Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (29 January 1867 – 28 January 1928) was a journalist, politician and best-selling Spanish novelist in various genres whose most widespread and lasting fame in the English-speaking world is from Hollywood films adapted from his works. Throughout 2017, different activities are being organized in Spain to commemorate the 150 Anniversary of his birth.
Their works show the influence of Naturalism which he would most likely have assimilated through reading Émile Zola. His greatest personal success probably came from the novel Los cuatro jinetes del Apocalipsis (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) (1916), which tells a tangled tale of the French and German sons-in-law of an Argentinian land-owner who find themselves fighting on opposite sides in the First World War.
Its 1918 English translation by Charlotte Brewster Jordan became the best-selling novel in the U.S in 1919 according to Publishers Weekly, who hailed it as “a superbly human story told by a genius”. The novel was included in the list of 100 best novels of the twentieth century published in Spain.
In the novel, Tchernoff, one of the protagonists, describes the beast of the Apocalypse, and the four horsemen who precede it: Plague (or Conquest), War, Famine, and Death. At the end of the novel, when Marcelo Desnoyers, protagonist, is at the grave of his son Julio, he said that “there was no justice; the world was ruled by blind chance,” and he has a vision of the four horsemen, threatening to trample the earth once more: “All the rest was a dream. The four horsemen were the reality…”.
Part I of the novel ends with the statement, “The agony of humanity, under the brutal sweep of the four horsemen, was already begun!”. In particular, Vicente Blasco expressed the effects of war on human beings as follows:
“And the furious cavalcade was passing like a hurricane over the immense assemblage of human beings. The heavens showed above their heads, a livid, dark-edged cloud from the west. Horrible monsters and deformities were swarming in spirals above the furious horde, like a repulsive escort. Poor Humanity, crazed with fear, was fleeing in all directions on hearing the thundering pace of the Plague, War, Hunger and Death. Men and women, young and old, were knocking each other down and falling to the ground overwhelmed by terror, astonishment and desperation. And the white horse, the red, the black and the pale, were crushing all with their relentless, iron tread–the athletic man was hearing the crashing of his broken ribs, the nursing babe was writhing at its mother’s breast, and the aged and feeble were closing their eyes forever with a childlike sob”.
In the current situation of international affairs, in which war and conflicts still disrupt the life of humanity, the Fundación Paz sin Fronteras wants to recall the Vicente Blasco’s description on this painful and lethal phenomenon. Regrettably, in the XXI century the four horsemen still continue desolating course over the heads of terrified humanity and envenoming the wounded soldiers on the battlefield.