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In 1978 the internationally renowned Hispanist Juan López-Morillas joined the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas at Austin, following thirty-five years of distinguished service at Brown University in the fields of Spanish and comparative literature. After his retirement in 1989, he and his wife continued to live and work primarily in Austin until his death here on March 21, 1997, at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife, Frances, his son Martin Morell of New York City, son Julian López-Morillas of Oakland, California, his daughter, Consuelo López-Morillas of Bloomington, Indiana, his brother Emilio López-Morillas of Madrid, and three grandchildren.
Professor López-Morillas was born on August 11, 1913, in Jódar, a town in the province of Jaén, in southern Spain, where he studied as a child, and where many years later a local school would be named in his honor, the Instituto de Bachillerato Juan López-Morillas. In Madrid he studied at the Instituto de San Isidro from 1924 to 1929, then, at the University of Madrid, where he earned a law degree in 1934 and where he initiated his studies of languages, which, besides the Romance languages, included Russian, an interest to be pursued extensively in his later years. The year 1935 marked a decisive turn in his life when he left his homeland and came to the University of Iowa, where he would study with a major American Hispanist of that time, Erwin K. Mapes. Two years later he married Frances Mapes, a close union to be ended only with his demise in 1997. After earning his Ph.D. in Romance languages at Iowa in 1940, he remained there as instructor and assistant professor until 1943, when he became a member of the Spanish faculty at Brown University and a colleague of one of the outstanding Hispanists in the United States, W. L. Fichter. It could scarcely have been a more perfect move, as is reflected in an interview at Brown in 1979: "I was not particularly anxious to continue in the Midwest. I had thought of returning to Spain after the war, but then, with Franco, who could return to Spain? Within two or three years of coming to Brown I felt really that this was a match for life."
By 1951 he was Professor of Spanish, but even from his early years at Brown he was interested in branching out and identifying his own field more precisely, an inclination which would lead to a superior record in teaching and research, not only in Spanish but in comparative literature and intellectual history. He served as Chairman of the Department of Spanish and Italian from 1960 to 1967. Thanks in large part to his own vigorous efforts, a Department of Comparative Literature was created at Brown, and from 1967 to 1973 he served as Alumni-Alumnae Chair of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature. For five more years he continued with the same responsibilities in the William Kenan, Jr. Chair. His classes attracted excellent students from a variety of fields at Brown. But it was not only they who were challenged by him: as he himself has pointed out, the stimulating interchange between teacher and student was an impetus for him not only to write many essays on Spanish literature, but to define more sharply his own research fields. Many of his students went on to highly successful academic careers; among those who did their graduate work with him an impressive number have become major names in the field of Hispanic studies.
In 1978 a mandatory retirement regulation at age sixty-five meant the end of a brilliant career on the Brown campus. But in that year the chairman of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas was fortunate enough to interest him in coming to Austin, where, in 1979, he was named Ashbel Smith Professor of Spanish, which title he held until his retirement in 1989, and as Emeritus until l997. On the Univeristy of Texas campus, seemingly as vigorous and enthusiastic as ever, he dedicated himself anew to classes in Spanish literature and comparative literature, to administrative chores both within and outside of the Department, and to international organizations or the Modern Language Association. With no letup he continued his research and writing. In retirement Professor López-Morillas and his wife retained close contact with friends and colleagues on the Austin campus and continued their demanding work schedules. A shift in emphasis occurred as he began to devote himself primarily to translating the great Russian novelists of the nineteenth century into Spanish. At the same time his wife, Frances, established a reputation in her own right as one of the country's preeminent translators from Spanish to English. Among numerous books to her credit are works by Pérez Galdós, Camilo José Cela, Miguel Delibes, and Jorge Luis Borges. Their life in this period included periodic stays at their apartment in Madrid, trips to professional conferences, visits to see their son Julian, an accomplished actor, in California, and trips to see their daughter, Consuelo-also an eminent Hispanist-in Bloomington, Indiana. They also enjoyed occasional pleasure trips to more distant parts of the world.
Honors, titles, listings, and new offices proliferated for Professor López-Morillas, while at both Brown and the University of Texas. His research work was supported early by a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1950-51, an American Philosophical Society grant in 1954, a second Guggenheim in 1957-58, and an American Council of Learned Societies grant in 1974. He was Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar in 1966-67. He held visiting positions of distinction at the University of Virginia, Harvard (in 1947 and 1959), Southern California, Duke, Middlebury, Trinity College at Oxford, and the University Pittsburgh. He was a member of the advisory boards of major Spanish and comparative literature journals. In addition to memberships in various scholarly organizations, he served on several committees in the Modern Language Association of America, including the Executive Committee (1981-85). One of his major accomplishments in the field of Hispanic studies was his work in the Asociación Internacional de Hispanistas, of which he was co-founder in 1965, Vice-President (1965-71), President (1980-83), and Honorary President (since 1983). The AIH has continued to grow and meet regularly in different countries. He had the Orden de Isabel la Católica bestowed upon him by King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1985 for his role in the diffusion of Spanish culture in the world. In 1979, shortly after his retirement from Brown, he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) by that University, to be followed by a Festschrift in his honor: Homenaje a Juan López-Morillas: Estudios sobre literatura e historia intelectual española (1982). In 1987 he was made corresponding member of the Real Academia Española.
