lunes, 29 de septiembre de 2014

Angels & Vampires in XIX Century: Morality vs Sexuality




This connection between sexuality and morality clearly reflects contemporary concerns about the social threats posed by women's emancipation, and occurs throughout the nineteenth century. Jane Eyre appeared in 1847 but as early as 1814 the risqué elements of Lovers' Vows threatened the peace of Mansfield Park, and in 1897 Bertha Mason was reincarnated in Bram Stoker's horror fantasy Dracula.

During Jonathan Harker's stay at Castle Dracula he awakens to find himself surrounded by three young and beautiful women. The reader is painfully aware that these are vampires whose attentions imperil Harker's soul, but his damnation, like Rochester's is aided by his inability to resist sexual enticements;



"I lay quiet, … in an agony of delightful anticipation. The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath on me … The girl went on her knees and bent over me simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive … I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited …"

Harker is saved by the timely intervention of the Count who, re-enacting Rochester's role when Mason is bitten by Bertha, confines them again to their locked quarters.

Lucy Westenra initially seems an unlikely descendant of Bertha Mason. Frequently described as "sweet," she is quiet, pretty, and well bred, with a good moral education. Three men fall in love with her and propose marriage, and although she must refuse two of them it is done with genuine regret at the necessity of hurting them and none of the flirtation common to Blanche Ingram or Mary Crawford. Lucy is attacked by Dracula whose effect on her appears to be sexual; she is heard tossing and moaning and discovered breathless and flushed. Her inability to resist means that, despite the efforts of her would be rescuers, she is easy prey for Dracula on his return, and dies.




Once Lucy becomes a vampire herself she poses a serious moral threat — the loss of Heaven — but it is portrayed in sexual not religious tones; "the purity [was turned] to voluptuous wantonness." Lucy wears a long white shroud resembling both a wedding dress and an angel's gown and carries a child upon whom she has been preying. She attempts to seduce her fiancé into joining her; and he "under a spell" almost does so. In losing her soul Lucy has become a travesty of wife, mother and Angel, endangering any respectable man falling within her sphere of influence; the archetypal establishment view of the New Woman.





As well as the female vampire representing sexual liberation and dominance, it can also be argued that she embodies the notion of the liberated woman. Adèle Gladwell writes in her article ‘The Erogenous Disease’, ‘The female vampire remains an intriguing character, as she was perceived to be the “metaphor of female liberation” in a period of complete patriarchy’ ‘Her sexuality and cunning nature were seen as the antithesis of Victorian women […] her behaviour caused a sense of fear in men due to the power she exuded […] could seduce men and women alike, making her a formidable foe […] the male vampire is a frightening figure to men […] he can show women their own masculinity, including their innate sexuality as a member of the human species’. She continues of the sexual awareness of the female vampire, ‘The female vampire, on the other hand, is already aware of this sexuality […] capable of destroying and emasculating the male character. This masculinity of the female goes against the framework of Victorian standards […]’ this ‘emasculation’ of the male character is demonstrated in Stoker’s Dracula, and in Le Fanu’s Carmilla; both instances portray male impotence, both in a sexual and corporeal sense juxtaposed against the strength of the female vampire. In her article, Gladwell perfectly summarises the character of the Female Vampire, capturing all of her elements and highlighting her existence as taboo.




miércoles, 24 de septiembre de 2014

The Bohemianism


Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)


THE BOHEMIAN LIFESTYLE

Bohemia first began with Henry Murger and the Water Drinkers, in the cafe he discovered, the Cafe Momus. For many of these bohemians, the lifestyle was merely a stepping stone and not a full-blown profession. Murger himself always insisted that living in the world of bohemia without the ambition to leave it would destroy a person.

As with most counter-culture movements throughout history, as the 1st Generation of the bohemian movement came to be known by the wider public, many members of that public found it mysterious and intriguing, and willingly descended into its ranks. Many second generation bohemians did not see bohemia as a means to an end, however, and so the movement began to degrade.

