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Part One: the life of a student in Madrid

In this first part shows the process of spiritual and intellectual formation of Andrew. Occupies almost all the university stage of the protagonist. We know the family members: Don Pedro, his father, whom he despised for tyrannical and hypocritical, Alexander's older brother, who also despised by playboy and parasite, Peter, who feels some sympathy, Margarita, anodyne , resigned, good, Luisito, the younger brother, weak and sickly, which has compassion.

During these years he met friends disparate: Lamela, Julio Aracil, Montaner, Ibarra. Andrés evolve psychologically and intellectually. His first readings are novels, but little by little deeper into the philosophy.

Life, the illness of his brother, his time in the hospital San Juan de Dios (the cruelty of physicians and patients dealing with) and his reading of Schopenhauer, it will become increasingly pessimistic. Mood begins to abandon its assets, it becomes sad and increasingly less hope of being able to change human nature.

Went to work as an intern in a hospital. There he realizes that he has more vocation medical psychologist. Describe the atmosphere of corruption prevailing in the hospital.

Part Two: the carnaria

Andrew knows the Minglanilla (Dona Leonarda, Nini and Lulu). Engages a certain friendship with Lulu.

One night, Andrew and some friends, made a tour of some places in Madrid: the home of Mrs. Virginia, abortion and madam, that of Villasuso, author of dramas, an old fashioned romantic who has failed to provide a decent life for their daughters Pure and Ernestina. We are introduced to Dona Venancia, near Lulu, and her son Manolo the Chafandín, a drunk and lazy Cave. He describes the strange inhabitants of the house of Lulu: Don Cleto, the Black, the Maestrino, Don Martin ...

In the last chapter of this part there is a conversation between Andrew and his uncle Iturrioz. Andrew wants to discuss with the philosophical interpretation of the residents of the house of Lulu. The aspects discussed can be summarized as follows:

Iturrioz considers all these lives, making a parallel with theories of the struggle for the life of Darwin: Life is a constant struggle that we're eating each other.

Andrew believes that the struggle for life is applicable to the animal kingdom, not resigned and lame men.

Iturrioz adds that human behavior is a reflection of the animal, and there are many ways to fight and thrive in human life, for example, the case of Uncle miseries (the oppressor), would be in correspondence Zoological a parasite that survives by feeding on others.

Andrew replies that we differ from animals in the ability to have feelings, for example, justice.

Iturrioz concludes with the idea that justice does not exist, it is a human invention, like so many artificial inventions that man has created. The human world is animal and both share the same laws: birth, growth, reproduction and death.

From the roof in keeping this conversation there is a school and a convent of friars. Symbolize two attitudes in life: life (the school) and artificial (unnatural voluntary recollection of the convent).

This part ends with Andrés wondering which way, what attitude to take in life. He is sensitive and intelligent, and not ready to take on the role ofhunter, knows no function in that environment: life.

Part Three: sadness and pain

This part begins with the final year of Andrew. Luisito worse. Andrew travels to Valencia to find a house that Luisito can spend some time and improve with the pure air of the area, seems to have tuberculosis. Finish the race and goes to Valencia. He lives there quietly for a while, taking care of her brother and enjoying nature.

Andrew's father can not financially support two homes, Andrew, Margaret and Luisito, they go to live with relatives Valencia capital. Andrés looking for work is not easy, and decides to do a PhD. Winters in Valencia.

Return to Madrid and read the thesis. Two months later he moved to Burgos to replace a doctor. There goes the placid days of his life, serene, no existential concerns. Receives news that his brother is dead. Following the death of his brother suffers a further evolution from suffering pessimistic before the new nihilistic indifference.

Part Four: Inquisition

Back to Madrid. Meeting with Ibarra, has improved, he studied engineering and inventor.

Further discussions with his uncle Iturrioz:

Andrew wants a full explanation of the origin and existence of the world, an explanation that combines physical and moral cosmology and biology.

Iturrioz advised to read the French philosophers and English, more practical and less metaphysical than the Germans, which seems to be greatly influenced.

Andrés insists the theories of the Germans, in Kant, for whom time and space do not exist, only the result of our intelligence, outside of human consciousness have no existence.

