Manuel Curros Enríquez

Category: Writer
Birth Date: 15th September 1851 (†7th March 1908)
Birth Place: Celanova (Ourense)

Curros was one of the ten children of Xosé María Curros and Petra Enríquez. Because of the harsh behaviour of his father, Curros left home when he was fifteen years old. He went to Ourense and then to Madrid. There he was protected by Modesto Fernández y González. In Madrid he completed his intellectual, literary and ideological education. He went to London into exile about the year 1870 because of a political writing. Back to Madrid again, he founded in 1875 the Galician Literary Society together with Vesteiro Torres. That same year he worked as a war correspondent in El Imparcial in the Basque Country. He was about to die because of an accident with a gun. After the war and recovered from this accident, he went back to Madrid and went on with his literary and journalist activity. In 1877, he won a poetry contest in Ourense. Because of this victory, the poet settled down in Galicia to devote himself to Galician literature. Because of some verses which the bishop of Ouense considered as critical towards religion, Curros was given a two years, four months and one day prison sentence and a fine of 250 pesetas. However, he was absolved by the Audience of A Coruña. Shortly after, he returned to Madrid and then emigrated to Cuba in 1894, where he lived the colonial independence being against the government of Madrid. He collaborated with the Cuban press until his death at the hospital of the Asturian Centre in the year 1908.

 Work & Activities

Between 1869 and 1877 the poet, who devoted himself to journalism written in Castilian language, published some compositions in El Heraldo Gallego, which was edited in Ourense by Lamas Carvajal. However, he became an established poet with the publication of the work Aires da miña terra (Ourense, 1880). The first edition, which consisted of twenty-one poems apart from the three that were prized in the contest in 1877, was added some later compositions. In 1981, the Galician Academy published a facsimile edition of Aires da miña terra, which was the same as the original edition of 1880. In the poem, which introduces this book, Curros says that the situation of the Galician language is a consequence of oppression and commits himself to defend this language. Due to the publication of Aires da miña terra, Curros was excommunated. He openly attacked the social attitude of the Church and his anticlericalism is not only a personal reaction but also a principle of his ideology. Curros wrote A Virxe do Cristal in 1877 for a contest in Ourense. It is a long poem over a thousand verses that tells a story that gave rise to a popular devotion which is still popular nowadays. We can say that it is a popular composition of local customs and manners. This kind of poetry would also be reflected in his poems titled O gaiteiro, Unha boda en Einibó and O Maio. In 1888 the book O divino sainete was published in A Coruña. It was considered by Curros himself the best of all his books. It is a free parody of the Divine Comedy by Dante where he uses the satire by means of an expressive language, sarcastic humour and caricature of the characters. Although Curros did not feel like expressing his own feelings, there are moments that his poetry reflects his own emotions and reactions. That happens with a series of family-theme compositions: Ben chegado, which celebrates the birth of his first child and the elegies ¡Ai!, which shows his sadness because of his son's death and Na morte da miña nai, which is the longest intimate poem by Curros. These personal feelings are also expressed in other poems like Tempro deserto, Sola and A Rosalía. These poems have not a family theme, though. As far as prose is concerned, Curros wrote only two short texts, a preface to Aturuxos by R. Armada Teixeiro and notes in Aires for the poems A Virxe do Cristal, Cántiga and Tempro deserto. Although most of Curros' production is written in Galician language, we have to bear in mind some works written in Castilian language such as Sátira en verso contra la Constitución de 1879, El dos de mayo de 1808. Loa original y en verso (Madrid, 1874), El maestre de Santiago (1874), Paniagua y compañía. Agencia de sangre (A Coruña, 1878), El Padre Feijoo (Ourense, 1880), El último papel, which was published in the magazine Galicia in the years 1892 and 1893, La Condesita (1893), Eduardo Chao (La Havana, 1893) and several translations of Portuguese poems that were published in different newspapers.

 Other Interesting Aspects

The Galician Academy dedicated him ?O Día das Letras Galegas? (The Day of the Galcian Letters) in 1967.