Henri Murger (1822-1861)

"In his survey Le Boheme, in 1868, Gabriel Guillemot had pointed out that the word 'Bohemian' had dated. Bohemian, as he explained, was a word in the current vocabulary of 1840: it had meant the artist or student, gay and carefree, idle and boisterous, the characters whom Murger had painted in bright, attractive colours. But that Bohemia, wrote Guillemot, 'which one might call the Bohemia of legend, is well and truly dead'

Guillemot gave a harsh reading of 2nd Generation bohemia, but much he argued was true, such as "few men of talent, let alone men of genius, remained Bohemian throughout their lives. The vast majority of those who did were men who lacked the talent to make a lasting reputation, and men who lacked the moral fibre, the sense of responsibility, to lead a satisfactory adult life"

One member of 2nd generation bohemia was Paul Verlaine, (1844-1896), a poet who embraced the bohemian lifestyle all too heartily, and it caused many tragedies in his life. Heavily addicted to absinthe, Verlaine spent much time in the hospital or the tavern.

Originally married, Verlaine had a long, torrid affair with another well-known poet, Arthur Rimbaud. Rimbaud was ten years younger, and he encouraged Verlaine's drinking and violent temper to such an extent that Verlaine's other bohemian friends refused to spend time with him when he was with Rimbaud. Their relationship ended tragically when Verlaine shot and killed Rimbaud and was imprisoned. Even after his imprisonment, Verlaine's life was full of alcohol, poverty, and indiscretions.

Though his poetry has become a respected part of the literary canon, Verlaine is an example of how bohemia began to degrade in later years, and lost some of the purity of purpose that Murger had always tried to emphasize.

Not everything about bohemia began to degrade, of course. In general there was a change from a world of Murger, Romanticism, and the Cafe Momus to artists like Courbet, Realism, and the Brasserie Andler (which was "conveniently situated on the ground floor of Courbet's house in the Rue Hautefeuille"). The group which had made up the original Water Drinkers was breaking up, many members were either dead or "like Murger and Champfleury themselves, had forced their way into the larger world of journalism and the theatre".

Bohemia as a whole in Paris ended in 1914, with the onset of World War I. Such a carefree lifestyle was intolerable with France being thrown into a flurry of war campaigns. It was time to get serious, fight for one's country, and leave art and music behind, at least for a while.

"Terrace on a Cafe on Montmartre" 1886
Vincent Van Gogh 

Mention Bohemia to any Frenchman during the mid-ninteenth century and they would think of the cafes that Murger and his friends frequented. Around tables in these cafes, Bohemians met to socialize and share ideas.

Henry Murger discovered the Cafe Momus, on the Right Bank near the church of Saint-Germaine-l'Auxerrois, in the years preceding 1848. This cafe soon became a popular meeting-place of such important Bohemians as Gustave Courbet and Alexandre Privat d'Anglemont. The Cafe Momus was such an important location for the Bohemians that it was featured in Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme.

Murger also visited the Chez Dinochau and Brasserie des Martyrs on the Right Bank. The Brasserie des Martyrs, a noisy, smoke-filled cafe in the rue des Martyrs. The Brasserie was a cafe for writers and painters like Murger, Baudelaire and Courbet. The Brasserie des Martyrs was famous for providing a genuine Bohemian atmosphere. Together Murger, Courbet and Baudelaire, who had met in the 1840s in cafes like the Momus, represented three styles of Bohemian life.

When these different types of Bohemianism came together in the cafes to drink coffee, lively discussion almost always followed.

Drawing by Thackeray

The Bohemians devoted a lot of their time to undermining mainstream culture. This meant sitting all day in a cafe and buying only one cup of coffee or setting up an easel and nude model right inside the cafe, and it also meant showing defiance through dress and manner. Bohemian Fashion is something of a contradiction in terms, because usually the bohemians dressed themselves in whatever they could scrounge up.