Wielding his empiricist ideas Andrés: foreign experience is not a truth, our senses can deceive no absolute truths exist, everything is relative. Only science, the laws of causality, it gives some meaning to life. Really, what we mean by it, is the unanimous agreement of all intelligences.

Andrew talks about the TREE OF SCIENCE gives an improving trend that "kills." The tree of life has, however, ignorance, faith, fiction, superstition ... but all that is "healthy" life.

Iturrioz a critique of rationalism, science and the materialistic way of life have left the world devoid of illusion and mystery. So believes a new Society of Jesus 1 would do better, instilling values such as the serenity and courage, without sentimentality or sadness Judeo-Christian.

Part Five: experience in town

Andrés Alcolea march, village of La Mancha, as a physician owner. They are staying at an inn and meets Juan Sanchez, the town doctor, and the town clerk. The town is very hot. Spend the summer. Arriving in September left the inn and goes like a house guest of the people.

Dorothea, the landlady, is beautiful, and her husband, pickles, a taciturn. Andrés cure the miller's daughter, that would create enmity with Sanchez, but is gaining prestige as a physician among the people. Hurtado observes and describes the life and character of the people, his willingness antisocial, chieftaincy, individualism, lack of concerns ... Behold this way of life, the resigned attitude, delayed and uncritical of these people, and growing, to the disappointment his nihilism2. Concludes that it is better to stop thinking, and she decided to see how life goes.

Alcolea happens in winter. Begins to frequent the casino and met the pianist and Don Blas Carreño, wealthy gentleman. By quirky characters that Andrew feels sympathy. Don Blas live far from the truth and stay in the language and way of life of Cervantes. But Andrew begins to get bored and despair among the people. In an attempt to distract intends to write, change the philosophical readings of literature and history ... but it is poisoned by the philosophy and nothing motivates him.

Find new ways of life to leave the state of disappointment in which it is. So, think you should marry, but is not willing to sacrifice their independence. Then decide to change your eating and lifestyle habits, and improvement. Enters a sort of ataraxia 3 and is relaxed. But every time antipathy shown by the townspeople and is reciprocated. Alcolea still feel more marginalized than in Madrid.

In the spring calls for the resignation and leaves. The night before his departure makes love with Dorothy. Andrés feel entitled to commit this act, the cuckolded husband is a miserable fool who does not deserve his wife. Back to Madrid to Aranjuez and spend three days there. Is baffled by her attitude.

Part Six: Madrid experience

Back in Madrid comes to war with Cuba and the Philippines. Andrew gets a replacement of three months. Before the war, notes the opening of Spanish patriotism, chattering excitedly. After the disaster the world still lives with total indifference to what happened.

Iturrioz visits his uncle and has another conversation with him in which he speaks of Alcolea and resigned spirit of the poor. Iturrioz launches Nietzschean thesis that the slave is a slave spirit, cowardice of the poor is what prevents you from moving forward, evolve and get free from its fetters.

Rediscover Montaner, is unemployed, and Julio, who is doing very well in life, he has thrived thanks to their lack of scruples. Also see Ibarra, wants to go abroad to patent their inventions. Spain is a country that supports or believes in progress. Lulu Reunion also has managed to open a store by marriage of his sister Nini concerned with a sugar daddy.

Andrew gets a job as a doctor of Hygiene. It is becoming more antisocial. Scorns equally to rich and poor: one for operators and others to be exploited resignedly.

Leaves the job because dealing with prostitutes, pimps and love the increasingly depressed. Lulu continues to visit and get a job as a doctor in La Esperanza assisting poor. Dealing with the poor, ignorance, misery and resignation absurd, make it more bitter and aggressive character.

In one of his visits to old acquaintances lies Villasuso gone mad and live in abject poverty. Days later he dies and his friends wake bohemian poets behave like him a pathetic and surreal assuming that the deceased suffered catalepsy 4.

Increasingly frequent Lulu. He states, without passion, like almost everything you do in life.

Part Seven: the experience of the child.

