictory meanings of words,
puns, and the use of a language that was too formal for
the ideas presented became part of the cuadro writers'
general stock in trade. Diana Berkovitez's study of
Larra's expressive techniques illustrates this use of
clever verbal expressions which produced unexpected but
pertinent association of ideas, thus revealing the incon-
gruities in Spanish social situations.51
Costumbrismo typifies characters instead of individu-
alizing them. This predominant aspect of the cuadro's
characterization is closely related to its descriptive
nature, its short length and the demands of a diverse
reading public. It corresponds also to the cuadro's func-
tion as a means of reflecting national customs and charac-
ters. Finally, the type may be the literary counterpart
of the nineteenth century scientific obsession with
classifying and cataloguing all natural phenomena.
In the cuadro, characters are represented by a single
socially significant trait. In the preface to El
Semanario Pintoresco, 1845, Vol. 10, the editors make the
word "type" synonymous with social class when they state
that "tipo es un individuo de la sociedad que represents
una clase a la cual convienen costumbres propias que de
ninglin modo pertenecen a otra alguna." The study of
general aspects of the national character is a natural
extension of this trend. Both Spanish and Latin American
writers express this purpose. Sarmiento in El Mercurio,
June 25, 1842, echoes Larra when he states that literature
should he an expression of the new society that they are
constituting.52 Critics of the twentieth century also
equate type with social class. Montesinos states that the
purpose of the type in the cuadro is to describe "per-
sonajes representatives de today suerte de fen6menos
Nevertheless, the interest in types was also a reflec-
tion of the scientific spirit of the period that vent
beyond the survey of contemporary social classes. The
type became the means of portraying or examining isolated
inhabitants as a rare species about to disappear or found
only in distant geographical local. Noel Salomon has
examined the relationship of this spirit to the techniques
of costumbrismo. This analytical framework was based on
the concept that man was the result of traits gathered
from many parts of the vegetable and animal kingdom. This
relationship meant that he could now be analyzed with
information gathered from the lower kingdoms. Thus,
Sarmiento describes the Argentinian caudillo Pacundo
Quiroga as a wolf.5 Larra entitles one of his cuadros
"La plant facciosa" in a parody of this very spirit
common to writers of his time.
When a genre becomes more descriptive than narrative,
the extensive use of plot declines and the possibility of
portraying characters as the result of their reaction to
events also declines.5
The predominantly descriptive nature of the cuadro
caused writers to rely on techniques that would evoke
multiple and instantaneous meanings from one detail, per-
son or scene. The costumbrista used a variety of means
to achieve this purpose: naming, repetition of the same
character,7 the use of dialogue and stock characters,
and deliberate deformation and exaggeration. As Wellek
and Warren have said, "The simplest form of characteriza-
tion is naming. Each appellation is a kind of vivifying,
animizing, individuating." Larra's Don Cindido BuenafL,
whose name let us know from the very beginning his out-
standing personality trait is an example of this tech-
nique.60 Mesonero's chairs in "Las Sillas del Prado,"
aptly titled La descosida, columpio and temblorosa61
present a more vivid picture through their names than
would have been possible by direct description.
Some critics have criticized the cuadro's tendency to
deliberate exaggeration.62 Nevertheless, there are two
facts related to character exaggeration in the cuadro that
caused it to achieve particular stylistic value. First of
all, there is the interesting theory mentioned by Noel
Salomon that, according to the philosophy of Geoffroy
Saint-Hilaire, monsters, far from being an exaggeration
and a distortion of nature were in fact "des r6v6latcurs
de la souche, des reminiscences ou des mftaphores du
prototype au 1'on peut retrouvor le 'nodele' essential"63
Thus, exaggeration could serve as a means of revealing
essential traits about the social type being studied.
Secondly, there is the value that exaggeration has for
satire. Satire establishes a logic of its own which
contrasts with the logic of the custom or thing it attempts
to ridicule. Exaggeration is not ludicrous within the
world of fiction that satire creates. Distortion becomes
part of a deliberate departure from reality. Correa
Calder6n sums up the function of exaggeration for the
costumbrista writer when he says:
el costumbrista observa los usos de las gentes o
los tipos curiosos, para pintar luego sus pequefos
euadros un poco de memorial, defornando las lfneas
del original, al que desfigura deliberadamente.