Professor López-Morillas's scholarly legacy is great. While he was one of a small number of indispensable experts on the intellectual history of modern Spain, he was also author of a variety of equally indispensable works of literary criticism, devoted primarily to major Spanish authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to which may be added numerous reviews, introductions and prologues. Far from an assortment of random interests, his works represent an interrelated and disciplined production motivated by a unified ethical and artistic vision and a preoccupation with the modern history and destiny of his native land. Early literary studies, on Unamuno, Rubén Darío, Antonio Machado, and García Lorca, among others, revealed a voice of complete critical maturity and a striking ability to go to the heart of the matter, rendering the obscure comprehensible.
His identity as a premier intellectual historian and international name in Hispanic studies was to be confirmed decisively with the publication in 1956 of his book, El Krausismo español: perfil de una aventura intelectual. In the early part of the nineteenth century, Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, one of a number of post-Kantian German philosophers, developed a philosophical system that was introduced into Spain in mid-nineteenth century by Julián Sanz del Río, then a philosophy professor at the University of Madrid. Under him and a few devoted followers, Krausism was to acquire its own nature in Spain, not so much as a philosophical doctrine as an ethical guide, as an attitude and a model for a way of life, guided by reason, which in time might transform individuals and society and thus ultimately lead to a regeneration of Spain's long-stagnant cultural level. This is the phenomenon which Professor López-Morillas studied in precise detail. The relevance of this work to any significant investigation of the Spain of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is indisputable, as are its solid scholarly basis and lucid articulation.
Although this book was in no sense an activist work, given its heterodoxical subject matter, in the Spain of the Franco years (1939-1975) it could circulate only clandestinely. This was one factor in the demand for a second edition, which appeared, revised, in Madrid in 1980, and in the following year in a most readable English translation by his wife, published by the Cambridge University Press under the title, The Krausist Movement and Ideological Change in Spain, 1854-1874. Aside from a steady flow of studies on Krausism, Professor López-Morillas published annotated versions of documents by its representatives, all valuable supplements to his original book. Krausismo: estética y literatura (1973, 2nd. ed., 1990), is a collection of ten essays by various major critics of the end of the nineteenth century, all of whom can be called Krausists of differing sorts and generations, dealing with topics relating to the arts and literature. Apart from their intrinsic interest, the selections included in this volume serve to confirm the important role of the Krausist influence on the budding intellectual and artistic life of Spain in the late nineteenth century.
While Professor López-Morillas's investigations have embraced all the major figures identified with this heterogeneous group, his primary focus has been on the most influential of Sanz del Río's disciples, the great thinker, writer and educator of the second generation of the movement, Francisco Giner de los Ríos (1839-1915), who carries the program and the spirit of the Krausists into the twentieth century. Practically all the writers of Spain's literary renaissance of the Modernist period knew and admired Giner for his ideas and his idealism, for his influence on education (particularly in connection with the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, or "Free Institute of Learning," and the Residencia de Estudiantes), and as an inspiring model of dignity and dedication. But in the late 1960s, aware of the Spanish public's waning familiarity with Giner de los Ríos and of the fallacious nature of the oft-heard assertion that don Francisco "the man" was more important than his writing, Professor López-Morillas was prompted to publish an anthology of his writings (Francisco Giner de los Ríos: Ensayos). It forms an excellent portrait of a critical mind, of a man of vision as well as action, with selections divided among the arts and literature, education, philosophy and religion, and politics and sociology, and with a typically sound introduction by the compiler. In 1988 López-Morillas integrates a number of his own studies into a book called Racionalismo pragmático: el pensamiento de Francisco Giner de los Ríos. The title highlights the contrast between the practical thinker which is Giner, the Spanish reformer, and the rarefied "Harmonic Rationalism" at the core of Krause's post-Kantian philosophy.
