Azorín (josé Martínez Ruiz): Biography, Style And Works

Azorín (José Martínez Ruiz)  (1873-1967) was a Spanish writer who lived between the 19th and 20th centuries. He stood out as a novelist, essayist, literary critic, theater critic and journalist. He also wrote some pieces for theater linked to the expressionist current.

He was part of the so-called Generation of 98 along with great names in Spanish letters. His teammates include Miguel de Unamuno , Antonio Machado , Jacinto Benavente and Ramón del Valle-Inclán , among others.

Azorín was an extremely prolific author and one of the most representative of his generation. In his later years, he was even noted as a film critic.

He is remembered for his simple and precise writing style, with beautiful but simple descriptions. In his facet as a journalist, one can see his political tendency that mediated between anarchism and republican ideas, which he professed during his youth. Towards the end of his life he became rather conservative.

Among his most relevant writings are The Literary Criticism in Spain , The Literary Anarchists , The Confessions of a Little Philosopher , Don Juan , Doña Inés , The Landscape of Spain Seen by the Spaniards and The Island Without aurora .


Early years

José Augusto Trinidad Martínez Ruiz was born on June 8, 1873 in Monóvar, a town in the Valencian community, in the province of Alicante, in southeastern Spain. He was the first-born of a large family.

His parents had a certain reputation and economic comfort. His father was Isidro Martínez, a lawyer by profession, who served as mayor and deputy for the conservative party. Her mother was María Luisa Ruiz.

He completed his first studies in the town of Yecla —in Murcia, his father’s hometown — as an intern at the school of the Piarist fathers. At the age of 15, in 1888, he enrolled in a Law degree at the University of Valencia.

During his youth he was interested in texts on politics and studied especially anarchism and Krausism.

First journalistic publications

In those years, Martínez Ruiz published his first articles in newspapers such as El Mercantil Valenciano , El echo de Monóvar and El Pueblo , of which Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, one of his mentors, was the director. These articles were signed by the author with pseudonyms such as “Fray José”, “Juan de Lis” and “Cándido”, among others.

His first essays on politics and literature were published in 1895 under the titles of Social Notes and Literary Anarchists . This interest in journalistic work led him to move to Madrid on November 25, 1896.

In the Spanish capital he continued to publish articles in the most famous newspapers and magazines of the time, such as El País , El Globo , El Progreso , El impartial , Juventud , Alma española and  Revista Nueva , among others

These publications appeared signed with some of the pseudonyms that he used in the Valencia newspapers and he used others such as “Chivarri” and “Ahrimán”, until later he began to sign as Azorín, alias that became famous along with his work.

Group of three and their manifesto

José Martínez Ruiz received support from Leopoldo Alas in Madrid and began to gain some fame as a writer. Together with the also writers Ramiro Maetzu and Pío Baroja y Nessi, he formed the Group of three, which constituted the germ of what was later known as the Generation of 98.

The Group of Three was established with a manifesto published in the magazine Juventud in December 1901. 

The Manifesto of the three proposed to face the main social problems that Spain suffered at that time, such as poverty and moral degradation, through a series of progressive measures such as free education and the legalization of divorce.

The purpose of these measures was to get Spain to catch up with other European countries in terms of social and educational progress. However, the group was active only until 1904, participating in meetings and publishing in the magazine Juventud .

First novels and dissolution of the Group of three

In the first five years of the 20th century, Martínez Ruiz published his first novels: The Will , Antonio Azorín and The Confessions of a Little Philosopher . All were autobiographical in nature and were signed under the pseudonym Azorín, which he did not abandon from then on.

Once the Group of Three was dissolved, Azorín abandoned the radically anarchist position that characterized him and began to link up with politicians and groups with a more conservative tendency. At that time he walked with Antonio Maura, president of the Council of Ministers, and Juan de la Cierva y Peñafiel.

Public Official and Editor at ABC

Thanks to this new political attitude, Azorín joined the editors of the newspaper ABC in 1910.

