José María Gironella (hee-roh-NEH-yah) was born in the province of Gerona, Catalonia; his full name was originally José María Gironella Pous. Following his primary school education he was placed in an ecclesiastical seminary, but he was not interested in a religious vocation and left when he was thirteen years old. This marked the end of his formal education. Between 1933 and 1936 Gironella worked at various occupations: He served apprenticeships in a liquor factory and in a grocery business, and later he became a clerk in a bank. When the Spanish Civil War broke out he enlisted and was at the front during most of that conflict. After the war ended in 1939 Gironella sold used books and worked in the wholesale clothing business. He married in l946, promising his wife he would give her the Nadal Prize as a wedding present. That same year his first novel, Where the Soil Was Shallow, was published and awarded the Nadal Prize. A second novel, La marea (the tide), appeared two years later.
Gironella moved to Paris in 1948, and for a year he supplemented his income by giving chess lessons and driving a truck; he was thereafter able to support himself with his writing. He remained in Paris until 1952, with trips to England and Switzerland, and then returned to Spain.
Gironella’s major contribution to literature is a comprehensive and nonpartisan trilogy dealing with the Spanish Civil War and its ramifications. The initial...
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