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PERSONAJES.- Juan Valera

  • Issue date: 18/04/2005
  • Printing Process: Calcografía
  • Paper: Estucado engomado mate fosforescente
  • Size of stamp: 28,8 x 40,9 mm. (vertical)
  • Sheet effects: 50
  • Postal value of the stamps: 2,21 €
  • Print run: 1.000.000
  • Dented: 13 3/4

Correos has dedicated a stamp to one of the most versatile figures of 19th century Spanish literature. We are referring to the writer, politician, and diplomat from Cordoba, Juan Valera (Cabra, 1824 - Madrid, 1905). This year marks the centennial anniversary of his death. Said stamp, worth 2.21 €, shows the portrait of the famous author which was exhibited in the Teacher’s Lounge of the “Aguilar y Eslava” Secondary School, located at his birthplace. The painting was created by the painter Enrique Romero de Torres.


The artist was born as Juan Valera Alcalá Galiano, in the heart of an aristocratic family. He completed his Philosophy studies at the Malaga Seminary, and he studied Law in Granada and Madrid. In 1847 he began his diplomatic career in Naples, Lisbon, and Río de Janeiro; his experiences in this latter city were the inspiration for his novel Genio y figura. Later he continued his diplomatic experience in Russia before returning to Spain. In 1858 he was elected as a representative to the Courts, and in 1861 he became a member of the Royal Spanish Language Academy. He was appointed as general director on Public Education in 1872. Once he forfeited this position he returned to his diplomatic career; between 1881 and 1883 he was first in Lisbon, Washington, and Brussels, and finally in Vienna. Other novels began to appear from the time his first novel, Pepita Jiménez (1874), a novel which analyzes the seduction methods employed by a young widow in order to marry a young seminarian, was published. These included: Las ilusiones del doctor Faustino (1875), a brief story about doctor Fausto, who faithfully embodies the frustrated philosopher and the artist obsessed with overcoming the limits of the mystery; El comendador Mendoza (Commander Mendoza) (1877), a novel based on the adulterous relationship between doña Blanca and don Fadrique; in Doña Luz (1879) he showed that even religious people, as well as lay people, are not immune to human love. Although these works appeared over a period of years, alternately with his political and diplomatic experiences, it was not until 1895 that Valera truly followed his other passion: literature. This was a very prolific phase, during which he produced other novels: Juanita la Larga (1895), which tells of the mishaps experienced by a young woman who marries a fifty-something year old man; Genio y figura (1897), which tells of the gallant adventures of Rafaela; and Morsamor (1899), which tells the tale of the pilgrimages of Zuheros, a religious man, in various countries. Juan Valera, linked to the generation of 1868, also wrote poetry, theatrical works, stories, literary critiques, collected letters, and essays.

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