Likewise, he was also a deputy during five legislative periods between 1907 and 1919 and twice held the position of undersecretary of Public Instruction.

Marriage and travel

In 1908 he married Julia Guinda Urzanqui in Madrid, who accompanied him throughout his life as a writer. The couple had no children.

During these years he made numerous trips and excursions around Spain; In addition, he published countless articles and stories, and some travel books such as Spain. Men and landscapes , Madrid. Sentimental guide and The landscape of Spain as seen by the Spanish .

Collaborations with La vanguardia

Between 1914 and 1918 he was a contributor to the Barcelona newspaper La vanguardia , in which he published more than two hundred articles, mainly criticisms of literature and theater. At that time the newspaper was directed by Miquel dels Sants Oliver.

In 1924 he entered the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language. A year later he published Doña Inés , one of his most famous novels.


In 1926 his first theatrical work entitled Old Spain was released , which was followed by Brandy, a lot of brandy , Comedia del arte and the trilogy made up of La arañita en el sombra , El segador and Doctor Death and de 3 a 5 .

These theater pieces were not as well received by the public and critics, unlike his essays and novels.

Civil war

With the arrival to power of the military dictator Primo de Rivera, Azorín retired from public office. In 1936, after the outbreak of the Spanish civil war, he and his wife moved to Paris; there he remained for three years.

Upon his return to Madrid, he continued working as a contributor to the newspaper ABC and writing articles consistent with Franco’s policies.

Recognitions and last years of life

In 1943 he received in Spain the Prize of the Press Delegation. In 1946 he was recognized with the Grand Cross of Isabel la Católica and in 1956 he was awarded the Grand Cross of Alfonso X el Sabio.

In the following years he published numerous articles on literature and some novels such as The People , Feeling Spain , The Writer and La isla sin aurora .

In the 1940s and 1950s, he became interested in addressing film criticism. For this work he was awarded several recognitions by the Círculo de Escritores Cinematográfica de España.

He died on March 2, 1967 at his residence in Madrid, located at 21 Zorrilla street. He was 93 years old.


As for novels and narratives, Martínez Ruiz’s style is characterized by syntactic simplicity, rich vocabulary, and precision of adjectives, which appear in groups separated by commas.

His first novels were autobiographical. Later the author chose to develop complex characters, inhabitants of several times simultaneously. Such is the case of the protagonists of Don Juan and doña Inés , who face different conflicts and have a rich inner world that is expressed in short sentences.

Other of his novels, such as Félix Vargas , show avant-garde elements in the narrative structure, as well as dramatic characters.

As an essayist and literary critic, he stood out for constructing a discourse based on his personal impressions. This discourse, far from presenting a complex structural analysis of the writings, invites the reader to reflect on the works or authors studied.

These features are also observed in his travel books, in which he details his views on landscapes and people.

His theatrical pieces highlight the inner world of the characters, the subconscious and the imagination, which is why they belong to the expressionist current. However, this style did not find its way into Spanish theater at that time, which is why his plays for theater were not highly appreciated.

Complete works

The list of publications by José Martínez Ruiz is varied and numerous. It is made up of novels, short stories, plays, travel books, compilations of newspaper articles, and essays on literature, politics, and art. After the death of the author, his relatives published some unpublished essays, memoirs and compilations of his writings.

The main texts are presented below, in chronological order of publication:

XIX century

– Literary criticism in Spain (1893).

– Moratín (1891).

– Footbuster. Satires and criticism (1894).

– Social notes (vulgarization) (1895).

– Literature, first brochure and literary Anarchists (Notes on Spanish literature) (1895).

– Charivari (Discordant Criticism) (1897).

– Bohemia (stories) (1897).

– Solitudes (1898).

– Pécuchet, demágogue (1898).

– Criminal sociology and The evolution of criticism (1899).

– The Hidalgos (1900).

– The Castilian soul (1600-1800) (1900).

First half of the 20th century

– The strength of love. Tragicomedy and Diary of a Sick (1901).