In another of his talks with Iturrioz, Andrew, very sensitive on the issue of genetic inheritance, he raises his uncle the problem that would cause the fact that two people marry and procreate weak.

Make the decision to marry Lulu. Get a job as a translator of medical books, and away from the humane treatment of patients. Enters a period of peace and quiet. Another ataraxia.

All goes well until it starts to get depressed at Lulu's refusal to have children Andrés. Andrew gave, and his wife get pregnant again the old fears. Afraid to open that window into the abyss that makes you dizzy. He had managed an organized life, quiet, dull, and fears that the responsibility that comes with that child to wake up all the ghosts that had managed to sleep with so much effort. Start taking morphine for not thinking.

At birth the child died a few days and Lulu. The day of the funeral Andrew suicidal poisoning.

The book ends with the reflection Iturrioz. Andrew died without pain, not driven by suicidal despair, nor for the suffering of losing loved ones. Is nihilism. It was a misfit for life and it offered a cozy little hole with the marriage of Lulu. The disappearance Lulu does not know what to do, in the absence of it would probably have committed suicide before. In reality it was always dead. His excessive consciousness prevented her from enjoying life.


At first we found a rambling structure, appear intermingled characters, stories, situations, places ... that make it difficult to organize the work.

But this is at first sight, deep inside there is a very coherent structure in the novel, and is the figure of the protagonist, present in all chapters, and psychological development, which confer unity to the work.

External structure

53 chapters divided into 7 parts.

Internal Structure

We propose the following:

Part (I and II). Andres formation stage.

He knows his main friends, Aracil, Montaner ... It's been the experience of the illness of his brother, has met Lulu. He ends this part with the race finished and considering the position to be taken in life (school or convent).

Second part (III). From pessimism to nihilism.

With the illness and death of Luisito questions and reflections to be raised at the beginning continue to develop in this part, leading to increased pessimism and confusion.

In the figure of his younger brother, sensitive, intelligent, and his friend Choriset, savage and primitive, Andrés strengthens its Darwinian theories applied to the human world: the strong survive.

In this part Andrés feel uncertainty, boredom and confusion. Here shows the evolution of his personality: the pessimism goes by nihilism.

Third (IV). Intermediate reflective.

Philosophical treatises with his uncle Iturrioz: the tree of knowledge kills, because it symbolizes the truth and, therefore, the suffering, the tree of life is healthy, because it symbolizes the useful lie.

Intelligence and science are decadent beings themselves, because they kill. Iturrioz sides with life, biologically useful lie, Andrés for truth and science.

This problem has a contrast racial background: Semitism, which represents the interest lies.

Quarter (V and VI). New experiences.

Medical Alcolea. Presents the idiosyncrasies of the people, lack of solidarity, stupidity, caciquismo ... First sexual experience.

Return to Madrid. Lulu and reunion with old friends: Aracil, Montaner, Ibarra, Villasuso ...

War in Cuba. Pessimism grows.

Fifth (VII). Outcome.

Married. Killed his wife, his son and himself.


Baroja describes the main characters through developments in the course of the novel are suffering their character and ideas. In contrast, the secondary characters are described from the time of submission.


Undisputed protagonist of the novel. Is present in the 53 chapters of the book.

Begins to form intellectually with the support of heterogeneous knowledge, in your library are: treated in Medicine and Biology, novels, A History of the French Revolution ...

Already in his student days he realizes that he cared more about ideas and feelings of patients that the symptoms of the disease.

The rash with Republican ideas, but really know their political leanings. Not opted for any class, despised both rich and poor, the defects of both. He believes in classes of people, and shows a constant trend in aristocratic contempt for the vulgarity.

He is a man of action who encounters a large mass ignorant, cowardly and resigned, unable to change the injustices of life. This, coupled with his rebellious and critical spirit embittered him and make it a pessimistic man.

Andrew is cold love, no passion for anything in life, only to unravel the logic that drives it and the mysteries involved. In the absence of metaphysical answers and disappointment by human behavior ends sinking into an existential angst that lead to suicide.

Physically we know nothing of him, Baron seems to focus all our attention on the psychological aspect.

Why a man of action?

