Leandro Fernández de Moratín

     Leandro Fernández de Moratín -Inarco Celenio beetween Rome’s Arcades-, was born in Madrid, as his father, Nicolás. Pockmarked since he was four years old, he became shy and timid. From his childhood, he was interested in theater and he could imitate writers like Jovellanos, García de la Huerta or even king Carlos III. From 1787 he was secretary of Count Cabarrús and two years later he took minor orders in order to get an ecclesiastic benefice.
   On 22/5/1790 he performed the versified comedy The Old Man and the Young Girl about Don Juan’s desease when he sees his girl friend Isabel deceived by his wicked tutor and married to the old don Roque. She finishes her days in an enclosed convent.
   The New Comedy or the Coffe-house, is a two-acts prose comedy performed on 7/2/1792. It is a satire against heroic comedy that indirectly mentions Comella, a dramatic writter. It shows don Eleuterio performing for the first time his Big Siege of Viena. Sure of his success, he prints his play and plans to marry her daughter to don Hermogenes. Anxiety and a clock failure makes them be late to the comedy’s disaster. Don Hermogenes leaves them but the author’s family escapes from ruin because of don Pedro’s philantropy: he offers don Eleuterio a job without mocking of him. From the Prologue, Moratin talked about its moral aim. He just “offers a true picture of our theater status”.
   Moratín travles to Francia and because of Revolution panic, he goes to England, where we translates Hamlet. From 1793 to 1796 he visits Italy. Back to Spain three years later, he conducts a Censoring Governing Body (1799) for reforming theater. It could not go on because of Municipal and actors claims in 1802.
   From 1787 he had a zarzuela called The Baron. Its premiere was in 1803, as a comedy.
   Next year Moratín performs The Hypocrite (19/5/1804), written from 1791: wise doña Inés must marry the ridiculous don Claudio. Doña Clara, sanctimonious girl, simulates a religious vocation that breaks down when don Claudio courts her in order to get her dowry. Ines gets this dowry and she shares it with the new married. The Hypocrite will create troubles with Inquisition.
   Moratin’s masterwork was The Yes of the Girls (24/1/1806), a possible remake of his lost comedy The Tutor. It deals with the refuse of old don Diego to marry the young girl doña Francisca, when he learns that she is in love with his nephew don Carlos.
   He criticizes the false religious education of girls in convents and unequal marriages beetween old men and young girls. He emphasizes values as discipline, sincerity, …
   His author runs away from Madrid in 1808 and goes back in 1811 in order to work in Jose Bonaparte Royal Library.
   A year later he was in Valencia with French Government. He lives in Peniscola and travels to Barcelone. There he performs in 1814 one of the two Moliere comedies he translated: The Winnowed Doctor.
   He lived in France and Italy until 1820. The Three Liberal Years resolves him to go back to Barcelone. But he comes back to France with Manuel Silvela because of a plague. He died in Paris when he was sixty eight.


D.Miguel Pérez Rosado.
Ph. D. in Hispanic Philology.