1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Palacio Valdés, Armando

PALACIO VALDES, ARMANDO (1853-), Spanish novelist and critic, was born at Entralgo, in the province of Asturias, on the 4th of October 1853. His first writings were printed in tke Revista Europca. These were pungent essays, remarkable for independent judgment and refined humour, and found so much favour with the public that the young beginner was soon appointed editor of the Revista. The best of his critical work is collected in Los Oradores del Atcneo (1878), Los Novelistas espanoles (187S), Nuevo viaje al Parnaso and La Literatura en 1881 (1882), this last being written in collaboration with Leopoldo Alas. In 1881 he published a novel. El Seiiorito Octavio, which shows an uncommon power of observation, and the promise of better things to come. In Marta y Maria (1883), a portrayal of the struggle between religious vocation and earthly passion, somewhat in the manner of Valera, Palacio Valdes achieved a very popular triumph which placed him in the first rank of contemporary Spanish novelists. El Idilio de un cnfermo (1884), a most interesting fragment of autobiography, has scarcely met with the recognition which it deserves: perhaps because the pathos of the story is too unadorned. The publication of Pereda's Sotilcza is doubtless responsible for the conception of Jose (1885), in which Palacio Valdes gives a realistic picture of the manners and customs of seafaring folk, creates the two convincing characters whom he names Jose and Leonarda, and embellishes the whole with passages of animated description barely inferior to the finest penned by Pereda himself. The emotional imagination of the writer expressed itself anew in the charming story Riverita (1886), one of whose attractive characters develops into the heroine of Maximina (1887); and from Maximina, in its turn, is taken the novice who figures as a professed nun among the personages of La Hermana San Sulpicio (1889), in which the love-passages between Zeferino Sanjurjo and Gloria Bermúdez are set off with elaborate, romantic descriptions of Seville. El Cuarto poder (1888) is, as its name implies, concerned with the details, not always edifying, of journalistic life. Two novels issued in 1892, La Espuma and La Fe, were enthusiastically praised in foreign countries, but in Spain their reception was cold. The explanation is to be found in the fact that the first of these books is an avowed satire on the Spanish aristocracy, and that the second was construed into an attack upon the Roman Catholic Church. During the acrimonious discussion which followed the publication of La Espuma, it was frequently asserted that the artist had improvised a fantastic caricature of originals whom he had never seen; yet as the characters in Coloma's Pequeñeces are painted in darker tones, and as the very critics who were foremost in charging Palacio Valdés with incompetence and ignorance are almost unanimous in praising Coloma's fidelity, it is manifest that the indictment against La Espuma cannot be maintained. Subsequently Palacio Valdés returned to his earlier and better manner in Los Majos de Cádiz (1896) and in La Algería del Capitán Ribot (1899). In these novels, and still more in Tristán, ó el pesimismo (1906), he frees himself from the reproach of undue submission to French influences. In any case he takes a prominent place in modern Spanish literature as a keen analyst of emotion and a sympathetic, delicate, humorous observer.  (J. F.-K.)