No le import demasiado la absolute identidad y
semejanza con el modelo ni la excesiva fidelidad
de la copia, sino dar categorfa literaria a lo
vulgar, embelleciendo lo tipico y plebeyo, que no
siempre posee donaire y color; hallar el punto
flaco de las cqsas para ponerlo en evidencia y
lograr su perfecci6n, destacar los defects del
individuo o de la muchedumbre para anularlos o
suavizarloa con el suave corrective del ridiculo.65
Costumbristas focus on themes that are the direct
expression of their purpose in writing. Those who wish to
change the social structure of Spain choose habits and
customs that they believe reflect basic evils; those who
yearn for the past choose customs that portray a
Larra prefers to portray unproductive types, exploita-
tire professions and wasteful customs. His thematic
concern is with the customs that stand in the way of the
typical Spaniard's self analysis. Sarmiento shares this
concern. He uses the description of Facundo quiroga as
the prototype of what he considers the reason for
Argentina's civil wars, the unscrupulous caudillos.
The writers such as Mesonero who wish to change the
morals of contemporary society, focus on social customs
that need to be changed instead of the basic structures
that cause them. They tend to see corruption as the result
of foreign influence, and a decline in national spirit,
instead of innate faults in the Spanish character. They
choose themes from two general areas: Mesonero chooses
the social life of the urban middle class, Est4banes
portrays the generally pristine customs of rural, pro-
vincial parts of Spain. Urban customs are chosen as
examples of the result of the lost vital strength and the
slavish imitation of foreign values in Spain. Trips to
the provinces, rural festivities and visits of provincials
to the city are used as ways of portraying "las buenas
costumbres" before social change and foreign influence had
permeated Spain. Thus Larra's castellano viejo is
satirized because he is no longer an unaffected
castellano viejo, but a pretentious middle class bureaucrat.
Costumbrista writers chose provincial types and lover
class individuals as themes. Types such as "El
Bandolero"6 and "El Contrabandista"7 were commonly found
in Spanish cuadros. Regions in which the language and
customs seemed quite different from Madrid and Seville
were also popular. The pictorial purpose of the cuadro
coincided with this interest in marginal social types.
Spanish writers were also influenced by what the rest of
Eruope considered Tpicturesque" in Spain. Thus we see an
interesting paradox in the choice of subject matter.
While some costumbristas seek to record national types
accurately in order to counteract the distorted pictures
foreigners draw of Spaniards, others reinforce these
pictures by choosing as their subject matter the same
smugglers, thieves and gypsies that the Romantics find
colorful. Thus the image of "la Espafa de la pandareta"
is counteracted and reinforced by parallel forces of the
Spanish nineteenth century, nationalism and the love of
The unique structure of the cuadro--that is its short
length, use of external detail and importance of condensa-
tion and contrast--also affect the choice of themes. The
descriptive nature and the need to use value-laden exter-
nal detail caused the writers to choose scenes or types
that would evoke multiple associations and suggest a
certain previous universal meaning. Mesonero's romantic
nephew is the romantic son of Roman comedy. Larra's
servant of "La Hochebuena" is the classical theatre's
The cuadro's thematic focus is predominantly urban,
Madrid and Seville, and its attention dedicated to the
middle class. Secondary interest lies in provincial types
and members of the lover class, particularly in their
interactions with the urban middle class.
lVellek and Warren, Theory of Literature, p. 231.
2Montgomery, Early "Costumbrista" Writers, p. 20.
