Jacinto Benavente (1866-1954), the son of a well-known pediatrician, was born in Madrid. He studied law, but when his father died and left him with a comfortable income, he abandoned his studies and travelled widely in France, England, and Russia. On his return to Spain he edited, and contributed to, several newspapers and journals. He published a collection of poems (1893) and achieved some fame with Cartas de mujeres (1892-93) [Women’s Letters], a series of women’s letters, which was followed by another series in 1902. These letters gave Benavente a reputation as a brilliant stylist. His career as a dramatist began in 1892 with a collection of plays under the title «The Fantastic Theatre», but his first successes were El nido ajeno (1894) [Another’s Nest] and Gente conocida (1896) [High Society], a satire of Madrid society. Benavente’s plays deal with all strata of life; they are both serious and comic, realistic and fantastic, but it is chiefly as a writer of comedies of manners and of one-act farces that he made his name. His comedies usually take place in Madrid or in Moraleda, an imaginary provincial town in Castile. Whereas in his earlier plays Benavente had been chiefly interested in giving a faithful portrait of society, his later works show an increasing concern for a tight dramatic structure.
Benavente is best known for such plays as La Gobernadora (1901) [The Governor’s Wife], Rosas de otoño (1905) [Autumnal Roses], and particularly Señora ama ( 1908) [The Lady of the House] and La Malquerida (1913) [The Wrongly Loved], two psychological dramas which take place in a rural atmosphere. Los intereses creados (1907) [The Bonds of Interest] has repeatedly been called Benavente’s masterpiece, and it is certainly, of all his plays, the one that has most often been seen on the stage. A note of ironic resignation marks the delicate allegory of this play, the thesis of which affirms the necessity of evil. Mention should also be made of the play Hijos, padres de sus padres [Sons, Fathers of Their Parents], which appeared in the year of Benavente’s death. His collected plays were published in ten volumes between the years 1941 and 1955.
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
Jacinto Benavente died on July 14, 1954.
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