However, as Hanna Manchin discusses in her essay, "The Grisette as the Female Bohemian," the bohemians turned their poverty into a statement and made it powerful. "Their irreverence for bourgeois norms was partly due to necessity, but it was the meaning that they made of their situation that made them subversive." The bohemians were always known for being dressed in out-of-date styles or unfashionable colors, "but they did not understand this as shameful" (Manchin).
A fine example of the absurdity of bohemian fashion can be found in the opening passages of Henry Murger's Scenes de la Vie de Boheme. As the story opens, we are introduced to the vibrant Schaunard, a poor musician living in the Latin Quarter of Paris. He awakens with a jolt, and what follows gives us a good idea of the blatant disregard Bohemians had for fashion and "high culture:"

"To protect himself against the biting north-wind, Schaunard slipped on in haste a pink satin petticoat with spangled stars, which served him for dressing-gown. This gay garment had been left at the artist's lodging, one masked-ball night, by a foile, who was fool enough to let herself be entrapped by the deceitful promises of Schaunard..."

"Painters are the only persons who can decently appear in dressing-gowns; but these are none of your easy morning-gowns; they are commonly of splendid stuff, and put on by the artist in order to render himself remarkable and splendid in the eyes of his sitter" (Thackerayana 444).

Schaunard continues to prepare for his day, and it is hard not to fall in love with such a jovial, silly character:

"He was preparing to put on an overcoat, originally of a long-haired, woolly fabric, but now completely bald from age, when suddenly, as if bitten by a tarantula, he began to execute around the room a polka of his own composition, which at the public balls had often caused him to be honoured with the particular attention of the police."

Schaunard is not the only Bohemian with a blatant disregard for fashion. The 'Battle' of Hernani also gave the bohemians a chance to showcase their scorn for bourgeois ideals. They arrived at the event, as Hugo recollected, "wild whimsical characters, bearded, long-haired, dressed in every fashion but the reigning one, in pea-jackets, in Spanish cloaks, in waistcoats a la Robespierre, in Henry III bonnets, carrying on their heads and backs articles of costume from every century and clime, and this in the middle of Paris and in broad daylight" (Easton 53).



One of the values that bohemians renounced was private property. They rarely had any permanent dwellings or furniture to go in them. They lived and worked in the cafes, streets, libraries and other public spaces of Paris. Bohemians possessed few worldly belongings at all. Schunard, one of Murger's characters, carried all of his belongings inside gigantic pockets in his clothing. Members of Bohemia often adopted a communal lifestyle, sharing lodging with other Bohemian companions. They often carried around a few luxury or decorative items that served to spruce up a drab living space for a night of celebration; to "set up for the occasion as one might pitch a tent." If an artist found a living space he might decorate the walls with his paintings.

The bohemian life was carefree. As part of their rebellion against "genteel" society, bohemians felt no reason to exhibit moral or socially acceptable behavior. One participant, Houssaye, printed in his memoirs, "We were afraid of nothing and thumbed our noses at public opinion. . .The most outstanding characteristic of our Bohemian existence was our open revolt against all prejudices, I might say against all laws. We lived as if entrenched in a fortress from which we made belligerent sallies ridiculing everything." (Knepler, 31,32)

Bohemians tended to indulge in alcohol as well as drug experimentation. In fact, drugs were used by many to supposedly help with inspiration. Bohemians were also overtly promiscuous, in contrast to how the bourgeois obscured this facet of their lives. Houssaye records one of his friends saying, "I would give my French citizenship for a view of Julia Grisi emerging from her bath." (Knepler, 32) Bohemian men made as many conquests as they could. Schunard had a collection of sixty locks of hair, exemplifying this pleasure-seeking way of life.

Pursuit of Wealth: In contrast to the Bourgeois preoccupation with obtaining wealth and status, the bohemian life was characteristically idle; idle in the sense that they did nothing that yielded material wealth. A friend of Houssaye said, "I don't do any work, on the pretext of writing a poem; and I write a poem to have an excuse for not doing anything." (Knepler, 33) A bohemian's "job" was the perfection of his literature or art. If a bohemian wished to gain higher status it was ideally through the pursuit of his passion. Houssaye himself observed, "Our lives seemed to pass in the serious service of art, and the light-hearted service of love. Beyond heart and intellect we refused to go." (Knepler, 32) Murger's Scenes de La Vie de Boheme illustrate how this ideal played out in day to day life. In one scene Schunard wakes up to find that his rent is due that day, only to ignore this trivial issue, sit down at his piano, and wait for musical inspiration.