3The theoretical basis for Mesonero's side of the
dichotomy is presented by Matfas Montes Huidobro, "El
estilo come permanencia de lo efimero," Hispania, LII,
No. 3 (September 1969), 01-408. For Larra's concept see
Shaw, The Nineteenth Century, p. 21, and Berkovitz, "The
Nature of Larra's Prose," p. 58-
JosG Antonio Portuondo, "Landaluze y el costumbrismo
en Cuba," Boletfn de la Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti,
Afo 63, 3era 6poca, XIX, No. 1 (enero-abril 1972), quotes
Enrique Tierno Galvfn, "Aparici6n y desarrollo de nuevas
perspectivas de valoraci6n social en le siglo XIX: 'lo
cursi'," Revista de Estudios Polfticos, 42 (marzo-abril
1952), 85-106, for his definition of "io cursi" and its
relationship to both Cuban and Hispanic emerging
5Berkovitz, p. 61.
6Guillermo de Torre, "Larra en Amnrica," Insula, 188/
189 (1962), p. 9.
tPedro Lastra, El cuento hispanoamericano del siglo
XII (Santiago de Chile, 1972), p. 19.
BCorrea Calder6n, Costumbristas espafioles, I, Iviii.
9Ueelay da Cal, Los espafioles pintados, p. 204.
10Frederick Courtney Tarr, "Mariano JosS de Larra
(1809-37)," Modern Language Journal, XXII ( 1937), 47.
11Montesinos, Costumbrismo y novels, p. 56;
Bogliano, "La descendencia de Larra," pp. lO0-l1; Correa
Calder6n, I, Ivii; Duffey. The'Cuadro de Costumbres,' p.O.
12Duffey, p. vi; Berkovitz, p. 58. But, as Berkowitz
points out (p. 209), Larra was not primarily a descriptive
writer; his satire depended greatly on dialogue and
13George Lukacs, Writer and Critic, p. 127.
1 Leon Trotsky, The Russian Revolution: The Overthrow
of Tzarism and the Triumph of the Soviets, (New York, 1959),
15Montesinos, p. 128; Cannizzo, "Costumbrismo in
Chilean Prose Fiction," p. 6; Montes Huidibro, p. 403;
J. R. Lomba y Pedrajo, Cuatro studios, p. 25.
16Cranioscopy and physiology were based on relation-
ahips between physical features of the skull and face and
the existence of certain psychological facts associated
with these external features. Montesinos, pp. 95-106;
Salomon, "A Propos Des Elements 'costumbristas'," pp. 373-
ITMontesinos, pp. 89-90.
18Fermin Caballero, "El eldrigo de Misa y olla," in
Ucelay da Cal, p. 216; Larra, "Oficios que no dan de
19Lukaes, p. 132.
20Ram6n de Mesonero Ronanos, "El Prado," Costumbristas
espafloles I, 680-685.
21Jose Maria Vergara, "Las tres tazas," Las fiestas de
toros (Bogotg, 1971), pp. 14-89.
22Montesinos, p. 129.
23pontanella, "The Mortality of Types," p. 2L0.
24Monteeinon, p. 51, n. 21; Ucelay da Cal, p. 171.
25Jos4 Sanehez Reboredo, "Larra y los series irra-
cionales," Revista de Occidente, V, No. 50 (1967), 17h;
Varela, El costumbrismo romfntico, p. 9.
26Ucelay da Cal, p. 128.
2tBerkovitz, p. 111.
28Ibid., p. 126.
29Correa Calder6a, I, lix.
30Villiam Moellering, "The Elements of Costumbrisno in
Pereda's Esee3as Montanesas," (unpublished Ph.D. disserta-
tion, Stanford University, 1943), p. 233.
31uontes Buidobro, p. 406.
32aquero Goyanes has presented an outline of this
theory in "Perspectivismo y crftica en Cadalso, Larra y
Mesonero Bomanos," Clavileio (Madrid), L, ao. 30 (195h),
33arela, p. 8; Montesinos, p. 2h.
3hUcelay da Cal, p. 30.
35oantesinos, p. 123.
36Ibid., p. 33.
TUcelay da Cal, p. 153.
8Jerry Johnson, "Estudio preliminary to Mariano Josa
de Larra, Artfculos de costumbres (Barcelona, 1972), p. T7.
39Montes Huidobro, p. 603.
h0Ucelay da Cal, p. 118.