Despite his pessimism and skepticism. Andrew demonstrates throughout the novel as a man of action. Shows a critical and rebellious spirit. Struggle, when you have time, against hypocrisy, cruelty and cowardice. Thus:

He opposes the lifestyle of his father and unjust and tyrannical character.

Medical insults the San Juan de Dios hospital for his cruelty and mistreatment inflicted on the sick.

Imposed on the director of a newspaper, which had gone on a spree, because being at home Villasuso mocked him and he spent stupid jokes and bad taste.

Lulu defends against Manolo making the Chafandín with a chair, Aracil, who is with him, it shrinks.

Alcolea defending the truth and tries to do justice to the Garrota uncle, whom the people accused of murder without proof.

Julio Aracil

Andrew's friend, co-race, a Semitic type. Realistic, materialistic, pragmatic. Smarter than smart. An adapted to life in which, thanks to its lack of scruples, get thrive and live comfortably. Physically he is brown and bulging eyes.


Blond, blue eyes, rather than Semitic type of Iberian. Monarchist, a supporter of the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy. At first ideological clashes with Andrew, but eventually come to have some complicity. Andrew engages some friends with him, discuss politics, literature and music, but likes it because it shows you have ideas.

Fermin Ibarra

Sick of arthritis. Little is known about him. Healing ends and surprises with his skills as an inventor. He goes to Belgium to patent their inventions in the absence of Spanish initiative to invest in new projects.

Rafael Sanudo

Engineering student. Wagnerian.

Antonio Lamela

Older student. Andrew made his friend because they both had an inner life different from other students. Romantic and quixotic, with his idealism distorts reality to the point of seeing his beloved ugly as a beautiful lady. At the same time is fun-loving and often drunk, but far from being contradicted by their extreme attitudes, he says he practices a practical idealism, his motto was there to give the body what the body and the soul that is soul.


Professor Andrew. Publish a book that makes an application of mathematics to biology. At first Andrew becomes a follower of his theories, but ends up realizing that their talk has no scientific rigor.


Not very graceful but funny, sarcastic humor and some acid. It's smart, neurotic, pessimistic and a little something in it for since birth showed little strange attitudes. It is not conventional and not very feminine for her courage and wit seems different from other women, hence Andrew likes to talk with her, but, as married women succumb to the instinct of wanting to be a mother.

Dona Leonarda and Nini

Lulu's mother and sister. Coming less and unable to accept the reality of their poverty. Live the story and only aspire to a marriage of convenience for the kick Nini state of misery in which they live.


Poet, playwright. Their romance and bohemian lifestyle you are infertile because Andrew is an active attitude towards life and enable him to live decently. He died insane and penniless.


It is not characterized as a character in the play. It is rather a pretext of the author, a kind of intellect in the service of intellect Andrés antagonist for it to discuss scientific and philosophical theses. Andrew died, leaving only a lucid intelligence to interpret the true causes of death of the protagonist and to close the novel: Iturrioz.


Dorotea. The patron saint of Alcolea. Good, beautiful, resigned to convention, but not buried in them: he knows to take the opportunity that gives Andrew the night before his departure.

Pepinito. Husband of Dorothy. Vulgar, taciturn, wild.

Don Juan Sanchez. Medical Alcolea. Hypocritical and bad person. Only aspires to have customers and prestige even over professional ethics.

Don Blas Carreño and Pianist. The first gentleman off in Alcolea, and second, his friend. Are a couple nice and extravagant. They communicate with the language of Cervantes and live oblivious to reality.

The Choriset. Luisito Friendly games during his stay in Valencia. To be insensitive, savage and very healthy physically, it represents the antithesis of Luisito. This child seems to have settled and under the shade of the tree of life. Their appearance, like so many characters in the work is temporary, but significant for the thesis of the main character, toughness and insensitivity do a perfectly tailored to the life that will undoubtedly dominate.

Between Lulu neighborhood we can highlight some characters like:

Doña Venancia. Encarna resignation and sacrifices of the poor. Assumes its social condition with no hope of improvement, like a genetic inheritance. He gives all, no waiting. A so Andrew told him we found the world and leave it.

