Fernández de lizardi and Sierra O ‘ Reilly, pioneers of the Mexican novel * / By José Emilio Pacheco

Fernández de lizardi and Sierra O ‘ Reilly, pioneers of the Mexican novel *

By José Emilio Pacheco


To find out who it is, where it comes from, what terrain Pisa, how it is the world around it, every person has the need to listen and read stories. The narration has always existed and will last as long as there are human beings. Our indigenous cultures have great wealth in myths and historical relationships. The Chronicles of the conquest, first books written in Spanish on these lands, are among the great works of the universal narrative. During the colonial centuries the American imagination took the form of legends transmitted orally. However, there were no novels in the lands subject to the culture that gave the first modern forms of this higher manifestation of the story: ‘ the guide de tormes ‘ (1554) and ‘ Don Quixote De La Mancha ‘ (1604-16).


The Two Royal Ballots (1532 and 1542) were alleged to have banned Spanish and indigenous people from reading “books of romances dealing with profane or fabulous subjects and stories, because there are many drawbacks”. The Review of colonial libraries shows that thousands of copies have been smuggled. In this part of the world, the ‘ Amadis de gaula ‘, the ‘ Quixote ‘ and the novels were read. Instead, the printers could not violate the ban. It was possible to write verses knowing that they would never be published; it was not the immense work of making a novel without any hope of being read.

Indians, blacks and castes were completely out of the alphabet. The printed letter was the privilege of a few Spanish and Creole. Unlike protestantism that boosted literacy so that everyone could interpret the ‘Bible’, in the Latin American Latin America, the only valid interpretation was the one the preacher was doing from the pulpit.

There are a few protonovelas in the new Spain: ‘ the sirgueros of the virgin ‘ (Francisco Bramón, 1620), ‘ the wonderful life of death ‘ (Joaquín Bolaños, 1792). Alonso Ramírez ‘ (1690) in which Carlos de sigüenza and góngora gave a written form to the story of a Puerto Rican sailor captured by the pirates. He started what Manuel Pedro González called in 1949 “the journalistic proclivity of the Mexican novel”. in times of the novel non-fiction, the report story or the true novel, this seems to be a quality and no longer a defect.


Nor was there a novel in Spain during the th century. Meanwhile, the genus flourished in England and France. There the progress of the training allowed the editorial boom. This in turn made it possible for the commoners to dedicate themselves to the letters without the patronage of the nobles and the protection of the convent.

In the literary halls and cafes the European languages were perfected until they acquired their current form. Modern Prose was born, the new prose for the new public, clear, precise, synthetic, opposed to sermon and oratory. The Clarity, democracy of style, became a political principle: it aspired to the fact that the texts could be read by as many as possible. Against the exclusivism of the taverns, the women presiding the halls; they adjusted their contertulios to discuss with simplicity and charm any subject. The Prose was no longer high and grandiose as in the previous century. It was attempted to take out the ecclesiastical domain and its university pockets to know and information to bring them all through the book and its extensions: the newspaper and the magazine.


The modern novel and journalism were born together to be the book of the people, the reading of those who had never had access to it before. The novel allowed its new readers to be recognized in the characters, talked about private life and the right of everyone to be free and to improve themselves. It was the fruit of the great revolutions of the th-Social, scientific, technological, intellectual – which were not given in Latin America. His writers had to learn everything from the beginning. To join this tradition new began to translate novels. The first translator, the Dominican Jacobo de villaurrutia, founded the ‘ Journal of Mexico ‘ (1805-17). The first two mexican novelists, José Joaquín Fernández De Lizardi (1786-1827) and justo Sierra O ‘ Reilly (1814-61) were Also tireless founders of magazines and newspapers.

Accustomed to today’s novels, lizardi and Sierra find us primitive, which certainly does not happen with the ‘ Quixote ‘. And it was that the writers of their time decided that literature was no longer going to be like before: Imitation of classic models. When to the technique, the “know how to do” preferred the inspiration lost the work of the language that would not recover until the end of the century with modernism. Between a colonial order that died and another, Republican, who were going to help to be born with the action of his books, novelists as lizardi and Sierra assumed the double task of satisfying and stimulating the growing desire for reading and building the citizens In political and moral terms.