4lFabra Barreiro, "El pensamiento vivo de Larra,"
42Montgomery, p. 19.
63Baquero Goyanes, El cuento espasol en el siglo XIX,
Correa Calder6n, I, lxv.
45Baquero Goyanes, p. 101.
M46ontesinos, p. 12.
Correa Calder6n I, vii.
bLomba y Pedraja, p. 5.
4Berkowitz, p. 15.
50Montesinos, pp. 129-130.
51Berkovitz, pp. 121-122.
52D. F. Sarmiento, El Mercurio, 18A2, and Larra in
El Espafol. January 18, 1936.
53xontesinos, p. 110.
54~alomon, p. 385.
56Lukacs, p. 117.
57Correa Calder6n, I, Ivii.
58Ueelay da Cal, p. 57.
59Wellek and Warren, p. 219.
6Correa Calder6n, I, 919.
61Ibid., p. 717.
62Moellering, p. 12h.
63Salomon, p. 381.
Berkovitz, pp. 144-145.
6Correa Calder6n. I, Ixxiii.
I6bid., p. 1179.
6Ibid., p. 1122.
68Wellek and Warren, p. 32.
PELIPE PARDO Y ALIAGA--A EUROPEAN
MODEL FOR PERU
Though he wrote few cuadros, Felipe Pardo y Aliaga
played an important role in initiating the genre and con-
tributing to its theoretical base. Of the four main
exponents of the cuadro in mid-nineteenth century Peru,
Pardo is the one who most clearly expressed a parallel
political and literary philosophy; in his case, the neo-
classical belief that both literature and social customs
ought to adhere to established, fixed norms. At the same
time he refused to specify the details of these norms. A
conservative, he nonetheless wrote in the hope that his
cuadros would awaken Peruvian society to its shortcomings
and inspire it to cast aside its ignorance and provincial-
ism. Despite this stated desire to change society, Pardo
has been mialabelled by some critics as a reactionary
who wished Peru to return to colonial customs.
He was aware of his role as a literary innovator. In
the prologue to El espejo de ni tierra, he says "bisteme a
mf la [glorial de ser el primero que ponga la plants en
campo todavfa no pisado por huells humansa.1 Neverthe-
less, as a self-proclaimed initiator of the cuadro in
Peru, Pardo did not lay down specific guidelines for its
structure and length. But, he insisted that a model was
Pardo was aware of his role as a man bent on changing
social customs through his writing. Just as he offered no
very detailed guidelines for the literary form he espoused,
he likewise refrained from detailing alternatives for
customs he hoped would change. In his prologue to E
espejo de mi tierra, while discussing the need for new
customs he stated. "lejos de mi la idea Jactensiosa de dar
el tipo a que ellas deben sujetarse."2
Pardo's purpose in writing his cuadro is based on the
belief that Peru needs a government of the educated elite
which should rule over the masses in authoritarian rule.
Since this elite was to be an educated one, instead of one
characterized by its economic or military power. Pardo saw
the cuadro's function as a means to make Lima's present
ruling class aware of its shortcomings. These were: the
emphasis on trivial subjects instead of matters of national
*All quotes from Peruvian material follow the orthog-
raphy of the original text.
concern, the blind aping of foreign customs coupled with an
exaggerated provincialism, and the indecisiveness and lack
of adulthood in upper class males. In the prologue to
El espejo de mi tierra, he expresses the need for litera-
ture to help change society.3 Implicity and more subtly
he makes his point in his cuadros through the picture that
he draws of Lima's society, especially its males.
