Mariano Azuela: Biography, Style, Works And Phrases

Mariano Azuela González (1873-1952) was a Mexican writer and physician. His performance as an author allowed him to be listed as the creator of literature at the time of the revolution in his country. As for his work as a doctor, he worked in one of the camps of the hero Pancho Villa.

Azuela’s work was characterized by being framed within the events of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. In addition, its features were traditional and costumbristas. The writer’s literature was also crude and sometimes ironic, without ceasing to be a social denunciation.

One of the most important and well-known works of the author was  Los debajo, which reflected the class struggle in revolutionary times. Mariano Azuela focused his work on the production of the novel genre. Other titles of interest were: Failed, Bad Yerba and New Bourgeoisie.


Birth of Azuela

Mariano Azuela González was born on January 1, 1873, in the city of Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco. Although data on the author’s family are scarce, it is known that he came from a middle class family. Perhaps they were dedicated to the land, because he spent some time on a farm.


Mariano Azuela’s first years of education were spent in his hometown. Later he studied at the Miguel Leandro Guerra High School. He then went to Guadalajara, intending to enter the seminary to become a priest, but he studied medicine, graduating in 1899.

Marriage of Azuela

After he obtained his medical degree, he moved back to Lagos de Moreno, where he did his first medical jobs, and dabbled in politics. In 1900 he married Carmen Rivera Torre; the couple was prolific, conceiving ten children.

First post

Azuela’s contact with literature began when he was still a young man. From an early age he managed to interact with writers from Jalisco and also wrote stories for newspapers such as Gil Blas Cómico. However, its first official publication was María Luisa, in 1907.

Works in revolution

Mariano Azuela developed a good part of his work during the last years of the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, of whom he was also an opponent. This meant that some of his writings occurred at the height of the Mexican Revolution. Some titles from that time were  Los fracasados and Mala yerba, among others.

In 1911 the work Andrés Pérez, maderista, came to light , which referred in part to the political events initiated by Francisco Madero, against the Porfiriato. Also, at that time he was in charge of the government direction of his native Lagos de Moreno, and later of the education office.

Azuela as a doctor during the Mexican Revolution

Azuela resigned from her political work in Jalisco, following threats from indigenous leaders. Later he worked as a doctor within the ranks of the military man Julián Medina, and in favor of Pancho Villa. Furthermore, in 1914, Medina himself assigned him as head of Public Instruction.

Time in exile

Mariano Azuela lived for a time outside his country, specifically in Texas, when Venustiano Carranza’s troops defeated Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. During that time, in 1915, he developed his masterpiece: Los debajo, which was first published in the newspaper El Paso del Norte.

In 1916, the writer settled in the Mexican capital with his family, while Los debajo was published as an independent text. Azuela resumed his life and continued with the development of his literary work and his medical profession.

Revolutionary material

The Mexican writer added to his talent for letters his perceptual and critical capacity, as well as being able to take literary advantage of the social and political events that took place in Mexico between 1910 and 1920. He produced works such as  Los caciques, Las moscas and Las tribulations from a decent family.

Last years of life and death

Mariano Azuela dedicated the last years of his life to literature, medicine and the cultural and historical promotion of Mexico. Between the 1940s and 1950s, he published works such as the  New Bourgeoisie, The Taming of the Woman and Lost Paths.

He participated in the creation of the National College and the Seminary of Mexican Culture. In 1949 his literary work was recognized with the National Prize for Arts and Sciences. Two years after receiving the award, he died in Mexico City, on March 1, 1952. His remains rest in the Rotunda of Illustrious Persons.


Mariano Azuela’s literary style was framed within the so-called literature of the Mexican Revolution, which meant that it was political and social in nature. The writer made use of a clear and direct language, loaded with criticism and a certain satire.

In some of his works there was a reflection of his experiences as a doctor. In addition, he focused many of his writings towards social denunciation, in defense of the least favored. On the other hand, Azuela developed a narrative of a traditional and traditional nature.


It is important to note that Mariano Azuela’s literary work focused on the development of the novel, characterized by truth. There was in the literature of the Mexican writer the need to expose the historical facts of Mexico where he lived, with clarity, criticism, irony and reflection, without ceasing to be human and at the same time scientific.


– María Luisa (1907).

– The losers (1908).

– The house (1908).

– The wheel of air (1908).

– The achievers (1909).

– Bad yerba (1909).

– Andrés Pérez, maderista (1911).

– Without love (1912).

– Those below (1916).

– The caciques (1917).

– The flies (1918).

– The tribulations of a decent family (1918).

– La malhora (1923).

– The revenge (1925).

– The firefly (1932).

– Child (1939).

– Advanced (1940).

– New bourgeoisie (1941).

– Father Don Agustín Rivera (1942).

– The dealer (1944).

– The tamed woman (1946).

– Lost paths (1949).

– The curse (Posthumous edition, 1955).

– That blood (Posthumous edition, 1956).

Brief description of some of his most significant novels

Maria Luisa (1907)

It was the first novel written by Azuela, oriented towards naturalism born in France; that is, there was a description of reality in it. She told the story of a prostitute, which gives the name to the work, and all the moral, as well as physical, hardships that this trade led her to live.

