The tree of science by Pío Baroja

From Wikipedia:

Pío Baroja and Nessi (December 28, 1872 - October 30, 1956) was a Spanish Basque writer, one of the key novelists of the Generation of '98. He was a member of an illustrious family, one of his relatives was a painter and engraver, and his nephew Julio Caro Baroja was a well known anthropologist.

He was born in San Sebastian, Spain. Although educated as a physician, Baroja only practiced this trade briefly. As a matter of fact, he would use his student's memories - some of them he would consider terrible - as the raw material for his novel The Tree of Knowledge . I have also managed the family bakery for a short time and ran unsuccessfully on two occasions for the seat at the Cortes (Spanish parliament) as a Radical Republican. Baroja's true calling, however, was always writing, which I have seriously begun at the age of 13.

His first novel - The House of Aizgorri (The House of Aizgorri , 1900) - is part of a trilogy called The Basque Land (The Basque Country, 1900-1909). This trilogy also includes The Labrador Majority (The Lord of Labraz , 1903) which became one of his most popular novels in Spain. Struggle for Life , 1922-1924) which offers a vivid depiction of life in Madrid's slums. John Dos Passos greatly admired these works and wrote about them.

Another major work - Memories of a Man of Action , 1913-1931) - offers a depiction of one of his ancestors who lived in the Basque region during the Carlist uprising in the 19th century.

However, some believe his masterpiece to be The Tree of Knowledge (1911) (translated as The Tree of Knowledge) , a pessimistic Bildungsroman that depicts the futility of the pursuit of knowledge and of life in general. The title is ironically symbolic: The more the chief protagonist Andres Hurtado learns about and experiences life, the more pessimistic he feels and the more futile his life seems.

In keeping with Spanish literary tradition, Baroja often wrote in to pessimistic, picaresque style. His deft portrayal of the characters and settings brought the Basque region to life as Benito Pérez Galdós' works offered an insight into Madrid. Baroja's works were often lively, but could be lacking in plot and written in abrupt, vivid, yet impersonal style. Sometimes he is even accused of grammatical errors, which he never denied.

Baroja as a young man believed loosely in anarchistic ideals, the other members of the '98 Generation. However, later he would derive into simple admiration of men of action, somehow similar to Nietzsche's superman. His vitalistic vision of life -although pessimistic- led his novels, his ideas and his figure to be considered somehow a forerunner of a kind of Spanish fascism. In any case, he was not loved by Catholic and traditionalist ideologists and his life was at risk during the Civil War (1936-39).

Ernest Hemingway was greatly influenced by Baroja, although this is not fully appreciated by English-speaking critics.

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