Bohemians felt the need to express and assert themselves, being at such a social and economic disadvantage. It was almost as if they flaunted their marginality; by practicing an alternative and contrasting lifestyle, bohemians undermined the bourgeois.

www.mtholyoke.edu








sábado, 20 de septiembre de 2014

Giacomo Leopardi: Il Sogno



GIACOMO LEOPARDI (1798-1837)

È ritenuto il maggior poeta dell'Ottocento italiano e una delle più importanti figure della letteratura mondiale, nonché una delle principali del romanticismo letterario; la profondità della sua riflessione sull'esistenza e sulla condizione umana – di ispirazione sensista e materialista – ne fa anche un filosofo di notevole spessore. La straordinaria qualità lirica della sua poesia lo ha reso un protagonista centrale nel panorama letterario e culturale europeo e internazionale, con ricadute che vanno molto oltre la sua epoca.

Leopardi, intellettuale dalla vastissima cultura, inizialmente sostenitore del classicismo, ispirato alle opere dell'antichità greco-romana, ammirata tramite le letture e le traduzioni di Mosco, Lucrezio, Epitteto ed altri, approdò al Romanticismo dopo la scoperta dei poeti romantici europei, quali Byron, Shelley, Chateaubriand, Foscolo, divenendone un esponente principale, pur non volendo mai definirsi romantico.

Il Sogno 1819-25


Era il mattino, e tra le chiuse imposte
Per lo balcone insinuava il sole
Nella mia cieca stanza il primo albore;
Quando in sul tempo che più leve il sonno
E più soave le pupille adombra,
Stettemi allato e riguardommi in viso
Il simulacro di colei che amore
Prima insegnommi, e poi lasciommi in pianto.
Morta non mi parea, ma trista, e quale
Degl'infelici è la sembianza. Al capo
Appressommi la destra, e sospirando,
Vivi, mi disse, e ricordanza alcuna
Serbi di noi? Donde, risposi, e come
Vieni, o cara beltà? Quanto, deh quanto
Di te mi dolse e duol: nè mi credea
Che risaper tu lo dovessi; e questo
Facea più sconsolato il dolor mio.
Ma sei tu per lasciarmi un'altra volta?
Io n'ho gran tema. Or dimmi, e che t'avvenne?
Sei tu quella di prima? E che ti strugge
Internamente? Obblivione ingombra
I tuoi pensieri, e gli avviluppa il sonno,
Disse colei. Son morta, e mi vedesti
L'ultima volta, or son più lune. Immensa
Doglia m'oppresse a queste voci il petto.
Ella seguì: nel fior degli anni estinta,
Quand'è il viver più dolce, e pria che il core
Certo si renda com'è tutta indarno
L'umana speme. A desiar colei
Che d'ogni affanno il tragge, ha poco andare
L'egro mortal; ma sconsolata arriva
La morte ai giovanetti, e duro è il fato
