Camilo José Cela


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Spanish novelist and travel writer who invented the style known as ‘tremendismo’. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1989.

Cela was born in Iria Flavia, Spain, educated at the University of Madrid, and fought with Franco's army during the Spanish civil war (1936–39). His powerful first novel, The Family of Pascal Duarte (1942), was characterized by vivid descriptions of violence and strong emotions, often expressed through grotesque imagery, a style that has become known as ‘tremendismo’. Cela's fiction has usually been less concerned with character and plot than with observation and description. Later novels include The Hive (1951), a sprawling masterpiece set in the Madrid slums, and Mazurka for Two Dead (1983).

His other major genre, travel writing, is based on his walking tours in rural Spain and Latin America. Examples of these nonfiction books include Journey to the Alcarria (1948) and Jews, Moors and Christians (1956). In the 1950s Cela settled in Majorca, where he established a literary review. In 1957 he was elected a member of the Spanish Academy and in 1968 began to publish a multivolume Secret Dictionary of sexual information.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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