Following in the footsteps of Valle-Inclán in Galicia

Between his birth, in Vilanova de Arousa, and his death, in Compostela, Valle-Inclán lived for seasons in Galicia, where several cities remember his time, as well as many specific places that are reflected in his work.

Let’s start at the beginning: the Quadrant House. Although he said that he was born on a sailing boat in the middle of the estuary, it seems that he was born in this house, in Vilanova de Arousa, on October 28, 1866. It was the manor house of his maternal grandparents, so it is clear that his origins are semi-aristocratic. The manor house changed owners until, in 1994, after a fire, it was acquired by the town hall and rehabilitated as a house-museum. On the ground floor, where the stables were when he was a child, there is now a permanent exhibition on his life and work, with first editions and original documents; on the top floor, the recreation of a home of the time. In the garden, the camellias and the great magnolia tree that are more than a century old stand out. As a child he also lived in the manor house on Rúa Nova, between Vilanova and Vilagarcía de Arousa.

Vilanova always remembers his ties with Valle-Inclán. If we approach the promenade, we see a group of sculptures, by Lucas Míguez, 2006, which is a tribute to the writer and the best-known characters of his work: Max Estrella and Don Latino, the Marquis of Bradomín, Prince Verdemar and MariGaila.

Precisely, this summer he is also remembered with a theatrical festival, Festivall, entirely dedicated to his work, with a summer course and events around the author.

In Santiago he half-studied law, since he applied himself more to literary and café life. Here he published his first works in weeklies and newspapers such as Café congas or El Pueblo Gallego. He stayed in Compostela between 1885 and 1890.

After spending a season in Madrid and Mexico, he returned to Pontevedra, where he had already studied high school. Two corners of the old town remind us of his figure. One, the house in the Five Streets Square, next to an interesting baroque transept. Another, the Méndez Núñez Square, next to the house of the Muruais. Jesús Muruais, who had a rich library, was very important in the formation of Valle-Inclán. It had the largest collection of French literature in Galicia, and was up to date with the latest publishing news in Madrid, London and Paris. And, in addition to reading, there was a lot of talk there, of course, which were times of literary gatherings.

In Pontevedra, in 1895, she published her first book: Femeninas. Seis historias amorosas, developing the aesthetics of the new times. As he defines his literary style, he also defines his look. The icon is born: it is when he begins to wear a cape, a hat, a scarf, and to forget about the razor blade forever.

In the Plaza de Méndez Núñez he is remembered today with a bronze statue, in a walking posture, made by César Lombera in 2003.

In the middle of 1995 he definitively returned to Madrid, to immerse himself in literary and theatrical life. He brings his aesthetic ideals, modernism, anti-realism, dandyism, bohemianism… to his work and to his life. He also marries the actress Josefina Blanco and they travel a lot with the theater. And, from time to time, they end up in Galicia.

In 1912 he moved with the family to Cambados, where they lived on Calle Real. Sadly, here their son dies after four months, so, perhaps for a change of scenery, they move to A Pobra do Caramiñal, which they will alternate with long stays in Madrid.

In A Pobra do Caramiñal there are many places linked to Valle-Inclán. The first, the house of Colo da Arca, in Santa Cruz de Lasón, which was the childhood home of the maternal family. They also lived in the Torre de Bermúdez, an inheritance from their father. Since 1987 it has been operating as a museum, where first editions of works, manuscripts and personal belongings are kept. In addition, it has an exhibition hall and an auditorium.

The nucleus of the summer gatherings was in the back room of the Farmacia de Tato, on Calle Real. With Santiago Tato he also used to make excursions through O Barbanza.

Between 1917 and 1921 they lived in the Pazo da Mercé although, while it was being rehabilitated, they spent time at the Fonda Ferro. In the pazo, the family increased, two more, and literary production increased too, with works such as Divine Words, Silver Face or The Horns of Don Friolera were born here. The manor house suffered a fire in 1983 from which only part of the façade and the chapel were saved.

In Villa Eugenia, on Rúa de San Roque, they live between 21 and 25, and they also have more children and books. The writer also spends time in the Torre de Xunqueiras, convalescing from an involuntary shot in the foot, where he found the perfect setting for his Autumn Sonata.

Another key site in A Pobra is Mount A Curota, where he liked to go on excursions. Already in 1919 the friends and neighbors of the town had given him a tribute party. In 1936 they installed a bust of him signed by Benito Prieto Coussent. Now, the O Alto da Lagoa viewpoint is called Valle-Inclán viewpoint.

In 1925, Valle-Inclán returned to Santiago to treat bladder cancer. He was always seen at the gatherings of the Derby, the Spanish, or the Savoy. Precisely, a bust reminds us, the work of Fernando Blanco, in the Plaza de Galicia, looking towards the Derby, now disappeared. Ten years later he returns to spend a season for medical reasons and, in the end, he dies on January 5, 1936. He is buried in the Boisaca cemetery.

Today we can still share a bench with him in the Alameda, where a statue made by César Lombero in 1995 rests. For years, on International Theater Day, in the statue of Valle-Inclan in Recoletos, in Madrid (by Francisco Toledo, 1973), a white scarf is placed on him, as a symbol of gratitude to playwrights of all ages. In this one of the Alameda, they put a red one, commemorating his return to Galicia.

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