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Mexican Society as Seen by Fernandez de Lizardi

Mexican Society as Seen by Fernandez de Lizardi

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Mexican Society as Seen by Fernández de LizardiAuthor(s): J. R. SpellReviewed work(s):Source:
Hispania,
Vol. 8, No. 3 (May, 1925), pp. 145-165Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 01/03/2013 20:01
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HISPANIA
VOLUME
VIII
May,1925
NUMBER
3
MEXICAN SOCIETYASSEEN BYFERNANDEZDE LIZARDI
Whetherregardedfromaliterary,ahistorical,orasociologicalstandpoint,the worksofFernaindezdeLizardi,better known as"ElPensadorMexicano,"deserveattention,forthereinmaybefound thebestexistingpicturesof the mannersandcustomsoftheMexicancapitalintheopeningdecadesof thenineteenthcentury.Inaddition toenjoyingthe distinctionofhaving producedthe bestpicaresquenovel writteninAmerica,thiswriterhasjustlymeritedtheappreciationof hiscountrymenforhavingachievedforMexico,inElPeriquilloSarniento,whatMesoneroRomanosdreamed ofdoingforSpain-tousethepicaresquenovelasavehiclefor anattackonthepolitical,thesocial,andthereligiousabuses ofhis time.AmongotherlongerworksinwhichLizardi satirizedlifeinMexicomaybementionedthree novels: Don CatrindelaFachenda,pica-resque,also,inform;LaQuijotitaysuPrima,which dealswiththelife andeducationofwomen;andLasNoches Tristes. Besidesthese,Lizardiproducedhundredsofshortarticles,manyofwhich,inthewealth of detailofhabits andcustoms,foreshadow thecostumbristamovement whichwastogainascendancy onlyashorttimelaterinSpain.Theknownfacts connected with Lizardi's life aremeagre.BorninMexicoCityin1776,1hereceived the education of aSpaniardof the betterclass,whichincluded- auniversitycourse. Ofhis lifeafterleavingtheUniversityofMexicowithout adegree,practicallynothingisknown until theappearance,in1812,ofEl PensadorMe.xicano,theperiodicalfrom whichhispseudonymis derived.The
1
GonzalezObreg6n,L.,"ElPensadorMexicano,"inCultura,Mexico,1918,vol.VI,p.3.
145
This content downloaded on Fri, 1 Mar 2013 20:01:42 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
 
146
HISPANIA
attackslaunchedin thispaperagainsttheSpanishofficials ledtoitssuppressionand totheimprisonmentoftheeditor;butshortlyafterhis releasewaseffected,thepublicationwas resumedandcontinuedthroughouttheyear1814. Twoyearslaterthree volumesofElPeriquilloappeared;thefourth wassuppressed bythegovern-ment.In1818 LaQuijotitaandLasNochesTristeswerepublished,but Don Catrinprobablydid not comefromthepressuntil after thedeathoftheauthorin 1827.Althoughnoneoftheworksof Lizardi revealtheartisticfinishwhichdistinguishesthemasterpiecesofsomeofthepicaresqueandcostumbristawriters ofSpain,it mustberememberedthatthepro-ductionofliteraturewassubsidiaryto thePensador'spurposeofeffectingreformsinthesocietyinwhich helived.Thisaccounts,tosomeextent,forthepresenceofthemany moralizing passageswhichmar thecontinuityofhisnarratives;for Lizardi visionedhimselfastreadingthepathof Cervantes'greathero,of whomhesaid:D.Quijotetambien moralizabaypredicabaa cadapaso,ytantoquesu criadole deciaquepodia cogerunpfllpitoenlasmanosyandarporesosmundospredicandolindezas.2SoLizardi,notinspeech,butthroughthepress,raisedhisvoice,cryingoutforthe reformof someoftheabusesunderwhichhesawMexicosuffering.To onewholovedhis nativeland asLizardididitmusthaveseemedverypathetictoseethe wonderfulregioninwhichtheCityofMexicoliesthe sceneofso muchcorruptionandmisery.ForMexicoCitynestlesinavalleyrichintropicalfruitsandflowers,althoughenclosedbysnow-cladmountains.Risingabovethebedoflakes whichformerlyinundatedthedistrict,the formercapitaloftheAzteckingdom,attheopeningofthe19thcentury,was nomeanIndianvillage;in itspalaces,churches,andmonasteries,it viedwiththecapitalsofEurope.WithintheseedificeserectedbytheSpan-iards,thewealthwhichhadbeenwrestedfromthe mines ofMexicotendedtocastintotheshadethelavishnesswith whichNaturehadadornedthelandscapewithout.Sunshineandaclimatewhichknewneitherextremeof heatnor ofcoldluredall classesto a lifeofeasy
2
"ApologiadelPeriquilloSarniento," reprintedinthe 4th ed.of ElPeri-auilloSarniento,Mexico, 1842,vol.I,p.XV.The"Apologia"appearedfirstin NoticiosoGeneral,nos.487and488,Mexico,Feb.12and15,1819.
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