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ADELARDO LOPEZ DE AYALA Y HERRERA (18...

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Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 72 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ADELARDO LOPEZ DE AYALA Y HERRERA (1828–1879), Spanish writer and politician, was born at Guadalcanal on the 1st of May 1828, and at a very early age began writing for the theatre of his native town. The titles of these juvenile performances, which were played by amateurs, were Salga por donde saliere, Me voy 4 Sevilla and La Corona y el Fugal. As travelling companies never visited Guadalcanal, and as ladies took no part in the representations, these three plays were written for men only. Ayala persuaded his sister to appear as the heroine of his comedy, La primera Dama, and the innovation, if it scandalized some of his townsmen, permitted him to develop his talent more freely. In his twentieth year he matriculated at the university of Seville, but his career as a student was undistinguished. In Seville he made acquaintance with Garcia Gutierrez, who is reported to have encouraged his dramatic ambitions and to have given him the benefit of his own experience as a playwright. Early in 1850 Ayala removed his name from the university books, and settled in Madrid with the purpose of becoming a professional dramatist. Though he had no friends and no influence, he speedily found an opening. A four-act play in verse, Un Hombre de Estado, was accepted by the managers of the Teatro Espanol, was given on the 25th of January 1851, and proved a remarkable success. Henceforward Ayala's position and popularity were secure. Within a twelve-month he became more widely known by his Castigo y Perden, and by a more humorous effort, Los dos Guzmanes; and shortly afterwards he was appointed by the Moderado government to a post in the home office, which he lost in 1854 on the accession to power of the Liberal party. In 1854 he produced Rioja, perhaps the most admired and the most admirable of all his works, and from 1854 to 1856 he took an active part in the political campaign carried on in the journal El Padre Cobos. A zarzuela, entitled Guerta a muerte, for which Emilio Arrieta composed the music, belongs to 1855, and to the same collaboration is due El Agente de Matrimonios. At about this date Ayala passed over from the Moderates to the Progressives, and this political manoeuvre had its effect upon the fate of his plays. The performances of Los Comuneros were attended by members of the different parties; the utterances of the different characters were taken to represent the author's personal opinions, and every speech which could be brought into connexion with current politics was applauded by one half of the house and derided by the other half. A zarzuela, named El Conde de Castralla, was given amid much uproar on the 20th of February 1856, and, as the piece seemed likely to cause serious disorder in the theatre, it was suppressed by the government after the third performance. Ayala's rupture with the Moderates was . now complete, and in 1857, through the interest of O'Donnell, he was elected as Liberal deputy for Badajoz. His political changes are difficult to follow, or to explain, and they have been unsparingly censured. So far as can be judged, Ayala had no strong political views, and drifted with the current of. the moment. He took part in the revolution of 1868, wrote the " Manifesto of Cadiz," took office as colonial minister, favoured the candidature of the duc de Montpensier, resigned in 1871, returned to his early Conservative principles, and was a member of Alfonso XII.'s first cabinet. Meanwhile, however divided in opinion as to his political conduct, his countrymen were practically unanimous in admiring his dramatic work; and his reputation, if it gained little by El Nuevo Don Juan, was greatly increased by El Tanto por Ciento and El Tejado de Vidrio. His last play, Consuelo, was given on the 3oth of March 1878. Ayala was nominated to the post of president of congress shortly before his death, which occurred unexpectedly on the 3oth of January 1879. The best of his lyrical work, excellent for finish and intense sincerity, is his Epistola to Emilio Arrieta, and had he chosen to dedicate himself to lyric poetry, he might possibly have ranked with the best of Spain's modern singers; as it is, he is a very considerable poet who affects the dramatic form. In his later writings he deals with modern society, its vices, ideals and perils; yet in many essentials he is a manifest disciple of Calderon. He has the familiar Calderonian limitations; the substitution of types for characters, of eloquence for vital dialogue. Nor can he equal the sublime lyrism of his model; but he is little inferior in poetic conception, in dignified idealization, and in picturesque imagery. And it may be fairly claimed for him that in El Tejado de Vidrio and El Tanta por Ciento he displays a very exceptional combination of satiric intention with romantic inspiration. By these plays and by Rioja and Consuelo he is entitled to be judged. They will at least ensure for him an honourable place in the history of the modern Spanish theatre. A complete edition of his dramatic works, edited by his friend and rival Tamayo y Baus, has been published in seven volumes (Madrid, 1881–1885). (J. F.-K.) AYE-AYE, a word of uncertain signification (perhaps only an exclamation), but universally accepted as the designation of the most remarkable and aberrant of all the Malagasy lemurs (see PRIMATES). The aye-aye, Chiromys (or Daubentonia) madagascariensis, is an animal with a superficial resemblance to a long-haired and dusky-coloured cat with unusually large eyes. It has a broad rounded head, short face, large naked eyes, large hands, and long thin fingers with pointed claws, of which the third is remarkable for its extreme, slenderness. The 'foot resembles that of the other lemurs in its large opposable great toe with a flat nail; but all the other toes have pointed compressed claws. Tail long and bushy. General colour dark brown, the outer fur being long and rather loose, with a woolly under-coat. Teats two, . inguinal in position. The aye-aye was discovered by Pierre Sonnerat in 178o, the specimen brought to Paris by that traveller being the only one known until 186o. Since then many others have been obtained, and one lived for several years in the gardens of the Zoological Society of London. Like so many lemurs, it is completely nocturnal in its habits, living either alone or in pairs, chiefly in the bamboo forests. Observations upon captive specimens have led to the conclusion that it feeds principally on juices, especially of the sugar-cane, which it obtains by tearing open the hard woody circumference of the stalk with its strong incisor teeth; but it is said also to devour certain species of wood-boring caterpillars, which it obtains by first cutting down with its teeth upon their burrows, and then• picking them out of their retreat with the claw of its attenuated middle finger., It constructs large ball-like nests of dried leaves, lodged in a fork of the branches of a large tree, and with the opening on one side. Till recently the aye-aye was regarded as representing a family by itself—the Ch'iromyidae; but the discovery that it resembles the other lemurs of Madagascar in the structure of the inner ear, and thus differs from all other members of the group, has led to the conclusion that it is best classed as a subfamily (Chiromyidae) of the Lemuridae, (R. L.*)
End of Article: ADELARDO LOPEZ DE AYALA Y HERRERA (1828–1879)
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