Di quella speme che sotterra è spenta.
Vano è saper quel che natura asconde
Agl'inesperti della vita, e molto
All'immatura sapienza il cieco
Dolor prevale. Oh sfortunata, oh cara,
Taci, taci, diss'io, che tu mi schianti
Con questi detti il cor. Dunque sei morta,
O mia diletta, ed io son vivo, ed era
Pur fisso in ciel che quei sudori estremi
Cotesta cara e tenerella salma
Provar dovesse, a me restasse intera
Questa misera spoglia? Oh quante volte
In ripensar che più non vivi, e mai
Non avverrà ch'io ti ritrovi al mondo,
Creder nol posso. Ahi ahi, che cosa è questa
Che morte s'addimanda? Oggi per prova
Intenderlo potessi, e il capo inerme
Agli atroci del fato odii sottrarre.
Giovane son, ma si consuma e perde
La giovanezza mia come vecchiezza;
La qual pavento, e pur m'è lunge assai.
Ma poco da vecchiezza si discorda
Il fior dell'età mia. Nascemmo al pianto,
Disse, ambedue; felicità non rise
Al viver nostro; e dilettossi il cielo
De' nostri affanni. Or se di pianto il ciglio,
Soggiunsi, e di pallor velato il viso
Per la tua dipartita, e se d'angoscia
Porto gravido il cor; dimmi: d'amore
Favilla alcuna, o di pietà, giammai
Verso il misero amante il cor t'assalse
Mentre vivesti? Io disperando allora
E sperando traea le notti e i giorni;
Oggi nel vano dubitar si stanca
La mente mia. Che se una volta sola
Dolor ti strinse di mia negra vita,
Non mel celar, ti prego, e mi soccorra
La rimembranza or che il futuro è tolto
Ai nostri giorni. E quella: ti conforta,
O sventurato. Io di pietade avara
Non ti fui mentre vissi, ed or non sono,
Che fui misera anch'io. Non far querela
Di questa infelicissima fanciulla.
Per le sventure nostre, e per l'amore
Che mi strugge, esclamai; per lo diletto
Nome di giovanezza e la perduta
Speme dei nostri dì, concedi, o cara,
Che la tua destra io tocchi. Ed ella, in atto
Soave e tristo, la porgeva. Or mentre
Di baci la ricopro, e d'affannosa
Dolcezza palpitando all'anelante
Seno la stringo, di sudore il volto
Ferveva e il petto, nelle fauci stava
La voce, al guardo traballava il giorno.
Quando colei teneramente affissi
Gli occhi negli occhi miei, già scordi, o caro,
Disse, che di beltà son fatta ignuda?
E tu d'amore, o sfortunato, indarno
Ti scaldi e fremi. Or finalmente addio.
Nostre misere menti e nostre salme
Son disgiunte in eterno. A me non vivi
E mai più non vivrai: già ruppe il fato
La fe che mi giurasti. Allor d'angoscia
Gridar volendo, e spasimando, e pregne
Di sconsolato pianto le pupille,
Dal sonno mi disciolsi. Ella negli occhi
Pur mi restava, e nell'incerto raggio
Del Sol vederla io mi credeva ancora.

