Peruvian costumbrismo - 1830-1870

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Peruvian costumbrismo - 1830-1870 antecedents and representatives
Watson, Maida Isabel, 1945-
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viii, 229 leaves : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Hispanics ( jstor )
Literary criticism ( jstor )
Literary dialogue ( jstor )
Literature ( jstor )
Middle class ( jstor )
Narratives ( jstor )
Novels ( jstor )
Satire ( jstor )
Theater ( jstor )
Writers ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- Romance Languages and Literatures -- UF ( lcsh )
Peruvian literature -- History and criticism ( lcsh )
Peruvian prose literature ( lcsh )
Romance Languages and Literatures thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: leaves 222-228.
General Note:
General Note:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Maida Watson Espener.

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Maida Watson Espener





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.

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . ... . vi


I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . .. .1

Botes . . . . . . . . 3


Notes . . . . . . .. . 1


Notes . . . . . . . . 28


Notes . . . ... . . . . 42


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


MODEL FOR PERU . . . . . . .. 80

Purpose ............... . 81
Tone . . . . . . . . .. . 95
Attitude . . . . . . . . 97
Point of View . . . ...... 99
Time . . . . . . . . .. .105
Action . . . . . . . . .. .108
Language . . . . . . . .. .109
Characterization ... . . . .. 113
Notes . . . . . . . ... .117

FOR CRIOLLO ROOTS . . . . . . 12b

Purpose . . . . . . . . 126
Attitude and Tone . . . . . .. .130
Point of View . . . . . . .132
Time and Action . . . . . ... .137
Language ...... . . ... ... .139
Characterization . . . . . .. 145
Notes . . . . . . . . 148


Purpose . . ... . . . . 154
Tone and Attitude . . . . . . 159
Point of View . . . . . . .. 160
Time . . . . . . . . .. .162
Language ... . ..... ... 163
Characterization . . . . . .. 167
Length . . . . . . . . .. .170
Notes ............... .. 172


Purpose ........... ...... 17T
Tone and Attitude . . . . . .. 184
Point of View . . . . . . .. 185
Language .. ............... 190
Characterization . . . . . 194
Notes . . . ... . . . . .. 199


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



Maida Watson Espener

August 1976

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),
Chapter 17.



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

costumbrista literature.

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

quasi-fictional costumbrismo.

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),
p. Tl.

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.



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

picaresque novelists.

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

this possibility.

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

Spanish literature.

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,
P. 9.

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-



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

French Romantics.19

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*,"
pp. 372-73.

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.


14nIid., pP.Ixxi.

15lesonero, p. 56.

16Ueelay da Cal, Los espaRoles pintados por si mismos,
p. 160.

17Jose Luis Varela, El costumbrismo romgntico, p. 12.

18Ucelay da Cal, p. 80.

19Ibid., pp. 83-84.

20Correa Calder6n, I, Ixxx.

21Ibid., lxxiii.

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.



Inner Structure

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

of reality.

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

and concentration.

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.

- I--~----~

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

own sake.

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
old ones.

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

explains it:

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

symbolic portraiture.


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
de costumbres.

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

s acci6n."13



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

disappearing Spain.

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

confidential servant.

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),
p. 6.

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,"
p. 13b.

42Montgomery, p. 19.

63Baquero Goyanes, El cuento espasol en el siglo XIX,
p. 96.

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.



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

his times.22

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