Black's aunt. Alcohol and Republican.

Doña Pitusa. Begging, was fond of spirits, and lived with his son, chop, funeral home worker, vindictive and spiteful.

La Paca. Gallega, owner of a guesthouse.

Don Cleto. The philosopher of the neighborhood. Rundown, but cultured and educated. Emphasizes his stoic nature.

The Maestrino. Manchego, lives in a drugstore., Pedantic and Sabiondo.

Uncle miseries. The nickname comes from his job as a loan shark. Is a mean, dark character.


The action takes place in about ten years. Perhaps Andrew died when he was 28 years or so.

Part. It develops most of the race Andrew: first course, summer, second year, summer, third year, summer, half of the fourth grade.

Part II. Vague references to time (the Carnival). We assume that finishes fourth track, although no mention is made final exams.

Third. Start with the final year. He graduated in June. Is preparing a doctoral thesis. Under review in May and read doctoral thesis. Up to Burgos where he remained two months. Thirteen months ago.

Quarter. Spend a summer in Madrid.

Fifth. A year in Alcolea.

Sixth. Spend a year or so: three months replacing a doctor, early fall, it's summer.

Seventh. Takes place in one year and nine months. This part begins with the wedding of Andrew and Lulu married a year become pregnant. The baby dies in childbirth, Lulu and Andrew three days after the next day.


First and second part: Madrid, college, bars, clubs, houses of neighbors ...

Part Three: Valencia. Back to Madrid to read the thesis. Two months as a substitute in a town of Burgos.

Part IV: Back from Burgos to Madrid.

Part Five: Alcolea (La Mancha). Three days in Aranjuez.

Sixth and seventh parts: Madrid.


The novel highlights the discomfort of the period and, in particular, the ideology of the generation of 98 to which he belonged Baroja. Thus:

Critical to the low cultural environment that existed at the time (grotesque atmosphere among students, lack of seriousness and rigor among teachers ...) and the limited interest of the government to invest in science (Ibarra has to go to Belgium to patent their inventions. Nor In Spain there are laboratories of Physiology for medical students to do internships).

Criticism of human cruelty, piety was not in the world, thought Andrew.

Students in the dissection class ruthlessly abusing corpses.

Doña Virginia, abortion, operates and sells women.

The doctor of San Juan de Dios mistreats patients.

Dorothea Compassion to the machismo of her husband.

Contempt for bullfighting. The viewer of the runs has a moral coward because it requires the value of others.

Criticism of the vulgar, the spiritual poverty in all its facets to prevent getting a decent life: Doña Venancia, Manolo the Chafandín, Mrs. Virginia, friends who mock the folly of Villasuso ...

Criticism of the individualistic nature Spanish. Associations and prevents us unsympathetic and jealous, destruction of Alcolea, competition among medical ...

Criticism of the sexual repression of the culture of the time. Causes the appearance of a dirty pornography and illegal, distasteful, the opposite of what happens in England, where the sex naturally manifests itself in higher quality erotic magazines.

Review of patriotism. Critique of the false patriotism that show the Spanish in their attitude to the war in Cuba: hollow patriotism and exalted at the beginning of the war and neglect and indifference when they lost the colonies. But on the other hand, it allowed the work to Spain because the criticism itself, no argument in the train journey to Alcolea a passenger complains about the inability of the Spanish because the station made a mistake give a ticket to the second and not first as he wanted. The traveler rants of Spain that regarded uncivilized and uneducated about Europe and America. Another traveler shut it decisively. Andrew welcomed inside this intervention.

Criticism of bohemia and the sterile romanticism. They are but self-centered attitudes that give back to reality, inactive and devoid of commitment. Perhaps the best example of the work is for Villasuso: your life miserable, the inability to raise their children decently, its pathetic viewing ...

Criticism of the poor who are left assuming exploit the spirit of slaves. In their ignorance and unconsciousness by lack of means to procreate offspring, fertility can not be a social ideal. Do not need quantity but the quality or perpetuate pain in the world seems a crime.

The racial issue is present in the background of the work. The attitude and spirit of many characters are played from a racial standpoint that entails a moral attitude. Thus, although Iturrioz who does the classification into two human types, which Andrew will apply throughout the novel to explain the behavior of some characters.

