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Camilo José Cela

Camilo José Cela Sculpture in Guadalajara, Spain
Born May 11, 1916(1916-05-11)
Padrón, Galicia, Spain
Died January 17, 2002 (aged 85)
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Notable award(s) Nobel Prize in Literature

Don Camilo José Cela Trulock, Marquis of Iria Flavia (Spanish: Don Camilo José Cela Trulock, marqués de Iria Flavia) (May 11, 1916—January 17, 2002) was an influential Spanish writer and member of the Generation of 1950.


Camilo José Cela was born in Iria Flavia, Padrón, Galicia, Spain of Galician and English parents. Before he became a professional writer, Cela attended the University of Madrid, where he briefly pursued a law degree. He also fought in the Spanish Civil War on the side of Franco, until he was wounded by an errant grenade and discharged. After the war, Cela dedicated himself to newspaper work and took several jobs of an essentially bureaucratic nature, including a position of censor that would later bring him criticism. In 1944 he married María del Rosario Conde Picavea with whom he had a son, Camilo José Cela Conde, 2nd Marquess of Iria Flavia, in 1946.

Cela published his first novel, La Familia de Pascual Duarte (The Family of Pascual Duarte), when he was 26, in 1942. Pascual Duarte has trouble finding validity in conventional morality and commits a number of crimes, including murders, for which he feels nothing. In this sense he is similar to Meursault in Albert Camus's novel The Stranger. This novel is also of particular importance as it played a large part in shaping the direction of the post-war Spanish novel.

He published two travel books Viaje a la Alcarria (Journey to La Alcarria, 1948), and Del Miño al Bidasoa (From Minho to Bidasoa, 1952).

Cela's best known work, La Colmena (The Hive) was published in 1951, featuring more than 300 characters and a style showing the influence of both Spanish realism (best exemplified by Miguel de Cervantes and Benito Pérez Galdós) and contemporary English- and French-language authors, such as Joyce and Sartre. Cela's typical style—a sarcastic, often grotesque, form of realism—is exemplified in La Colmena. It should be also noted that, as with some of his other works in this period, La Colmena was first published in Argentina, as Franco's Roman Catholic Church-affiliated government banned it because of the perceived immorality of its content.

From the late 1960s, with the publication of San Camilo 1936, Cela's work became increasingly experimental. In 1988, for example, he wrote Cristo versus Arizona (Christ versus Arizona), which tells the story of a duel in the OK Corral in a single sentence that is more than a hundred pages long.

Statue of Camilo José Cela at Padrón.

In 1957 he was appointed a member of the Real Academia Española. Cela was also named Marquis of Iria Flavia by King Juan Carlos I. He was appointed Royal Senator in the Constituent Cortes, where he exerted some influence in the wording of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability.[1]

In his later years he was infamous for his scandalous outbursts: he boasted in an TVE interview with Mercedes Milá about his capability to absorb a litre of water via his anus, offering to demonstrate[2]. He had already scandalized Spanish society with his Diccionario secreto ("Secret Dictionary", 1969-1971), a dictionary of slang and taboo words.

He described the Spanish Cervantes Prize as "covered with shit"[3]. Subsequently, he was awarded the prize in 1995.

In 1994, he was awarded the Premio Planeta[citation needed]. Some question the objectivity of the awards, and winners on occasion have refused to accept it.[citation needed]

He died in Madrid from chronic heart disease on January 17, 2002, at age 85.

His will was contested because he favoured his widow and second younger wife Marina Castaño over his son Camilo José Cela Conde from a previous marriage[citation needed].


  1. ^ Nobel prize citation
  2. ^ Todos los títulos fueron suyos, Luis Ventoso, La Voz de Galicia, 18 January 2002.
  3. ^ La leyenda del gran provocador, Ángel Vivas, El Mundo, 18 January, 2002.

el era una gran persona pero sobre todo era novelero.

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