Pardo contends that he does not wish to take sides,
but that the purpose of his newspaper, El espejo de mi
tierra, will be "los objetos generals que pueden compren-
derse bajo la denominaci6n de costumbres." Luis Alberto
Sanchez has pointed out the controversial nature that
costumbres had in Pardo's times. He believes that signifi-
cant changes had not taken place in the economy or in the
educational system, but only in the sphere of social
Pero cuando la costumbre es costumbre de verdad,
y no moda, cuando ella represent modos sinceros
de encarar la vida, expresi6n de razas dispares,
entonces assume un papel dirinente del cual no
puede prescindir nadie y arrastra partidarios ni
man ni menos que un caudillo cualquiera-5
This evident and explicit social purpose for his writings
is categorized by Pardo when he states that he proposes
different purposes for different newspapers. El Coco de
Santa Cruz, for example, will be for "cuestiones de alta
importancia para el Peru," while the contemporary Para
Muchachos will be "sin disgusto para todas las classes "
Pardo summarizes the distinct purposes of his newspapers
and of literature in general, when he states, "De un modo
se ha de hablar al Preste Juan, y de otro al monaguillo
Pardo's political thoughts are essential to an under-
standing of his literary purpose. Pardo formed part of
the literary group of Jos$ Marta de Pando, head of the
conservative party from 1825-18347 and was a close friend
of Jose Joaqufn de Mora.8 The ideas of the conservative
party, especially those of Mora, were Pardo's. Mora
brought to Peru the thinking of the Scottish philosophers.
Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart, and this ideology was
used by the conservatives against the philosophy of the
liberals. Mora's ideas were used as "una de las novfsi-
mas armas ideol6gicas fabricadas por los opositores al
racionalismo de la ilustraci6n al liberalism politico."9
Pardo's close relationship, both literary and politi-
cal, with members of the conservative party has caused
later literary historians to consider him a reactionary.
Luis Alberto Sinchez has equated Pardo with "la reiteraci6n
de lo peninsular, la reinvindicaci6n de la colonial, la
continuidad del virreinato."10 The concept of Pardo as a
reactionary who wished customs to return to the way they
had been before the revolution is a common misconception.
Tamayo Vargas states that Pardo was "un satfrico con la
vista en el pasado."11 and Alberto Tauro summarizes
several of these concepts in his article on Pardo's
A closer examination of Pardo's prologue to El espeJo
de mi tierra, and his portrayal of Lima's traditions in his
cuadro reveals a Pardo who, far from being a reactionary,
is interested in change, not only of the vestiges of the
colonial past but also of the new customs that were re-
placing them. Pardo states that "Las costumbres nuevas se
hallan todavfa en aquel estado de vacilaci6n y de incerti-
dumbre que caracteriza toda innovation reciente: las
antiguas flaquean pot sus cimientos al fuerte embate de la
revolution. IQud coyuntura mas favorable pars los escri-
tores que quieren mejorarlas?"13 It is obvious from this
statement that what he wishes to change refers to both old
as well as new customs. Cornejo Polar sums this up when
he states that Pardo "buscaba transformaciones aunque no
fueran tal vez sustanciales es claro que no pretnedia
aferrarse a nada ni conservar nada.h14
Another common misconception is that Pardo was anti-
criollo, and anti-nationalist. Some critics create a
dichotomy between Pardo and Segura in which Pardo repre-
sents the tendency toward a Spanish model and Segura the
love for criollo subject matters. Justo Fernandez Cuanca
believes that Pardo is a nationalistic writer, but that
he lacks "aquel sentimiento que identifica con las races
mismas de la nncionalidad." Alberto Varillas Montenegro
believes that Pardo's newspaper, El espejo de mi tierra
"estaba destinado a combatir la impropiedad de las cos-
tumbres y a polemizar sobre el criollismo."16
Nevertheless, Pardo is neither anti-criollo nor anti-
nationalist. One of his favorite subjects for attack is
the slavish imitation of foreign customs with no thought
about their suitability to Peru. He expresses similar
thoughts about the need for developing political systems
that are based on Peruvian reality. In his poem "La Consti-
tucion Politica" he states the belief that the reason the
constitution has not worked for Peru is because it is
based on parts of foreign constitutions. "Se preteode
constituir una naci6n entresacando principios de las
constituciones y de los libros de otras naciones. If
Peru can develop a constitution that will meet her needs
she vill be able to "caminar con mas desenvoltura y con