miércoles, 17 de septiembre de 2014

El Post Número 600



Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

Although remembered now for his elegantly argued critical essays, Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) began his career as a poet, winning early recognition as a student at the Rugby School where his father, Thomas Arnold, had earned national acclaim as a strict and innovative headmaster. Arnold also studied at Balliol College, Oxford University. In 1844, after completing his undergraduate degree at Oxford, he returned to Rugby as a teacher of classics. After marrying in 1851, Arnold began work as a government school inspector, a grueling position which nonetheless afforded him the opportunity to travel throughout England and the Continent. Throughout his thirty-five years in this position Arnold developed an interest in education, an interest which fed into both his critical works and his poetry. Empedocles on Etna (1852) and Poems (1853) established Arnold's reputation as a poet and in 1857 he was offered a position, which he accepted and held until 1867, as Professor of Poetry at Oxford. Arnold became the first professor to lecture in English rather than Latin. During this time Arnold wrote the bulk of his most famous critical works, Essays in Criticism (1865) and Culture and Anarchy (1869), in which he sets forth ideas that greatly reflect the predominant values of the Victorian era.

Meditative and rhetorical, Arnold's poetry often wrestles with problems of psychological isolation. In "To Marguerite—Continued," for example, Arnold revises Donne's assertion that "No man is an island," suggesting that we "mortals" are indeed "in the sea of life enisled." Other well-known poems, such as "Dover Beach," link the problem of isolation with what Arnold saw as the dwindling faith of his time. Despite his own religious doubts, a source of great anxiety for him, in several essays Arnold sought to establish the essential truth of Christianity. His most influential essays, however, were those on literary topics. In "The Function of Criticism" (1865) and "The Study of Poetry" (1880) Arnold called for a new epic poetry: a poetry that would address the moral needs of his readers, "to animate and ennoble them." Arnold's arguments, for a renewed religious faith and an adoption of classical aesthetics and morals, are particularly representative of mainstream Victorian intellectual concerns. His approach—his gentlemanly and subtle style—to these issues, however, established criticism as an art form, and has influenced almost every major English critic since, including T. S. Eliot, Lionel Trilling, and Harold Bloom. Though perhaps less obvious, the tremendous influence of his poetry, which addresses the poet's most innermost feelings with complete transparency, can easily be seen in writers as different from each other as W. B. Yeats, James Wright, Sylvia Plath, and Sharon Olds. Late in life, in 1883 and 1886, Arnold made two lecturing tours of the United States. Matthew Arnold died in Liverpool in 1888.

"Cadmus & Harmonia" 1852

Far, far from here,
The Adriatic breaks in a warm bay
Among the green Illyrian hills; and there
The sunshine in the happy glens is fair,
And by the sea, and in the brakes.
The grass is cool, the sea-side air
Buoyant and fresh, the mountain flowers
More virginal and sweet than ours.

And there, they say, two bright and aged snakes,
Who once were Cadmus and Harmonia,
Bask in the glens or on the warm sea-shore,
In breathless quiet, after all their ills;
Nor do they see their country, nor the place
Where the Sphinx lived among the frowning hills,
Nor the unhappy palace of their race,
Nor Thebes, nor the Ismenus, any more.

There those two live, far in the Illyrian brakes!
They had stay'd long enough to see,
In Thebes, the billow of calamity
Over their own dear children roll'd,
Curse upon curse, pang upon pang,
For years, they sitting helpless in their home,
A grey old man and woman; yet of old
The Gods had to their marriage come,
And at the banquet all the Muses sang.

Therefore they did not end their days
In sight of blood, but were rapt, far away,
To where the west-wind plays,
And murmurs of the Adriatic come
To those untrodden mountain-lawns; and there
Placed safely in changed forms, the pair
Wholly forgot their first sad life, and home,
And all that Theban woe, and stray
For ever through the glens, placid and dumb.

domingo, 14 de septiembre de 2014

Lord Byron "To Woman"



Lord Byron (1788-1824)

"To Woman", 1806


Woman! experience might have told me,
That all must love thee who behold thee:
Surely experience might have taught
Thy firmest promises are naught:
But, placed in all thy charms before me,
All I forget, but to adore thee.
Oh memory! Thou choicest blessing
When join’d with hope, when still possessing;
But how much cursed by every lover
When hope is fled and passion’s over.
Woman, that fair and fond deceiver,
How throbs the pulse when first we view
The eye that rolls in glossy blue,
Or sparkles black, or mildly throws
A beam from under hazel brows!
How quick we credit every oath,
And hear her plight the willing troth!
Fondly we hope’t will last for aye,
When, lo! she changes in a day.
This record will for ever stand,
“Woman, thy vows are traced in sand.”





jueves, 11 de septiembre de 2014

Víctor Balaguer "La dama del rat penat"



Víctor Balaguer (1824-1901)

Víctor Balaguer i Cirera nació en Barcelona, en 1824, en un hogar de clase social relativamente acomodada. Después de la prematura muerte de su padre, su madre intentó conducir con mano firme su formación, pero el joven Balaguer muy pronto mostró su predilección por un estilo de vida de inspiración romántica y liberal. En 1844, obtuvo el título de bachiller en Jurisprudencia por la Universidad de Barcelona; no obstante, el año siguiente abandonó los estudios.

En estos años de juventud, tuvo una intensa actividad asociativa, literaria y periodística. Frecuentó tertulias y fue miembro activo de entidades culturales de Barcelona, como la Sociedad Filomática, la Sociedad Filarmónica y Literaria y la Real Academia de Buenas Letras. Publicó multitud de obras en la mayoría de los géneros (teatro, poesía, narrativa, divulgación de lugares catalanes), tradujo los románticos franceses, dirigió colecciones literarias y fue poeta teatral. Impulsó y colaboró en numerosos títulos de prensa, entre los que destaca su trabajo como director de El Genio (1844-1845) y El Catalán (1849-1850) y como redactor del Diario de Barcelona (1850-1854).

