Camilo José Cela (1916-2002)
Camilo José Cela Trulock was born on 11 May, 1916, in Iria Flavia, district of
Padron, province of la Coruña.
He studied at Madrid University, and served in Franco's forces during the Civil
War. His first novel, "La familia de Pascual Duarte" (1942, The Family of
Pascual Duarte), was banned for its seemingly gratuitous violence. The novel had
enormous influence during the decade after its publication. Cela employs
techniques drawn from the Renaissance Spanish picaresque novel to give
first-person account. His life reflects the crude reality of rural Spain in
Franco's time. The range of his work is vast and varied, but he is best known
for "La Colmena" (1951, The Hive), which recreates daily life in Madrid in the
aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. "The Hive" portrays the poverty,
degradation, and hypocrisy of post-war society. The work inaugurated a
novelistic style known as objectivismo, a kind of documentary realism. "The
Hive" was originally published in Latin America; in Spain it was banned because
it was considered subversive by the government censors.
His works are marked by overtones of existentialism, brutal realism and humor,
and experiments with narrative time. In the author's pessimistic world the lives
and violent emotions of several hundred personages are mixed together. Cela
writes with great detail, describing landscapes and picturesque individuals,
giving an aesthetic dimension to reporting.
Cela lived largely in Madrid until 1954, when he moved to Mallorca. There he was
founder and director of the journal Papeles de Son Armadans (1956-1979). During
this time he started to publish his multivolume Diccionario secreto, a
compilation of 'unprintable' but well-known words and phrases.
In "Mazurca para dos muertos" (1983, Mazurka for Two Dead Men) Cela returned
again to the war years. In the rainy Galician mountains, a local townsperson is
kidnapped and murdered; at book's end, his killing is avenged by his brother
according to the law of the mountain.
Doctor honoris causa at the universities of Syracuse (New York, USA), Birmingham
(Great Britain), John F. Kennedy (BuenosAires,Argentina), Palma de Mallorca,
Santiago de Compostela, the Interamericana University (San Juan, Puerto Rico),
and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Former professor at the University of
Palma de Mallorca.
Member of the Real Academia Española. Senator by royal appointment in the
constituent assembly (1977-1978).
Awards and honours: Premio de la Crítica, Premio National de Literatura, Gran
Cruz de la Orden de Isabel la Católica, Premio Principe de Asturias.
In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Camilo José Cela died in