The primary impact of Krausism is embraced by the period between the Revolution of l868 and "The Disaster" of 1898, according to Professor López-Morillas, from which it follows that "the Krausist group is the first which consciously aspires to a fundamental transformation of Spanish society." Thus do they stand as precursors to the more illustrious Generation of 1898, with whom this aspiration-to an obsessive degree-is most commonly associated. "Toward 1898..." is, then, the dynamic which unified López-Morillas's book published in 1972, Hacia el 98: literatura, sociedad, ideología. Among a variety of topics, in it we find a key study on the vital impact of Krausism on the Spanish novel, which became atypically polemical for the first time during the 1870s, moving toward critical realism, and another on Spain's greatest novelist of the past century, Pérez Galdós, whose character León Roch embodied much of the manner of the Krausists.
In addition to his work on this movement, Professor López-Morillas's investigations in Spanish intellectual history extend to twentieth-century writers who show affinities with them but represent a new age. The most prominent of these is José Ortega y Gasset, of whom López-Morillas considers himself a disciple. Another, also a disciple of Ortega and close friend of our Brown and Texas Professor, is Julián Marías, the most prolific philosopher of his generation. Yet another is Unamuno, one of the biggest names in Spanish letters in the twentieth century and an unparalleled example of the merging of philosophy and literature. While the Krausist writers themselves dealt extensively with the arts and literature-as do also Unamuno, Ortega y Gasset, and Julián Marías-so does López-Morillas move back and forth from intellectual history to literary criticism with no loss of mastery, as his book Intelectuales y espirituales: Unamuno, Machado, Ortega, Marías, Lorca (1961) amply illustrates.
Regarding literary criticism per se, Professor López-Morillas's contributions in this area were enriched by the broad scope of his research interests. The breadth of these interests enabled him to produce key studies of creative writers in a postwar world at a time when most Spanish writers were facing either exile or rigid censorship and literary criticism tended to be rhetorical and unfocused. Among numerous examples is his essay on the mythologizing process in a volume of poetry which, even while famous, went "unexplained" for years, "García Lorca y el primitivismo lírico: Reflexiones sobre el Romancero gitano." His pioneering insightful study, "Antonio Machado's Temporal Interpretation of Poetry," constitutes the essence of one of Spain's greatest modern poets. In due course these and other studies from as early as the 1940s were re-published in highly selective critical anthologies and in his own later collections in book form.
Last but not least among his published contributions to Spanish letters are his translations into Spanish of novels and short stories by the Russian masters of the past century-Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Checkhov. Done for the most part as a post-retirement project, they total over twenty volumes, with each work preceded by a sound introduction. Highly significant is the fact that they represent translations made directly from the Russian into Spanish, thereby either filling a void in Spanish publications or replacing poor translations of French versions (formerly a common practice in Spain's book industry). Their excellence and their popularity led to a carte blanche offer to Professor López-Morillas from the prestigious Alianza Editorial to publish any Russian work he might choose to translate.
It is not surprising that this outstanding scholar and teacher was in heavy demand as a public speaker. Through the course of his professional career, he was guest lecturer at over sixty universities across the United States and at several others in Spain and the United Kingdom. Papers read at international conferences were also numerous and included sites in an additional variety of countries. His talks, like his writing, were precise and devoid of rhetoric, but they were delivered in a forceful fashion and not infrequently enlivened by theatrical touches.
The values of the authors Professor López-Morillas chose to write about tell us much about his own character. Integrity and intelligence are high on the list, and like his masters, Giner de los Ríos, Unamuno, and Ortega y Gasset, he suffered from a measure of the "sickness of Flaubert," or inability to tolerate stupidity. Scholar, teacher, friend and family man were one. His ethical code was strict, and yet, he was a charming companion, impeccably gracious; he and his wife were generous with their time and unerringly delightful company. Especially memorable about him were those moments in informal exchanges in which a clever thought, or perhaps a special recollection or allusion, would light up a beaming smile and instantly prompt a flow of ingenious commentary from him. Above all, he was enamored of ideas, and the sparkle of excitement in his eyes, usually accompanying the smile in such moments, might well bring to mind Ortega y Gasset's characterization of an intellectual in The Revolt of the Masses, evoking the owl of Minerva, wide-eyed in the search for knowledge.
Prince Philip of the Spanish royal family, speaking at what might be called Spain's version of the Nobel prizes ceremony (the Premios Príncipe de Asturias) in 1997, said of the writers of the Generation of 1898, "The future of which they dreamed, thanks largely to them, is now ours," referring to the "modernization" of his country and to "what Don Quijote defined as 'the most precious gift God ever gave to man,' freedom" (ABC, 25-10-97). Although his will be a major absence in the mass of centennial celebrations being held this year in memory of those writers, Professor López-Morillas has left no doubt about the important role already played by him in clarifying the origins and progress of this long, arduous movement toward intellectual freedom.
Larry R. Faulkner, President
The University of Texas at Austin
John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty
This Memorial Resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Lee Fontanella (Chair), Douglass Rogers, Charles Rossman, and Carlos Solé.