– The will (1902).

– Antonio Azorín (1903).

– The confessions of a little philosopher (1904).

– The route of Don Quixote and the towns. Essays on provincial life (1905).

– The politician (1908).

– Spain. Men and Landscapes (1909).

– La Cierva (1910).

– Spanish readings (1912).

– Castilla (1912).

– Classic and modern (1913).

– The literary values (1914).

– The graduate Vidriera as seen by Azorín and On the margin of the classics (1915).

– A small town (Riofrío de Ávila) and Rivas and Larra. Social reason for romanticism in Spain (1916).

– Spanish parliamentarism (1904-1916) (1916).

– Selected Pages (1917).

– Between Spain and France (pages of a francophile) (1917).

– The landscape of Spain as seen by the Spanish (1917).

– Madrid. Sentimental guide (1918).

– Paris, bombed (May-June 1918) (1919).

– Fantasies and fancies. Politics, literature, nature (1920).

– The two Luises and other essays (1921).

– From Granada to Castelar and Don Juan (1922).

– The chirrión of politicians (1923).

– Racine and Molière and One hour from Spain (1560-1590) (1924).

– Doña Inés y Los Quinteros and other pages (1925).

– Old Spain (1926).

– Comedy of Art and Brandy, much brandy (1927).

– Félix Vargas and The invisible. Trilogy (1928).

– Walking and Walking (1929).

– White in Blue (Tales) (1929).

– Superrealism (1929).

– Maya (1930).

– Pueblo  and Angelita. Auto sacramental (1930).

– Lope in silhouette (1935).

– The guerrilla (1936).

– Trasuntos de España (1938).

– Around José Hernández and Spaniards in Paris (1939).

Thinking of Spain (1940).

– Valencia (1941).

– Madrid. The generation and environment of ’98  (1941).

– The writer (1942).

– Cavilar and count. Tales (1942).

– Feeling Spain. Tales (1942).

– The Sick (1943).

– Savior of Olbena (1944).

– Paris (1945).

– Immemorial memories (1946).

– With Cervantes (1947).

– With the permission of the Cervantes (1948).

– With flag of France (1950).

Second half of the 20th century

– The oasis of the classics (1952).

– The cinema and the moment (1953).

– Paint as you want (1954).

– The past (1955).

– Writers (1956).

– Said and Done (1957).

– The island without aurora (1958).

– Agenda (1959).

– Steps left (1959).

– From Valera to Miró (1959).

– Spanish exercises (1960).

– Postscript (1961).

– Several men and a woman (1962).

– History and life (1962).

– In the distance (1963).

– The boxes (1963).

– Clear Spain (1966).

– The Doctors (1966).

– Neither yes nor no (1966).

– Theater of Azorín (1966).

– Groceries (1966).

– The beloved Spain (1967).

Works published after his death

– Time and landscape. Vision of Spain (1968).

– The artist and style (1969).

– What happened once (1970).

– Times and things (1971).

– Forgotten articles by J. Martínez Ruiz (1972).

– The inactual gentleman (1972).

– Rosalía de Castro and other Galician reasons (1973).

– Everything in its place (1974).

– And it could be so (1974).

– The Terceras of ABC (1976).

– Yecla and his men in my memory (1979).

– Politics and literature (1980).

– The hour of the pen: journalism of the dictatorship and the republic (1987).

– Azorín-Unamuno: letters and complementary writings (1990).

– Fabia Linde and other stories (1992).

– Anarchist Articles (1992).

– Saavedra Fajardo (1993).

– Echoes of time: short texts (1993).

– Judit: modern tragedy (1993).

– Selected pages (1995).

– Cinematographer: articles on cinema and movie scripts (1921-1964) (1995).

– The North Americans (1999).

– Tales and memories (2000).

Twentieth century

– The ivory ball: stories (2002).

– Andalusia: five critical glances and a digression (2003).

– What King Gaspar Wears: Christmas Tales (2003).

– The good Sancho (2004).


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