Lizardi made his entire career as a novelist in the five years-1815-20-in which the colonial censorship prevented him from exercising journalism. In Part, the first novel written in Latin America, ‘the mangy parrot’ (1816), was not published in full until 1831 because the colonial authorities banned the movement of the third tome thanks to its condemnation of the Slavery.

‘the mangy’ was sold for deliveries, successive chapters. Lizardi opened the literary market and began to form a creole and mestizo public to replace the patron and the church grant. In the name of those who could not buy his writings, lizardi sought to instruct those who enjoyed the privilege of reading. Thus he divulged the reformist thinking of the th century in his form of Christian enlightenment or illustrated Christianity.

He stressed the moral aspect of his novel to cover his political content: the relentless criticism of the colonial system. ‘the mangy parrot’ is the portrait of our origin and the novel of corruption, the “Scabies” which constitutes the inheritance and revenge of the colony. Among other examples, there is a note (Volume, chapter) which is worth our days. The wealth of the subsoil, says lizardi, has been the misfortune of the country. The abundance of mines (or oil fields) damaged our moral character and prevented the cultivation of Agriculture, industry and trade. We bruise our ability to work and awaken foreign greed. The exploitation of what is due to nature and not to the human effort concentrates wealth in a few and spreads misery: for twenty powerful millions and millions of poor people.

Lizardi saw the ferment of our corruption from the cradle to the vicinity of the grave. There was no institution or custom that was free of reproach: marriage, bureaucracy, University, administration of justice, police, hospitals, prisons… ‘the mangy parrot’ means the criticism of daily life in Which is done and rid a society. Its aim is to present a satirical mirror for us to see ourselves and manage to heal the “Scabies”: the corruption that in its infinite nuances and patterns infects us all and opens up a chasm, today as then, between what we want To be and what we are.


Thirty years separate the novels of lizardi and Sierra O ‘ Reilly. In Its course the country achieved independence, not by the triumph of the insurgents but by the cuartelazo of the royalist army. Mexico was divided among those who wished to maintain the colonial order and those who sought to create a modern nation. The most intense intellectual activity was, it had to be, the controversy. Our best literature of those years is not in the novel or in the verse: it must be sought in journalism and.

Two Poets, José Joaquín Heavy and Ignacio Rodríguez Galván, started the Mexican story. The appearance of the second major novelist, Sierra O ‘ Reilly, who published in yucatán ‘ a year at st. Lazarus’s hospital, was expected to wait a long time. Two dates are given for her: if it is 1841, Sierra O ‘ Reilly is a precursor; if it is 1845-46, it shares with ‘ the devil’s fistol ‘ (Manuel Payno) to have started the novel of Independent Mexico – Lizardi did not try the narrative after 1820.


Two Central Events in the development of the novel move away to Sierra De Lizardi: in 1814, when the writer yucatec was born, Walter Scott published ‘Waverly’ (translated in Mexico by José María De Heredia in 1833). The historical novel and above all inspires the analysis of contemporary society by telling the facts no distance as the chronicler and the historian, but directly and from the inside in a succession of dramatic scenes, this is: told, described and dialogadas.

On June 16, 1836, Emile girardin launches in Paris ‘La Presse’, a newspaper which thanks to advertising can be sold at half price. To seduce the public and attract subscribers, girardin publishes every day in a leaf (the “Feuilleton”) the chapter of a novel.

The Art of writing changes with the appearance of the suspense and its formula: “will continue in the next number”. the success is immense and all the newspapers imitate ‘La Presse’. ‘s novel travels around the world. It is the popular literature and fair Sierra O ‘ Reilly, the first to practice it on these lands, deserves a place that has not yet been given to the initiators of the Mexican novel. ~


Presentation of the first novels (Promexa, 1985, 856 PP. ), which contains ‘ the mangy parrot ‘ of José Joaquín Fernández de lizardi and ‘ one year at st. Lazarus Hospital ‘ De Justo Sierra O ‘ Reilly. The volume is part of the “great collection of Mexican literature”. its circulation was 11,500 copies.

* the title was modified, since the original is “presentation”.


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