El periodo 1854-1868 fue el más relevante en varios ámbitos de actuación y en la formulación de su pensamiento catalanista y progresista. En el literario, publicó algunos de sus trabajos más significativos, como Don Juan de Serrallonga o los bandoleros de las Guillerías (drama, 1858, con versión catalana de 1868), Don Juan de Serrallonga (novela, 1858), La libertad constitucional (ensayo histórico y político, 1858), las poesías catalanas de «Lo trovador de Montserrat» (ediciones de 1861 y 1868) y Esperançes y records (ensayo, poesía y teatro, 1866), a la vez que fue uno de los principales impulsores de los Juegos Florales, de la hermandad entre las letras catalanas y occitanas y líder del sector liberal de la Renaixença. En el ámbito histórico, culminó la Historia de Cataluña y de la Corona de Aragón (1860-1864), primera historia general de Cataluña publicada en la época contemporánea. En el periodístico, dirigió publicaciones capitales en la presentación de su pensamiento, como La Corona de Aragón (1854-56), El Conseller (1856-57) y La Montaña de Montserrat (1868) y fue corresponsal de El Telégrafo en la guerra de Italia (1859). Como cronista de Barcelona, presentó un proyecto de nomenclátor para el nuevo Ensanche que permitiera la visualización de la identidad nacional catalana y que fue en buena parte aplicado.

En este mismo periodo, realizó el paso definitivo a la política. Fue miembro activo del Partido Progresista en Cataluña, diputado provincial (1862-1866) e intervino en el ciclo revolucionario dirigido por Delgado, que le comportó el exilio. A partir de la Revolución de 1868, inició una carrera política de primer orden, que lo llevó a ser presidente de la Diputación Provincial de Barcelona (1868-1869), diputado a Cortes (1869-1873 y 1876-1889, con fijación al distrito de Vilanova i la Geltrú), senador vitalicio (1889-1901), director general de Estadística (1869) y de Comunicaciones (1871), ministro de Ultramar (1871, 1874 y 1886-1888) y de Fomento (1872), presidente del Tribunal de Cuentas (1874-1875), del Consejo de Estado (1883-1884) y de numerosos organismos. Fue dirigente en clave española del Partido Liberal y de la Izquierda Dinástica y líder indiscutible de los parlamentarios catalanes. Desde estas ocupaciones, protagonizó intensas campañas en defensa de los intereses generales catalanes (industria, infraestructuras), luchó por la universalización de la educación y la cultura, y fue un especialista en temas de ultramar.

Estuvo vinculado a la Masonería. Ingresó en las reales academias de la Historia (1875) y Española (1883). Fundó en Vilanova i la Geltrú la Biblioteca-Museo que lleva su nombre y en Madrid el Museo-Biblioteca de Ultramar, que dirigió hasta su muerte, que tuvo lugar en aquella ciudad en 1901.


LA DAMA DEL RAT PENAT
(La dama del murciélago)

Allà baix, al plá, 
un llorer hi havia. 
Sota del llorer, 
bona y adormida, 
una dama jau 
sobre una catifa; 
la catifa es d'or 
y de seda fina; 
la dama es un cel, 
d'hermosa y bonica. 
¡Ay, si ella volgués, 
jo la vetllaria 
de dia y de nit, 
de nit y de dia! 

Mes un rat penat 
que sempre la mira 
prop d'ella s'está 
y en ella s'ensiza 
sens móurers de nit, 
de nit ni de dia. 

—Senyor rat penat, 
per Déu no 'm diria 
si es morta la dama 
que mon cor admira? 
Morta dihuen qu' es, 
mes jo la crech viva.
—No 'n es morta, no, 
sols está dormida.
Ja es despertará
cuant vinga lo dia, 
cuant l’hora n'arribe, cuant l'hora ne sone, 
cuant l'hora ne sia. 


11 de Setembre, Diada Nacional de Catalunya
9/11 National Day of Catalonia