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Modernism and the New SpainBritain, Cosmopolitan Europe, and Literary History$
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Gayle Rogers

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199914975

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199914975.001.0001

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. Lytton Strachey and La nueva biografía in Spain

. Lytton Strachey and La nueva biografía in Spain

Avant-garde Literature, the New Liberalism, and the Ruins of the Nineteenth Century

(p.95) 3. Lytton Strachey and La nueva biografía in Spain
Modernism and the New Spain

Gayle Rogers

Oxford University Press

My third chapter considers one of the greatest successes of the cross-cultural dialogues I treat: the interwar wave of the New Biography, which emerged in Spain as la nueva biografía during the country’s liberal moment. In the years of la nueva biografía (1928–34), a fantastic array of Spanish authors, both famous and undiscovered, produced what have been called “vanguard biographies” in experimental, impressionistic styles inspired both by Strachey’s Eminent Victorians and by revolutions in interwar Spanish fiction. I read Marichalar’s remarkable, entertaining biography, The Perils and Fortune of the Duke of Osuna (1930), as a reworking of Strachey’s critiques of nineteenth-century imperialism and hypocritical liberalism. Further enacting the modernist break with the previous century, Marichalar first conceives of his translating Strachey as a cosmopolitan enterprise, then builds in his own work an irony-laden portrait of Spain’s historical failures around his demystifying account of the life of a profligate aristocrat. Osuna was published, too, during the final days of Spain’s period of dictatorship and monarchy, stretching through the founding of the pro-European Spanish Second Republic in 1931. At this moment, Republican reformers looked both within and beyond Spain in their attempt to establish Europe’s most progressive democracy. Avant-garde authors who were part of this “new liberalism,” as it was called, adapted the cosmopolitan genre of the New Biography in order to remake a state seen by the continent as hopelessly feudalistic.

Keywords:   Lytton Strachey, Antonio Marichalar, New Biography, La nueva biografía, Second Republic, liberalism, aristocracy, irony, satire

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