ads seguridad por la send del progreso."18
Basic to Pardo's political ideology is the belief in
order, in contrast to the social and political chaos he
sees in nineteenth century Peru. In his poem "La lavan-
dera" he expresses this disorder when he says, "Cada uno
hace en mi tierra lo que quiere, Viva la libertad."1 In
"El paseo de Amaneaes," he uses every opportunity to compare
the disorganized picnic to Lima's political reality. He
described the morning "una maafna dudosa, indecisa,
intermitente," like the politicians who always save them-
selves, and draws a parallel between the amount of agita-
tion in the house and "el colegio electoral."20
The contrast between his belief in order and tranquil-
lity and the revolutionary and unsettled world in which he
lived was expressed throughout Pardo's work. In "La
constituci6n political" he talks about "el ridiculo con-
traste que ha formado siempre entire nosotros la letra de
las instituciones con la vergonzosa y miserable evidencia
de nuestra estructura social."21 He proceeds to illustrate
this idea in the text of the poem in which he presents
a caricature of the dominant constitution of the Peru of
The most intimate relationship between Pardo's politi-
cal ideology and his literary principles is based on his
belief in a preliminary model for literature as well as
for political systems. Pardo inherits from his neoclassi-
cal past and his education in the Academia del Mirto with
Alberto Lista a belief in order, in life as well as in
literature.23 Jose de la Riva AguEro lists Pardo's
literary principles as "love for neatness and perfection,
a love for logic and order and a desire for rationality,
precision and regularity.24
Neither Pardo nor his friends Alberto Lists and Josa
Joaqufn de Mora, equated neoclassicism vith a rigid
adherence to rules. All three defended the rules only as
useful guidelines. Their main objection was to the
Romantics' reliance on genius to the exclusion of rules.
Lista stressed the need for "el gusto ejercitado y per-
feccionado," which was to be Pardo's guiding literary
principle. Mora cirticized rigid adherence to neoclassic
Since Pardo believed that Peru lacked an educated
elite to govern it, one of the prime purposes of his
cuadros was to bring attention to the need for a better
educational system.26 In his poems he states over and
over the need for education. He calls Peru "la infeliz
naci6n, a quien prime, De la Ignorancia el h6rrido
vestigo."27 In the poem "El Perd," he expresses his belief
in a government ruled by reason:
Cultural el pueblo, si; la turba ociosa
Que en la inacci6n y cripula vegeta,
Es tiempo ya que en servidumbre horrorosa
De la raz6n al yugo se someta;28
He is particularly concerned with the low quality of
women's education and the ignorance of the clergy who were
normally in charge of education. In "El paseo." he chooses
the character of Rosaura as an example of the low standards
for vomen's education. He describes her educational
opportunities in the following words:
Rosaura no babin ertado en colejio, porque a mas
de que eotre nosotros no hay establecimientos per-
fectos de este J4nero, en su nines la falta era
mayor. Rosaura no debi6 I la education piblica
mas que un modo de leer, que seria abominable
ai despues no lo hubiese correjido,--una letra
parecida & los caracteres chinos de las cajas
de t4 . y algunas costuras de las que forman
el a b c de la profession. Despues, la education
privada enriqueci6 el espiritu de Rosaura hasta
donde se puede enriquecer en un pals tan pobre
de maestros. Pero sea de esto lo que fuere, lo
cierto es que Rosaura, sin colejio, con malos
maestros, y sin una norma segura de lo que llamar6
buen tono .. ."29
Pardo does not look to the clergy to solve Peru's
educational problem. Indeed he portrays it as greedy,
ignorant, and more interested in food than in education.
In "Un viaje" the preparation of the food for Don Goyito's
trip is completely dominated by the nuns and priests of
the different convents.30 In "El paseo" the priest is
reminded by the words Panem nostrum quotidianum not of God
bat butter and he asks that Doea Escolastica's servant go
to his house and get a piece of butter that he is keeping
under the bed. The lack of basic sanitary habits is
acknowledged by his hostess Doad Escolastica who says
"Santo Dios; debajo de la cama. No sera la hija de mi madre
quien la coma.3
Pardo specifies concretely what traits of his fellow
upper class limefos he would like to change: their pro-
vincialism, their lack of interest in serious matters and
obsession with ceremony and frivolity, their indiscriminate
aping of foreign habits and, finally, and their general
taste in literature, above all the theatre.
