José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi

For Spanish speakers: Conferencia Bicentenario de El Periquillo Sarniento. I’ll pick up again on posting English extracts from the Frye translation of The Mangy Parrot shortly. Here is Danny Anderson’s entry for Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, pp. 213-214.

José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi (b. 15 November 1776; d. 21 June 1827),

Mexican writer. Born in Mexico City, Fernández de Lizardi began his education in Tepozotlán, where his father was a physician. He later went to Mexico City for further education and in 1793 entered the Colegio de San Ildefonso. After abandoning his studies in 1798 at his father’s death, Fernández de Lizardi held various bureaucratic positions and initially opposed the independence movement, a stance that he soon reversed in support of Iturbide. As a journalist he is most remembered for the newspaper El Pensador Mexicano (The Mexican Thinker [1812–1814]), which he founded when the Spanish Constitution of 1812 established freedom of the press. His writings reflect the Mexican social milieu at the time of the country’s struggle for independence. His special concern was the place of Spaniards born in the New World. Because of newspaper censorship, he resorted to fiction and wrote El periquillo sarniento (The Itching Parrot [published serially 1816; complete version published posthumously 1830–1831]). This picaresque tale is recognized as the “first” Spanish-American novel. It achieves compositional complexity and development, and it treats contemporary New World themes. Fernández de Lizardi wrote three other novels—Noches tristes y día alegre (Sad Nights and Happy Day [1818, 1819]), La Quijotita y su prima (Quijotita and Her Cousin [1818]), and Don Catrín de la Fachenda (written about 1819, published posthumously in 1832)—before he returned to journalism and pamphleteering in 1820. By 1822 Fernández de Lizardi became disenchanted with Iturbide and began to advocate liberal causes, and his modest social position became increasingly precarious. He died of tuberculosis in Mexico City.