Monumento a Juan Valera, Paseo de Recoletos, Madrid, Spain
Luis de Vargas is a trainee priest. He dreams of nothing other than finishing his ecclesiastical studies and traveling to the Far East, where he intends to work in a mission and teach the gospels. But then he meets Pepita Jiménez. Beautiful Pepita Jiménez. Luis realises his passion for Pepita is greater than his passion for the priesthood. So after some considerable soul-searching, he gives up his dreams of being a priest and teaching the gospels. He marries beautiful Pepita Jiménez. And they all live happily ever after. Or so the story goes. Pepita Jiménez is the title character of Spanish writer Juan Valera’s first novel, published back in 1874. Juan had made Pepita a beautiful woman on the outside and on the inside, and she soon became on of Spanish literature’s favourite characters. Which is why she can be found sitting here, on the Juan Valera monument in Madrid. Juan himself had an illustrious career as a diplomat before writing his first novel at the age of 50. He wrote nine lengthy novels, many short stories and plays, and is remembered in this monument, which was designed by his nephew, the sculptor Lorenzo Coullant Valera in 1928. That’s Juan at the top, looking down on Pepita.
Juan’s nephew Lorenzo is also famous for another literary-themed monument in Madrid, the Cervantes Monument in the Plaza de España.