The Tree of Knowledge (novel)
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The Tree of Knowledge (Spanish: El árbol de la ciencia) is a novel written by Pío Baroja. It was published in 1911, although the action takes place between 1887 and 1898. It is a semi-autobiographical work divided into two symmetrical parts (I-III and V–VII) separated by a long philosophical conversation between the protagonist and his uncle, doctor Iturrioz (IV).
|Original title||El árbol de la ciencia|
|Translator||Aubrey F. G. Bell|
|Media type||Print (hardback)|
The first part of the novel deals with the life of the medicine student Andrés Hurtado. Through his family, teachers, classmates and diverse friends, Baroja draws a merciless painting of the bourgeois and proletarian 19th century inhabitants of Madrid.
The second half of the novel tells the stay of Hurtado (now a doctor) in Alcolea, a fictitious town in Castilla-La Mancha (where the author shows the dreadful conditions the peasant had to endure such as caciquism, ignorance, apathy or resignation), his return to Madrid (where he works as a hygiene doctor – emphasizing the description that Baroja makes of prostitution in the 19th century Madrid) and, finally, his unfortunate marriage to Lulú, a young woman he met when he was a student.
IV is in direct dialogue (it is totally different from the rest of the novel in which third-person narration is predominant) and contrasts the English pragmatism (supported by Doctor Iturrioz) to the German idealism that Andrés Hurtado defends.
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