“Sun shine between sudden rains. Time of fairs in Viana del Prior. Corners of the Colegiata. Trestles and wooden wheels under the arcades. Green and red serge, packsaddles and garrisons. A coastal field rises on the side of the church. Oak shadows with cattle”.
This is how Ramón María del Valle-Inclán describes the urban landscape of Viana del Prior, the mythical town in which Divine Words, one of his most celebrated works, takes place. The town has many similarities to A Pobra do Caramiñal, although the mark left by the writer, one of the most important avant-garde artists of twentieth-century Spain, is deep in many other locations in Galicia.
Vilanova de Arousa
Ramón José Simón Valle Peña was born in 1866 in Vilanova de Arousa to a well-off family, of noble origin and still collectors of old feudal rents. According to some theories, the future playwright came into this world in the so-called Casa do Cantillo; others indicate that the birth took place in the nearby Casa do Cuadrante, now a museum dedicated to the author. Valle was not much help when verifying his biographical data, loving as much as he did to paint himself in a mysterious light: he even said that he had been born on a boat in the middle of the estuary, between Vilanova and A Pobra. Vilanova remembers him with a large group of sculptures located by to the sea, in which the writer shares space with several of his most famous creations. The illustrious journalist Julio Camba was also born in this town.
Vilagarcía de Arousa
Right between the municipalities of Vilanova and Vilagarcía (to which it belongs) is the Pazo de Rúa Nova, linked to the author’s family. Valle speaks of it in works such as Autumn Sonata and is a fantastic example of Galician noble architecture.
Valle-Inclán lived for a few years on the Rúa Real in this town of enormous literary heritage. Walking through its streets you can follow the steps of Ramón Cabanillas, the great poet of the Galician race, or Alfredo Brañas, father of Galician regionalism. Cambados proved to be a tough experience for Valle: his second son was born there in 1914, only to die a few months later. Valle’s baby and wife both rest in the cemetery of the romantic church of Santa Mariña de Dozo, very close to the city.
A Pobra do Caramiñal
A pobra is, along with Vilanova, a quintessential Valle-Inclán town. The writer spent part of his life here, and even today you can see several well recognizable places, starting with the Tower of Bermúdez, a museum dedicated to the author, which opens onto a square presided over by his effigy with glasses and long beard. A Pobra also houses the Tato Pharmacy, which hosted heated gatherings in which Valle, shameless seeker of controversy, participated with a passion; or the house called Villa Eugenia, in which the critical “dictator novel” Tyrant Banderas was written. Leaving A Pobra towards Boiro, next to the old road, is the Pazo da Mercé, in which Valle-Inclán tried unsuccessfully to live life as a noble for a few years. The building is now in ruins.
Valle spent his high school years here and returned to live in the city several times. A statue commemorates him at the Méndez Núñez square.
Santiago de Compostela
The playwright studied Law at the University at the end of the nineteenth century, without much enthusiasm, and the Galician capital is his final resting place.. Sick and bankrupt, he returned to the city in 1935 only to pass away the following year. He is buried in the cemetery of Boisaca, and he is commemorated with two statues near the old town: one, sitting on one of the benches of A Ferradura promenade, with views of the Cathedral; and another, a bust in Praza de Galicia, in front of the Café Derby which he frequented in his last few months.