The Dramatic Political Allegories of the Spanish Exile Félix Mexía Published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1826
|Author: ||Coscio, Elizabeth A.|
The fiery Spanish liberal journalist Félix Mexía authored two dramas not previously analyzed: No hay union con los tiranos morirá quien lo pretenda o sea la muerte de Riego y España entre cadenas and La Fayette en Monte Vernon. Their analysis provides an understanding of Mexía’s political exile in the United States, employing the context of their historical setting. The application of new Romantic theory to his works published during his American exile due to censorship reveals his hidden political allegory.
Political allegory mediated the return, not only to a chaotic nineteenth-century political period in Spain, but also to an idealized Spanish medieval felicity and to the heroic Greek and Roman Age by way of the American Revolution. Readers here have traditionally ignored the allegory by remaining on the historical surface of both plays. Mexía dedicated the first dramatic work as a historical tragedy to Guadalupe Victoria, the first president of Mexico, to elevate the martyr’s death of his Spanish hero, the revolutionary Rafael de Reigo y Nuñez, by detailing the final moments of Riego’s imprisonment. Writing La Fayette en Monte Vernon in the republican tradition of a Greco-Roman epic, Mexía refigured the Spanish guerilla fighter Francisco Javier Espoz y Mina as the patriot farmer George Washington. These dedications resulted from his denunciation of specific Spanish laws that shut down patriotic societies, disbanded the revolutionary national militia, and imprisoned popular heroes like Riego.
While Benito Pérez Galdós used Mexía as a fictional fanatical caricature of a whole generation of liberals in El terror de 1824 of the Episodios nacionales, Mexía himself anticipated that usage of his persona fifty years earlier in the nineteenth century by entering his own performances as a fictional friend to his historical protagonist heroes, Riego in one drama and La Fayette in the other drama. Both dramas feature a romantic first: an allegorized female as a political constitution. These readings make public Mexía’s political issues mediated through allegorical syntagmatic historical correspondences, referencing back to his own particular exile identity in neoclassic political discourse, thus qualifying the two dramas as part of a transnational revolutionary utopist genre, but not Romantic theatre.
“Dr. Elizabeth Coscio has written a very interesting and important work that helps us understand the transition between the XVIIIth and the XIXth centuries. That transition, which so often confuses scholars, is so opaque because the works in question evince a form that is clearly Neoclassical, but occasionally the meaning or content is Romantic. The other difficulty lies in the fact that Romanticism in Spain lasts a mere twenty to twenty-five years ... This [work] is a risky undertaking, and Dr. Coscio is to be commended for attempting it and illuminating that strange bit of literary history which Mexía embodies. His works may not be the most celebrated literary artifacts of his age, but they are a true reflection of an obscure period. Dr. Coscio is masterful in her analysis and I believe her work to be of great importance to scholars of the period ...” – (from the Foreword) Professor Rodolfo J. Cortina, University of Houston
“Dr. Elizabeth Coscio is to be commended for the rigor of her research and the eloquence of her style. This magnificent study fills a void in the Félix Mexía phenomena. The expressiveness of this book transcends the academic niche, making it accessible to anyone interested in history and politics.” – Rosemary Salum, Founder and Chief Editor, Literal: Latin American Voices
Table of Contents
Foreword by Rodolfo Cortina
1. Nineteenth-Century Hispanic Identity in Exile, Romantic Theory and the Case for Political Allegory
2. Establishing Exile Identity Status for Riego and La Fayette
3. Political Allegory in the Historical Tragedy Riego
4. Political Allegory: La Fayette en Monte Vernon