Upper class provincialism is the target for many of his
attacks. In "Un viaje" he discusses the dislike for travel.
Don Goyit's sisters agree for the first time to visit a
nearby port, "solo por el buen hermano pudieran hacer el
horrendo sacrificio de ir por primers vez al Callao."32
He sums up other lineeos' attitudes to travel: "Asi
viajaban nuestros abuelos: asi viajarian, si se deter-
minansen a viajar, nuchos de la Jeneracion que acaba, y
muchos de la jeneracion actual, que conservan el tipo de
loa tiempoa del virey Aviles; y ni sun asi viajarian otros
por no viajar de ningun modo.33
Alberto Tauro, anong others, has implied that what
Pardo fished to do was to impose as a model the customs of
Spain. Be states, "en conclusion, es possible establecer
que, por baberse educado en Espasa, don Felipe Pardo y
Aliaga no podfa sufrir el relative primitivismo de las
costunres que durante so 6poca predominaron entire
nosotros. Jean Franco believes that Pardo admired
British democracy and that he wished to graft European
standards of excellence on Peru.35
In actuality Pardo wanted Peruvians to exchange pro-
vincialism for universalism. In "Opera y nacionalismo,"
an easay-cuadro published in El espejo de mi tierra, he
refers to two kinds of concepts that are radical anti-
theses to the self-centeredness of his fellow limeRos:
Pan-Hispanism and universal culture. In discussing
nationalism, be states that Peruvians lack a theory or con-
cept of nationalism separate from their own personal
interests. "Que las distintas epocas y los distintos
intereses momentaneos y personales decide de nuestras
opinions: que tomamos nuy a menudo el rabano por las
hojas."3 He adds that Peruvians become anti-foreigner
when it is in their interest and reminds them of the exis-
tance of "la antigua familiar hispano-americana," based on
intellectual bonds. This literary purpose is closely re-
lated to his belief in government by an educated elite.
Again, he presents an alternative to the provincialism
which he satirizes in the essay. Pardo believes that we
are all citizens of an intellectual world, because as he
says, "la partria de las artes es el mundo civilizado y la
patria de los artists es la patria de las artes."38
One of Pardo's guiding purposes is to mirror in his
cuadros the frivolous and futile life led by upper class
limeaos and particularly the lack of maturity in its male
members. Since the purpose of his cuadros is to change
society not be presenting a rigid model, but instead by
allowing his readers to see themselves in the mirror of
El espeJo, the ludicrous characters of Don Goyito in "Un
viaJe" and Don Pantaleon in "El paseo* have a function
beyond that of mere amusement.
Don Goyito or el Nflo Goyito, the main character of
"Un viaje," is not only Pardo's most famous creation, but
one of the most famous in all Peruvian literature. He has
been called by Luis Alberto Sanchez, "Un poco el retrato
del Perd, con su sociedad sedentaria, circunscripta a Bus
chicos problems privativos . .3 His most outstanding
trait is his complete lack of maturity characterized by
absence of independent and decisive action. As Pardo
says, "hay much gentes que van al panteon como salieron
del vientre de su madre.*O At the beginning of the
cuadro El nifo Goyito has just spent three years trying to
decide how to answer letters which tell him that it is
argent be travel to Chile to settle business.
Not only is Goyito indecisive, but all of his decisions
have to be made with the help of "el confesor, y con el
medico y con los amigos."1 In addition, Goyito is con-
trolled by a crowd of sisters, known as "las nifas," the
youngest of which is at least sixty-two years old. El
niBo is not only someone who will never mature, but he is
completely controlled by other children, the niSas. With
the names HiBo Goyito and las niflas Pardo very cleverly
uses colloquial Peruvian expressions for satirical pur-
poses. The common habit of calling grown adults nifo or
nifa, widespread even today in some parts of Latin