Good judges

I’ve always wondered where Spanish judges, particularly local ones, find justification for their habit of ignoring judicial precedent and ruling whatever the hell they feel like. Having read Azorín’s Los pueblos (1904) yesterday evening, I think I’m getting closer.

It contains the story of Don Alonso, a rural judge in Ciudad Real, who is presented with the new Spanish translation of yet more jugements du président Magnaud, which has made the journey all the way from Barcelona to accumulate dust in the window of a bookshop in the provincial capital.

El buen juez sits up all night reading the work of his illustrious colleague and the next day goes into court and hands down a sentence that astounds the town and horrifies his family. But he goes home satisfied:

[T]he spirit of Justice is so subtle, so undulating, that after a certain amount of time the moulds fabricated by men to contain it, that is to say, laws, come to be restrictive, antiquated, and so, until the legislators make other moulds, a good judge should make, for his own use, some modest little provisional moulds in the factory of his conscience.

Mario Vargas Llosa writes that the story was actually intended by the editor to be a review of the Magnaud volume, but José Payá Bernabé points out that it also reflects a sensational case of the time.

Tomás Maestre Pérez, professor of legal medicine and toxicology, fought a ferocious battle in 1904-5 to save from the Guadalajara prosecutor and the garrote two peasants, Juan García Moreno and his son Eusebio, who had been condemned to death for the murder of a relative, Guillermo “Oil Man” García. Maestre believed the death was suicide, and Azorín was influential in a national campaign to save the pair.

There’s a biography of le bon juge here, but I don’t think any of his writings are online yet.

Similar posts

Last updated 05/06/2007

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

Barcelona (1399):

Catalonia (1155):

France (228):

Generation of '98 (23): The Generation of '98 Generación del 98 or Generación de 1898) was a group of novelists, poets, essayists, and philosophers active in Spain at the time of the Spanish–American War. The name Generación del 98 was coined by José Martínez Ruiz, commonly known as Azorín, in his 1913 essays titled "La generación de 1898", alluding to the moral, political and social crisis in Spain produced by the loss of the colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam after defeat in the Spanish–American War that same year.

José Martínez Ruiz (7): José Augusto Trinidad Martínez Ruiz, better known by his pseudonym Azorín, was a Spanish novelist, essayist and literary critic.

Kaleboel (4307):

Mario Vargas Llosa (7): Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa, more commonly known as Mario Vargas Llosa, is a Peruvian writer, politician, journalist, essayist and college professor.

Spain (1881):

Spanish literature (171):

Translation (788):


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *