Friday, February 18, 2011

Where did Dr. José Rizal write his famous novel: Noli me tángere?

Cover of "Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) ...Cover via Amazonwhere did Dr. jose rizal write the Noli me
Where did Jose Rizal sit down to physically write the Noli me tangere?

Dr. José Rizal started writing his novel Noli me tangere in Spain and finished up the last chapters in Germany.

When did he have the time to write?  It was 1885.  He just successfully completed his Philosophy and Letters course work at the Universidad Central de Madrid.  He was also completing his medical degree  at the Medical College of San Marcos.  He had a very busy schedule, but Rizal always always prioritized his hours.  He made sure that he attended events of interest at the Ateneo de Madrid.   Rizal's thoughts were already venturing into writing a novel about the Philippine condition.  The idea was just  percolating in his mind.  With his enriched exposure at the Ateneo de Madrid  his writing plans like  a bottle of Champagne, begin to bubble to the surface with particular excitement as he met and interacted with several authors of the period.

We have a different view of Ateneo.  We are blindsided by the fact that the Jesuits in the Philippines founded their college (later elevated to a university) as the Ateneo de Manila.  The Ateneo de Madrid is not a degree-granting university but  a venue for scholars, writers, students, and artists. In effect it was and still is, a social and academic community that polished a person's views and exposed one to a multifaceted high culture of scholarship and research. 

At the Ateneo, de Madrid he was exposed to celebrated  scholars, authors, literary celebrities, as well as political figures (where he met Prince Bismarck of Bavaria) through lectures, interviews, tertulias, drinking bouts, fabulous dinners,  and theater and cultural performances.

Just to give readers a sense of my visit at Ateneo de Madrid in July 2007, I attended the following events: 
Madrid's Ateneo-- Rizal's favorite
  • A sculpture exhibit by Paraula
  • A lecture on writing the historical novel:  Laura Lopez and Mar Tomas
  • The Short Story,  Rolando Sanchez Mejias
  • The Classics:  Melcion Mateu
  • Initiation into poetry: Marta Salinas
  • Cinema,  I saw a Barcelona movie
  • Culture, I attended a fashion show.  OK. not really high culture, I admit.
Where (in what apartment or residence) did he pen this famous novel which is read by ALL contemporary students in ALL Philippine schools?   It was at Calle Pizarro, numero 13, 2nd piso derecho.

 Calle Pizarro 15, formerly Pizarro 13, 2nd floor. (I know I took a picture of this place.  I have to dig up my files and attach it later.)

He lived here from August of 1883 to  September 1885.  The flat was convenient because of its proximity to the Facultad de Filosofia y Letras.  He was rooming with Ceferino de Leon and Julio Llorente.  However, on 30 July, 1885,  Rizal wrote his parents that Julio got married and moved out, while Ceferino left for Galicia in Northern Spain.  So Jose Rizal, for the very first time had the flat all to himself. This is where he finally and seriously sat down to write the Noli.

At certain intervals, he would invite his friends over and they would gather around Rizal for a  reading.   Once, he read his draft chapter on Sisa.  Not a single eye was dry.  Felix Pardo de Tavera, a medical student and a younger  brother of Trinidad, incredulously asked: "Is this true?"   Rizal  replied: "All I had written here actually happened."

Soon after Rizal got his medical degree he proceeded to Heidelberg Germany to train in Opthalmology with the noted eye specialist, Dr. Becker.  However, he chose to stay with a German family several miles away in the village of Wilhelmsfeld.  In the vicarage house of Pastor Karl Ullmer, he wrote the last final chapters of Noli me tangere.   

Schreisheimer Hof  is an inn near Pastor Karl Ullmer's vicarage house, Wilhelmsfeld, Heidelberg, Germany.  It was at this inn where Rizal and Pastor Ullmer met with a Catholic priest.  They spent the afternoon discussing about their respective Catholic and Protestant religions. Rizal learned a lot about regligious tolerance during their discussions.

Schreisheimer Hof,  an inn near Pastor Karl Ullmer's vicarage house,
Wilhelmsfeld, Heidelberg, Germany
The Noli me tangere  was printed in Berlin in 1887.  (See my blog on how Maximo Viola, my dad's uncle lent Rizal 300 pesetas to  have this printed.)

Rizal sent the first copy to Blumentritt.  The second was to Pastor Ullmer.  Ullmer's great grandsons, Fritz and Hans Hack donated their family copy to the Philippine Government in 1961 at Rizal's Centenary Birthday celebration.
Leoncio Lopez Rizal standing between Fritz Hack and Hans Hack of Wilhelmsfeld, Germany. 1961.
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