Iturrioz spoke of the Iberian type of Semitic type:Iberian type assigned to the doctor the strong and warlike qualities of the breed, the type of prey Semitic tendencies, intrigue and trade.

Andrés thus considered as a kind Aracil Semitic, was a true Phoenician, and Montaner Over the Iberian Semitic type, also the father Juan was within this group.

But the race issue will offer an even broader interpretation: Semitism has led to the Judeo-Christian religion with their impostors has dominated the world, is a religion that exalts human frailty, but the scientific mind of men in Northern Europe sweep the Semitic character.

Lulu also says: We have Semitic blood. In this ferment unhealthy, complicated by our poverty, our ignorance and our vanity, all the ills.

There is usually a very Nietzschean critique in which he praises the man of action. Andrew Contempt is directed toward all those who are not and will not have to be: the rich because they live off in place, the poor for not fighting to stop being the idealists and poets for its comic and ridiculous heroism making them socially inactive.

Novel noventayochista

We are, above all, compared to a philosophical novel. Existential conflicts are the focus of the work. Spain, the existential problems and analysis and reflection of intra are the pillars of the novel and the essay noventayochistas. This work is one of the most representative of Generation. The three themes appear sufficiently reflected.

Spain. Criticism of the above, released by Andrew to institutions, culture and Spanish character, merely to highlight the concern felt by Spain's Generation 98. Spain was ill and to combat the disease must first be diagnosed, although it is necessary to shake the sick, only then can evil be eradicated.

The inside story. Reflected in this gallery of minor characters (housewives, prostitutes, shopkeepers, clerks, teachers, students, farmers ...) in the idiosyncrasies of rural and urban life (liberals, conservatives, debates, classes ...). They are, in the case of this novel, essential and inseparable from criticism of Spain, the cause and object of study of that disease to which we referred earlier.

As for the existential aspect could say that is the core argument of the work, to the theme of Spain seems to revolve around him, and all turn around the protagonist, Andrés Hurtado. Andrew tries to make sense of their existence in religion, science, philosophy, love ... but none of this is happiness, even peace, the most you get is a state of ataraxia in two or three times of his life. Thus:

Religion. Not even believe in the usefulness of the faith, considered dangerous because it opens a door to arbitrariness. Join the ideas of Kant that the tenets of religion are unprovable.

Science. Nor does it provide a solution to the meaning of life, on the contrary, science and knowledge exacerbate human suffering. Darwin's theories also put his note of pessimism, because the solution offered is the struggle for life, in which the winners are the strongest. Life presents Andrew as a vicious fight in which the most instinctive, most primitive, devouring. and defeat the weak, the sensitive like him.

Philosophy. Also drag it to the blues. Science offered a description of the facts, philosophy only rational explanation of them.

Like many characters noventayochistas, Andrés shown in the course of the play action the dichotomy of man / man of no action.

At first it shows combative, active, showing a strong influence of Nietzsche, and adopts anti-Christian positions, anti-Semitic, stoic ... but as it is sinking and increases their disappointment in him we see the influence of Schopenhauer, and becomes a being that is inactive abandons life, and leave only recovers strength.

The two currents of irrationalism German, so important in the thinking of 98, Vitalism and pessimism, there are symbolized by the figure of Andrew, it, alter ego of Baroja, happens to be a man of action (Nietzsche-Vitalism) the No Action (Schopenhauer-Pessimism)

Kant is perhaps the philosopher who is more present in the talks with his uncle, but unlike the former it is more metaphysical, with the empiricists make you understand the relativity of life and its truths, but all the abstraction of these theories is what makes them less painful, sometimes make you dizzy metaphysician, but no real and continuous suffering that let's thoughts on human theories of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.

Love. Experienced as a frustrating, cold, free from passion. Love leads to marriage, and this child, responsibilities, loss of physical independence and spiritual. His scientific and analytical mind makes him described as the confluence of fetishistic instincts and sexual instincts. For him, the man has covered the desire for procreation with poetic lie called love, love is a hoax.

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