Bangkok Post

Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo dies, aged 86


Veteran Spanish anti-Franco writer Juan Goytisolo, one of Spain’s most celebrated writers of the postwar period, died on Sunday aged 86, his agent said.

The novelist and essayist, who won the Cervantes Prize — Spain’s version of the Nobel — in 2014, died in Marrakesh, Morocco, “surrounded by his loved ones”, said the Carmen Balcells agency in a statement.

A member of Spain’s Royal Academy, he had suffered from health problems for some months, including a fractured hip which had forced him to use a wheelchair

He was born in 1931 in Barcelona to a bourgeois family. His mother was killed when he was seven, in an air raid by the forces of right-wing General Francisco Franco during the civil war.

He went into exile in France due to his “total disagreeme­nt” with the Franco regime and the censorship it imposed.

He flirted with the communist party during the late 1950s, which brought him a four-month jail term, but he was inspired more by his opposition to the Franco dictatorsh­ip than by proletaria­n conviction.

He began writing at the age of 11, encouraged by his uncle Luis, and his first novels were published after attending law school.

In Las Afueras (1958) and Las Mismas Palabras (1962) he displayed literary traits that would appear in later works: the importance of dialogue, the absence of a main character, multiple points of view.

This complexity was again in evidence in his tetralogy Antigonia, his most celebrated work. Set in the youth culture of Barcelona in the 1950s and 1960s, it is made up of Recuento (1973), Los Verdes De Mayo Hasta El Mar (1976), La Colera De Aquiles (1979) and Teoria Del Conocimien­to (1981).

Goytisolo explores life in all its facets, from childhood to death, in a complex mixture of memories, introspect­ion and reflection­s on the work of a writer.

“I never stopped evolving a more complex style, formed from multiple perspectiv­es and simultaneo­us plots,” he said.

The recipient of several awards in Spain, he also published more experiment­al works in the 1980s and 90s such as Estela De Fuego Que Se Aleja, Estatua Con Palomas, La Paradoja Del Ave Migratoria up to his last novel Cosas Que Pasan. But few of his works have been translated and he never achieved worldwide recognitio­n, something that he never got over.

He once said that France’s Nobel literature laureate Claude Simon “wrote that the three greats novels of the 20th century were [Proust’s] Remembranc­e Of Things Past, The Alexandria Quartet (by Lawrence Durrell) and Antigonia. That is some compensati­on”.

He has railed against the decline of an era of great novels, “those that provoke energy in the reader, and up to a certain point transform their relationsh­ip with the world and themselves”, in favour of best-sellers.

He believes this is a “long process which has only just begun” and is inevitable in “a society turned toward ... television, the telephone, and the computer”.

 ??  ?? Juan Goytisolo pictured in 2015.
Juan Goytisolo pictured in 2015.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Thailand