Camilo José Cela Analysis

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Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

The novels of Camilo José Cela (SAY-lah) constitute but a fraction of his literary production. He excelled as a short-story writer and author of travel books, having published more than half a dozen volumes in each of these genres. Esas nubes que pasan (1945; passing clouds) contains twelve tales previously published in periodicals. It was followed by El bonito crimen del carabinero y otras invenciones (1947; the patrolman’s nice crime and other inventions), El gallego y su cuadrilla (1949; the Galician and his team), Baraja de invenciones (1953; deck of inventions), El molino de viento (1956; the windmill), Gavilla de fábulas sin amor (1962; bag of loveless fables), Once cuentos de fútbol (1963; eleven soccer tales), and others.

Cela’s early travel books were superior to the later ones, the better ones including Viaje a la Alcarria (1948; Journey to Alcarria, 1964), Del Miño al Bidasoa (1952; from the Miño to the Bidasoa), Judíos, moros, y cristianos (1956; Jews, Moors, and Christians), Primer viaje andaluz (1959; first Andalusian trip), Viaje al Pirineo de Lérida (1965; trip to the Lérida Pyrenees), Páginas de geografía errabunda (1965; pages of vagabond geography), and Viaje a U.S.A. (1967; trip to the U.S.).

Cela has many volumes of essays to his credit, including Mesa revuelta (1945; messy table); La rueda de los ocios (1957; wheel of idleness); Cajón de sastre (1957; tailor’s box); La obra literaria del pintor Solana (1958; the literary work of the painter Solana), which was Cela’s entrance speech to the Royal Spanish Academy; Cuatro figuras del ’98 (1961), on four writers of the Generation of ’98; Al servicio de algo (1969; in service to something); A vueltas con España (1973; around again with Spain); Vuelta de hoja (1981; turning the page); and El juego de los tres madroños (1983; the shell game).

Cela’s miscellaneous prose works include his unfinished memoirs, La cucaña (the cocoon), of which the first volume, La rosa (the rose), published in 1959, spans his childhood. Cela also cultivated what he called apuntes carpetovetónicos (carpetovetonic sketches), a term alluding to the mountains of central Spain. These brief literary etchings or vignettes—Historias de España: Los ciegos, los tontos (1958) and Los viejos amigos (1960, 1961)—combine humor, irony, anger, pity, and a bittersweet affection, and portray beggars, the blind, village idiots, prostitutes, and a host of the poor and indigent. His short stories and novellas range from the exquisitely crafted stylistic tour de force, in which popular language or regional dialect is captured in all of its inimitable regional flavor, to the condensed, violent shocker, the prose poem, and the ironic vignette. The itinerant wanderings of the narrator of picaresque novels are updated in his travel books, as Cela adapted the form to covert sociopolitical commentary. He was also a refreshingly frank, if somewhat arbitrary and arrogant, critic.

During the 1960’s, Cela published several limited-edition works for the collectors’ market, some with illustrations by Pablo Picasso and others featuring artistic photography, most of them short onnarrative and long on the visual, including Toreo de salón (1963; living room bull-fighting), Las compañías convenientes (1963; appropriate company), Garito de hospicianos (1963; poorhouse inmates), Izas, rabizas, y colipoterras (1964; bawds, harlots, and whores), El ciudadano Iscariote Reclús (1965; citizen Iscariot Reclus), La familia del héroe (1965; the hero’s family), and a series of seven Nuevas escenas matritenses (1965-1966; new Madrid scenes). His Obra completa (complete works) first appeared in 1962 and was finished in 1983.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

With the death and exile of many writers of previous generations, Spanish literature languished during and after the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The first sign of rebirth was Camilo José Cela’s novel The Family of Pascual Duarte

(The entire section is 1,236 words.)