In the novel, Mariano Azuela also reflected his life as a student and professional of medicine. And it was thanks to the different experiences that he lived during his practice as a doctor in the Mexican territory that his literary work was nourished with content and gained weight.


“One fine day he comes across his first clinical case. His first big clinical case. María Luisa crosses over to science. Who is María Luisa?… The student never knew. Sixteen-year-old girl, black eyes, heartbreaking sweetness, a small mouth folded into a graceful grimace … poor human wreck on a very poor hospital bed …

The next day the bed was unoccupied and on the zinc plate of the amphitheater the thin and naked body. A professor explained the pathological anatomy of pulmonary tuberculosis ”.

The losers (1908)

This work was the second novel by Mariano Azuela, which reflected the decline of Mexican society before the policies of Porfirio Díaz. In addition, he made reference to anti-values, expressed in a reflexive way through religious fanaticism, lack of understanding towards others and illicit enrichment.

Andrés Pérez, Maderista (1911)

With this novel, the Mexican writer paved the way for the literature of the Mexican Revolution. Azuela reflected his criticism against the revolutionary process, and also expressed with disdain and irony the actions of Porfirio Díaz and his followers.

The Underdogs (1916)

It was one of the most important and well-known novels of the Mexican writer. It was related to the differences that, at the time of the Mexican Revolution, existed between the rich and the poor, the studied and the illiterate, or between the powerful and the unprotected. It was a work of a social nature.


The story line was based on the participation of the peasant Demetrio Macías in the revolutionary events, after a confrontation he had with a cacique. Between the two there was a fight, which generated a conflict that was adding more participants, even when their ideals were not clear.

Mariano Azuela led the reader through a series of events in the Mexican Revolution, where the imaginary meets the historical reality. This is how the events that started the novel converged with the rivalry between Venustiano Carranza and Pancho Villa, as well as with changes in society.


The writer developed the novel from the point of view of an omniscient narrator. Although he is not a character, he knows and knows about all the facts of the story. He is an observer, he was in charge of exposing the actions from a neutral and objective point of view.


Azuela structured the novel in three parts. The first opened the main theme of the work, consisting of twenty-one chapters. The second focused on making known the reasons for the confrontation between the opponents, as well as the forces between the revolutionaries and the federals. This consisted of fourteen chapters.

Finally, the third part of the work was made up of seven chapters. In them, Mariano Azuela described the end of the different contests, as well as the results and the aftermath, both for the combatants and for society in general.


There were two main characters in Los debajo:

– Demetrio Macías, whose actions revolved around Victoriano Huerta. He made a tour of Mexico facing his enemies. Everything was going well until he reached a point where he lost interest in the battle: the spirit with which he started was dissipated by not knowing what he was really fighting for.

– Luis Cervantes, for his part, was a character with some autobiographical features. In addition to being a journalist, he joined Demetrio Macías’s fighting army. Finally, he left for North America to start a new life as an entrepreneur.


Demetrius awoke with a start, waded across the river and took the opposite side of the canyon. Like an ant, the crestería ascended … When he climbed the summit, the sun bathed the plateau in a lake of gold.

Huge sliced ​​rocks could be seen towards the ravine… Demetrio stopped at the top; He drew his right hand back, tugged at the horn that hung behind his back, brought it to his thick lips … blew on it. Three whistles answered the signal, beyond the border crest ”.

The Tribulations of a Decent Family (1918)

In the case of this narrative work, the author exposed the decadence and vicissitudes of the Mexican Revolution before the wealthy families of society. It was a story full of sarcasm and ironies, where the bourgeoisie hoped for social and political change.


– One Hundred Years of the Mexican Novel (1947).


– Pedro Moreno, the insurgent (1933-1944).

– Madero (1952).


– “I have wanted to fight for the holy cause of the unfortunate, but you do not understand me, you reject me. So do what you like with me! ”.

– “Rob the rich to make the poor rich! And the poor forge a legend for him that time will be in charge of beautifying so that he lives from generation to generation ”.

– “In my novels I exhibit virtues and flaws without palliative or exaltation, and with no other intention than to give with the greatest possible fidelity a faithful image of our people and of who we are.”

– “I love the revolution as I love the erupting volcano! To the volcano because it is a volcano; to the revolution because it is revolution! But the stones that remain above or below, after the cataclysm, what do they matter to me?

– “Times are bad and you have to take advantage of it, because ‘if there are days when the duck swims, there are days when it doesn’t even drink water.”

– “The I can ascends to your knowledge, and from that very moment it increases a hundredfold.”

– “The landscape clears, the sun appears in a scarlet band on the diaphanous sky”.

– “But the misery and meanness of these people is properly their reason for living.”

– “The theme of ‘I stole’, although it appears inexhaustible, is dying out when layouts of playing cards appear on each bench, which attract bosses and officials, like light to mosquitoes.”

– “I thought you would gladly accept the one who comes to offer you help, my poor help, but that only benefits yourselves … What do I gain from whether the revolution succeeds or not?”


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